Posts Tagged ‘earth day’

Earth Day — Deepen Your Connection

mossy trees of rainforestThere are so many ways and avenues to finding a connection with the world and celebrate EVERY day as Earth Day. The fact that the internationally recognized celebration of Earth Day is today, April 22, simply serves as a reminder.

The Pachamama Alliance is deeply committed to each of us finding and owning our profound connection to earth (the wordPachamama means Mother Earth), and their mission is:

To empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.


Up To Us

Programs and resources you can access via Pachamama are a fantastic source for earth steward inspiration. The “Up to Us” engagement pathway has in-person and online learning courses available to all of us, to awaken us to the critical earth-focused issues we face today—it’s a great way to get tapped into a high level conversation about taking a stand and making a difference, and it leaves you empowered, not devastated or deflated. There are several ways to engage, beginning with the “Awakening the Dreamer” symposium, and progressing to other opportunites—check them out here.

Pachamama Journeys

This one grabs my heart and imagination and won’t let go–I’ve not yet done a journey with Pachamama, but I absolutely will! These travel opportunities are one-of-a-kind transformative travel excursions to incredibly biodiverse regions of the Amazon and Andes—visits to indigenous communities are AT THE REQUEST of the indigenous partners who invite you to explore and learn and carry their wisdom home.

Amazon Advocacy

Pachamama engages in very specific campaigns of advocacy and awareness in tandem with their indigenous partners in Ecuador. Programs are diverse and make a real difference, like “Jungle Mamas” dedicated to empowerment and health for women and girls; “Rights of Nature” working for recognition of the importance of all species and ecosystems; “Yasuni-ITT” supports protection of Amazon regions; “Sarayaku” seeks justice for human rights violations toward the Kichwa people; and “Indigenous Resilience” empowers people throughout the region.


I have been so fortunate in my own life to be connected to a North American Native American tribe, the Nez Perce in Idaho, and one of my brothers in that community taught me a tenet that is found in so many communities—that of the Seventh Generation. When tribal decisions are debated, examined, and executed—especially those affecting the relationship to nature—elders consider their actions in the context of how they will affect the people seven generations from now. Not for their children or grandchildren, but seven generations out. If we figure that generations are 20-25 years apart, wouldn’t it be amazing if Congress and business leaders who make societal laws and decisions for the masses were thinking of their impact 140-175 years hence? It would certainly change the conversations and take responsibility for how we affect our world.

This Earth Day, are there any actions you can take or plans and commitments you can make that you would be proud to have children of 2190 thank you for and acknowledge your important decision? It’s a beautiful way to think.

Earth Day Volunteering – Sierra Club Outings

man sitting on wall enjoying view of city belowIf you’re looking for a way to honor the planet and all the things living on it for Earth Day (April 22, though, doncha kinda feel like every day is Earth Day?), the Sierra Club has a whole slew of volunteer outings and responsible travel options for you to explore.

The Sierra Club is one of the largest and most effective grassroots environmental organizations we’ve got, and the fact that they lead trips all around the globe with the intent to get people passionate about the world we all share, is our good luck. The trip leaders are incredibly dedicated volunteers who just want to share experiences and expertise with you. The mission of all the organization’s explorations is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.

They boast destinations all around the world, in several categories for all ages and experience levels.  Categories for trips include: backpacking, base camp, bicycle, canoe, international, kayak, lodge, raft, sail, scuba, service/volunteer, ski/snowshoe/dogsled, supported trekking, and training events.

Trip descriptions are thorough so you know what you’re in for, and as I am always strongly advising people really investigate the organizations and organizers of volunteer travel, I love the Sierra Club policy of making all their leaders available by message or phone so you can get all your questions answered.

I’ve got my eye on a few amazing trips coming up: Spring Service in Arches National Park, Utah; Farm Service on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Trail Repair in Denali National Park, Alaska; Light Station Service in Big Sur, California, and Western Maui, Hawaii eco-service. If I want to explore more than work (and everybody wants that sometimes–we work HARD for our vacation time!) I’m all about Hiking the Hidden Kingdom in Bhutan; Japan Ancient Buddhist Trails, Rainforests, and Volcanoes in Kyushu; and Trekking the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find more than one trip to pique your wanderlust, and do a little good while making amazing cultural connections. Bon Voyage!

Happy Earth Day/Birth Day

1231980_76813417It was on Earth Day in 2009 that I launched this blog, with a simple message:


This seems the perfect day to launch the new CHANGE BY DOING blog, a destination where you’ll find news and updates on volunteer travel, voluntourism, and service travel opportunities and ideas around the world.

Check in to dip into the well for inspiration, find out what others are doing to help, and answer the question for yourself, “I wonder if I could…?”

You can

The world is an incredible place–You should go there.

So, so, so much has happened since then. I hope for you that the place on the road where you find yourself is more satisfying than where you were five years ago. Some of it will have sucked, but hopefully there are victories and proud moments and people wonderfully affected by your presence along the way. 

Earth Day is kind of like that. It’s been marked on calendars since the 1970s, and some of what has happened to the planet has sucked, but along the way there have been some wins. Our greater global awareness gives us a clearer picture of the troubles our planet faces, but also empowers us to act with greater understanding and make a difference.

In the 1970s, Dennis Hayes, one of the primary organizers of Earth Day, said, “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” An article in LIFE magazine proclaimed: “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Others assured us we would trigger an ice age before the end of the 20th century, and that entire continents would be arid dustbowls. Well–there are certainly regions of Africa where unimaginable drought has decimated wildlife and human lifestyle…entire nations wrestle with food and water insecurity…nobody looks at the air quality in urban China with the same jokesy “ain’t it bad and oh-so-brown” humor we once saved for Burbank…but clearly we’ve begun turning the ship, albeit slowly. There is so much to do, but not by ignoring what we have done. Whether the ecology glass is half full or half empty is irrelevant–what we know is it can be filled some more.

Celebrate your progress today, on Earth Day, and find places where you have barriers to making better choices for the planet. We all have changes we can make to take a little less out of our resources…to leave a little more for the next generation.

My Nez Perce Native American friends in Idaho have a way of living and making tribal decisions that are based not on how action taken today will affect us, but how it will affect those who will be here seven generations from now. Major actions are done for those seven generations hence. If we do this, what will it do to or for our great, great, great, great, great, grandchildren? This, like every other thing they have taught me about this earth, is a nice way to look at it.


Pedal Power for Earth Day

There are hundreds of ways you can celebrate Earth Day this weekend, and jumping on a bike is a great way to set the tone. On your way to your community beach or street clean up, recycling center or rally, double your no-impact impact this weekend with pedal power. You don’t have a bicycle? No problem. Just check out the free Community Bicycle Programs near you on the website of the International Bicycle Fund. Some loan out bikes for up to six months at a time, in a program as easy as checking out a library book, and some let you grab a two-wheeler for the afternoon. There are hundreds of free community bike programs throughout the United States, and the site has an International Directory as well. 

Today is Earth Day–and There Are Freebies Too

Today is Earth Day, so, even though it also coincides with Easter, it is a great time to take on projects outside, as well as getting out to enjoy. Plant a tree, garden, change out those lightbulbs, tune up the car for better mileage, commit to supporting endangered species, donate to groups providing safe water, get stuck in, along with your family. You don’t have to do all of them, but this year’s Earth Day theme is “A Billion Acts of Green.”

Of course, a little reward training always helps. In addition to doing the right thing for the world and next generations, you can also cash in on your good work. Starbucks is giving free coffee and tea today when you use your own non-disposable cup or mug. Lowe’s is giving away a million trees tomorrow to kick start your spring planting. Kellogg is giving away free reusable grocery tote bags so the next time you go to buy Fruit Loops you won’t waste a paper or plastic bag. Bring five plastic bags into a Disney Store for a free reusable shopping bag. There are events and celebrations going on at each of the Whole Foods Markets. Bring in an empty moisturizer or skincare bottle, jar, or tube, and Origins will give you a free product today.

I promise you there is plenty going on in your neighborhood too, so as you celebrate some family time and time off work for the holiday weekend, do something extra for all the rest of us as you celebrate Earth Day.

Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement and Changing the World

It’s time to change the world…but you knew that already. The desire is there among so many, but how to begin? Young people have passion aplenty, but often feel powerless in the face of the status quo–so much to do, how can one person move it all forward?

Resignation is not specific to the young, but here is a great apathy buster…the new book (being released February 22) The Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement and Changing the World by Sharon J. Smith. This is a practical guide to environmental activism as seen through the stories of some of our most effective and passionate change agents–under the age of 23.

All the proceeds from the sales of the book go to Earth Island Institute‘s Brower Youth Awards, and the inspirational stories of previous winners of this recognition for activists are the main focus of the book. Practical information and guides about how to  plan a campaign, get media attention, attract supporters, raise funds, lobby local officials, master the web to communicate your cause, and more serve as a roadmap for burgeoning movements. There are even suggestions about how to lessen the environmental impact of your high school or college campus, how to launch a career in the environmental movement, and pithy contributions from the Earth Day Network.

This book is targeted at youth, but is a primer for all of us who are itching to make a difference and shift the world.

Earth Day

happy earth day

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a chance to take note of where we stand with the planet (worth doing every day, of course).

I’ve just returned from a conference with Condé Nast Traveler’s “World Savers” program, entitled “Doing the Right Thing Now.” It was a fantastic discussion about sustainability and corporate social responsibility with panelists from Goldman Sachs, Blue Hill and Stone Barn restaurants, and the InterContinental Barclay hotel. I found it inspiring to see different ways different sectors of the business world are taking up the gauntlet of environmental responsibility as well as what moderator Dinda Elliott (who blogs about responsible travel at: sees as the next frontier (after the travel industry has done a pretty good job leading the charge on ecology): poverty alleviation and world health. It feels quite “right” to see that huge organizations, as well as the little guys and NGOs, see it as a responsibility, as well as good for the bottom line, to be answerable for our impact. I’ll be digesting much of what I learned for quite some time.

What are YOU doing for Earth Day? Don’t just let it pass as another Thursday–find a way to mark it for yourself, your family, your community (and that includes all of us as a global community–so thank you for what you will do…for me/us).

I had the good luck this morning to sit next to a woman who works with Conservation International, an NGO I can’t wait to learn much more about. From their website:

People depend on nature for many things. A stable climate. Clean air. Fresh water. Abundant food. Cultural resources. And the incalculable additional benefits the world’s biodiversity provides. Conservation International (CI) works to ensure a healthy and productive planet for us all.

Yet economic and infrastructure development, which are so necessary for human well-being, can also have serious impacts on nature. That is why CI is working at every level – from remote villages to the offices of presidents and premiers – to help move whole societies toward a smarter development path.

Through science, policy and field work, we’re applying smart solutions to protect the resources that we all depend on. We help communities, countries and societies protect tropical forests, lush grasslands, rivers, wetlands, abundant lakes and the sea. Only through properly valuing the essential services these ecosystems provide can we create a sustainable development path that will benefit all people for generations to come.

They have some outstanding international initiatives, and it is worth getting involved. Here is a link to ways you can help CI make a difference.

To get a jump start, tonight there is a Green Auction at Christie’s that will help raise funds for CI as well as three other great institutions. A Bid to Save the Earth will support Conservation International, Oceana, Central Park Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

You can bid in person or online tonight, as well as bid on silent auction items through May 6—everything from a round of golf with Bill Clinton or a day on the set with Hugh Jackman to a Lexus hybrid or lunch with Vera Wang.

Aside from bidding…reducing, reusing, and recycling…and finding new ways to change your habits of consumption and eco-responsibility…turn off this computer and GET OUTSIDE!!!, wouldya?!