Newly elected Councilman District 3 Erik Bottcher rarely turns down a chance to play the guitar, which he took up just a couple years back. When Westbeth Bliss Singers asked to come by his W. 30th Street office for a sing-along to acknowledge Earth Day 2022, Erik couldn’t say no. The Bliss Singers offered him a brief respite from Council concerns singing together folk favorites including “We Are the World” and “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands.” Photographic artist SuZen presented Erik with an environmental atmospheric photo from her FOGSERIES.
On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was observed when millions of Americans took streets, parks, auditoriums, and other public places to demonstrate support for a sustainable environment and a better Earth.
The changeable April weather cooperated this year during this year’s Earth Day Friday and weekend allowing for earth efforts such as a cleaning up Washington Square and Madison Square Parks. Work brigades from Parks, NYU law students and staff, NYC Service AmeriCorps and neighborhood volunteers pitched in planting, maintenance, graffiti removal and painting fences in the smaller parks on 6th Ave.
Amidst budding trees, daffodils and tulips, Ken Grey conducts his free Friday Tai Chi class in Holley Plaza. Typical of a packed park beautiful day, social and musical vibes abounded. Later in the afternoon, near the Washington Square Arch, young park-goers show off dancing chops to K-pop music while being filmed in Tik Tok 15-second segments. Across the fountain, a blues/rock band inspires glee and dancing. In another area of the park a percussionist shows his finesse with one drum.
True Earth Day observers with treetop headdresses and multi-feet tall tree puppets snaked through the park handing out the environmental group Extinct Rebellion’s schedule of activities.
On Sunday, Judson’s Interim Pastor Julie Johnson Staples lamented that there were sparse formal Earth Day observances. During her sermon, she pointed out to congregants that climate activist Farzana Faruk Jhumu called upon humanity to face the challenges of climate injustice. He states, “One cannot talk of children, development or education without coupling these issues with climate change.”
The extremes of weather: heat waves, droughts, and floods impact plants, animals, corals and people and, particularly vulnerable to food and water insecurity are those in the global south. Rev. Staples referenced the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “there is a ‘narrowing window for action.’ It is an issue that affects absolutely everyone.”
Rev. Staples pointed out, “the most troubling was the UNICEF estimate that one billion children around the world live in countries at extremely high risk for heat waves, cyclones, air pollution, flooding and water scarcity.”
She challenged the congregation to touch the wounds like Doubting Thomas and to do something about the environment, and move from doubting, denying, delaying to deciding.
On an important micro-level New Yorkers pitched in this Earth Day as it came and went. It’s on the macro-level, how we can affect climate change that our challenge is immediate and great.