Honoring Mother Earth

April 22, 2014

Today, April 22, marks the 44th year of Earth Day. And while we are grateful to have a day that invites us to consider our Great Mother,we know that conditions have worsened worldwide since 1970.  Land, air, water quality throughout the world have been compromised largely by practices of industrial pollutors.  Science now informs us of the connection between industrial CO2 and methane emissions and climate destabilization, which has led to some of the most extreme weather events experienced in modern history; weather events that have harmed people and families, destroyed communities, disrupted ecosystems, bankrupted economies and displaced many. 

On November 21, 2007, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed an environmental justice directive that recognized that "state government has an obligation to advance policies that foster environmental justice, social well-being, and economic progress."  This directive has not only stalled over the past 7 years, but the conditions have actually worsened. For example, on April 1, a series of bills was signed into law that allow the use of eminent domain--by companies--for the purpose of siting and constructing pipelines to carry carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery or carbon sequestration.  This law is harmful to the environment and the people who depend on it in several ways, including damage resulting from leakage and the fact that someone can destroy the land as part of a profit-making scheme.   Other examples of human health and environmental destruction facilitated abound in and around Detroit, including the toxic soup of industries in SW Detroit, the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal expansion, construction of a new bridge feeding into SW Detroit, proposed I-94 highway expansion, 3.1 mile trolley with a way station in the North End community, Detroit incinerator, Chrysler plant and numerous other polluting industries. 

There are many people and groups challenging these initiatives and companies directly and indirectly; together and alone.  The struggles around environmental justice and climate destabilization intersect with struggles around food, land, water access, privatization, gentrification, health, education and more.  Just as there are those "fighting against," there are many "fighting for" and "creating new."  Knowing what we are living in and up against can be heavy.  And conversely, knowing that we work alongside some of the toughest, most seasoned organizers, activists, concerned citizens, visionaries and more, we are encouraged and have tremendous hope. 

In honoring Mother Earth, we take time to acknowledge the pain and trauma that comes from breathing air that is polluted, eating food that is modified, having public spaces and the commons privatized and more. We acknowledge this. We also--perhaps simultaneously--draw strength and courage to define characteristics of a society that values life, map pathways to this new society, this new world, and begin building that world now.

It is in this way that we honor our Mother.