What did you choose to do to recognize Earth Day/Week/Month? This month was filled with inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking stories showcased in webinars and film festivals focused on the environment and environmental justice. These were stories of personal action in taking care of our planet and of advocacy for addressing environmental injustice. Whether in person on Zoom or captured on film, collectively these stories remind us of the power of people to work together to make change happen.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Here is a short list of films/videos that inspired the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights (MDEHR) this April.
- End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock
- The Sacrifice Zone
- Earth, Water, Woman
It is inspiring to hear the stories of women leaders
Women’s stories are not always front and center so it is refreshing in this small sampling that women are taking center stage in the action and leadership. All of these stories feature women of color who are leaders in their communities and are tackling issues that are critical for the health of themselves, their families, and their neighbors. “Earth, Water, Woman” shows the culmination of stewardship in reclaiming forest over decades while the advocacy in the other stories is a work in progress. Five indigenous women started the protest against the pipeline at Standing Rock, they inspired 14,000 people to join them in the fight, and their work continues.
Community, Community, Community
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake hosted an Earth Day program featuring the “Earth, Water, Woman” film and the environmental stewardship stories of 3 faith communities in Maryland. What stood out in all of these stories was the importance of building relationships and community in order for these projects to come to fruition. The work of planting was nourishing for the environment, the spirit, and the community members who participated. All of these projects required advocacy to build support and to fund them. They also required partnership across many different types of stakeholders. It is inspiring to see what a group of like minded people can do when they put their collective efforts towards a meaningful goal.
Volunteer, Donate, or Run for Office
A clear call to action is critical in advocacy. This is probably the best summary of a call to action I’ve heard from a webinar. At the Climate of Change Forum: Environmental Justice Webinar which was hosted in Virginia, panelist and author Qasim Rashid summed it so clearly when asked what actions people could take in response to environmental and climate justice. He encouraged people to volunteer their time with a non-profit, donate to a non-profit, or run for office. He stated that the enemy was apathy.
Get Educated. Take Action.
Sometimes the first step is getting educated. MDEHR can help with a deeper dive into environmental and climate justice, health disparities, and advocacy in action. You can check out our Environmental Justice Training Program here or our recorded webinars about the Environmental Human Rights Amendment here.
If you are ready to take action, the first step is simple. Read our pledge. If our values and beliefs resonate with you, join our tribe and sign the pledge here. Follow MDEHR on Twitter @mdehr4all and on Instagram @mdehr_. MDEHR is looking for individuals who are passionate about advocating for our collective right to a healthful environment and helping educate their legislators and communities all across Maryland. Sign up to volunteer here.