This morning my husband greeted me on the way to my first cup of coffee with a high five. I was still half asleep but I did mumble something about feeling as if I was in a high school locker room instead of my kitchen.
Once fully awake I asked a few more questions to find out if he was just being extra encouraging or if there was hidden meaning behind the midair hand slap. He informed me that it was National High Five Day. He had plans to celebrate this homage to high fiving all day long. I urged him to reconsider.
But then he reminded me of my recent obsession with National Pancake Day, National Hot Dog Day and National Donut Day which I took equally seriously. So I sent him off to work with a sweet kiss on the cheek and an extra enthusiastic high five.
Clearly we need some hobbies, but it did get me thinking about days outside of traditional holidays that we set aside to advocate, honor and draw attention to issues or ideas that are on our minds. There is something meaningful about setting aside a day and naming it in order to give it special importance. Sometimes we need to be intentional about our thoughts and actions in order to advance an idea.
Of course I understand that some of the more trivial days are there for pure fun or to promote a specialty food item, but other earmarked days have been the catalyst for movements that create meaningful change.
April 22, 2015 marks one such day. It is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Calendars in the late 60s and early 70s were not nearly as packed with special interest days as they are today but an early pioneer in the world of environmental protection, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D) from Wisconsin spent a number of years trying to find ways to encourage his fellow citizens to take notice of green issues like pollution and deforestation.
Senator Nelson did not set out to start a global movement, but rather wanted to provide individual communities the opportunity to focus on the environmental concerns in their own backyards. He had taken notice that local grass roots organizations were making more headway than larger national efforts.
He took out an ad in the New York Times announcing the first Earth Day and across the country over 20 million people responded. 45 years later they are still responding. Just take a look around Southwest Florida and there are weeklong rallies, activities and celebrations for all ages to mark the day. It is a global movement with a focus on local solutions.
At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we see environmental advocates who embrace the message of Earth Day 365 days of the year- no special day on the calendar is needed. We interact with donors and southwest Floridians that are asking about our region’s most precious resources and are seeking ways to learn more about our community’s land, air and water. This was Nelson’s goal. Individuals being made aware of an issue and responding to it in order to effect grassroots change that would then collectively impact a nation and the earth as a whole.
That is a day we can all get behind- maybe even throw in a high five for fun.
If you would like to learn more about environmental efforts you can support all year long in the spirit of Earth Day please reach out to me at [email protected]
I would also love to see pictures or hear stories of your 2015 Earth Day celebrations.
image from sites.psu.edu