Two Faces Behind Earth Day

Happy almost Earth Day, folks!

In honor of this special day, I’ll be taking a look back at two special people that made this day so special. Read on for more earth-y info of these two people who contributed to this worldwide holiday!

Meet John McConnell and Gaylord Nelson

john

peace activist John McConnell

One of the first people thought to have introduced a holiday dedicated to our planet was John McConnell, a peace activist from Iowa. McConnell believed in protecting our planet and promoting peaceful relationships among people. He proposed the idea for a peace and ecological awareness holiday at the UNESCO Conference on the Environment in San Francisco in 1969. The following year, the mayor of San Francisco celebrated the first Earth Day on March 21st, 1970.

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Senator Nelson

Yet these same values were deemed important in the political arena. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin valued environmental protection and regulation. Thinking of a way to pressure fellow politicians into thinking about environmental legislation, Nelson proposed an idea for a day where all of our planet’s pollution, ecosystems, and practices would be discussed and talked about. Aimed as a teaching device, Nelson explained  “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

Earth Day helped change American opinion in a time where large fossil fuel burning cars were a sign of status and families littered in the park (without even recycling…. gasp!). Earth Day is seen as just one of the many churnings of environmental activism, much like how Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring became a staple within the environmental community. Today is an important day for the people who paved the way for environmental activism, and those who continue to fight the battles today.

Enjoy some time outside today!

me

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

-kw

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