April 22, 2015
Today is the 45th Earth Day, and many many not be aware of Michigan’s role in this holiday. The Ann Arbor Chronicle has an excellent feature titled Turbulent Origins of Ann Arbor’s First Earth Day that looks at the national movement in the late 60s to call attention to environmental degradation:
One of the first tasks facing the national organization was to choose a date for the proposed mass teach-ins. They settled on April 22 – “Earth Day,” as it would eventually be named – largely because that date fell optimally between spring break and final exams for most American colleges. (The fact that it is also Lenin’s birthday is apparently a complete coincidence.) But the University of Michigan operated then as now on a trimester system, with April 22 falling right in the middle of finals. As a result, the U-M environmental teach-in was scheduled for mid-March 1970.
The fact that it took place more than a month prior to national Earth Day has led to the misconception that the ENACT teach-in launched Earth Day, or that U-M was host to the first Earth Day celebration. In fact there were environmental events on other campuses as early as December 1969. But that does not in any way diminish the importance of the Ann Arbor event, which was to have a huge influence on the course of what has been called the largest mass demonstration in American history – Earth Day 1970, in which an estimated 20 million people participated.
“The University of Michigan teach-in was not the first or even the second or third – a few small liberal arts colleges had environmental teach-ins in January and February 1970,” says Adam Rome, a professor of history at Penn State who is working on a book about Earth Day. ”But the Michigan event was by far the biggest, best, and most influential of the pre-Earth Day teach-ins. The media gave it tremendous coverage. It was the first sign that Earth Day would be a big deal.”
…Events ran from the early morning until well after midnight, on topics such as overpopulation – “Sock It to Motherhood: Make Love, Not Babies” – the future of the Great Lakes, the root causes of the ecological crisis, and the effect of war on the environment. More than sixty major media outlets covered the action, including all three American television networks and a film crew from Japan. It was the biggest such event that had yet been seen in Ann Arbor – and coming as it did at the tail end of the sixties, it would be one of the last.
At the kickoff rally around 14,000 people paid fifty cents to crowd into Crisler Arena and listen to speeches by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Michigan governor William Milliken, radio personality Arthur Godfrey, and ecologist Barry Commoner, and groove to the music of Hair and Gordon Lightfoot. Another 3,000 who couldn’t get in listened on loudspeakers that were hastily set up in the parking lot.
The photographer shared a nice lyric too from Carol Johnson:
The Earth is my mother / She good to me / she gives me everything that I ever need
food on the table/ the clothes I wear/ the sun and the water and the cool, fresh air
April 22, 2014
I’d like to wish everyone who wants to have a happy Earth Day a very happy Earth Day.
I love this state and I love the planet it’s on and really hope that we can do a better job taking care of it because I want my kids and grandkids to enjoy it as much or more than me.
More Earth Day on Michigan in Pictures. If you’re interested in Earth Day’s Michigan roots, check out Ann Arbor’s First Earth Day from the Ann Arbor Chronicle and this video from the first Earth Day at UM courtesy the Bentley Historical Library.
April 21, 2012
- On the topic of history, here’s a great feature about Earth Day at Albion College that includes a segment on “Trash Wednesday” introduced by none other than Walter Cronkite.
- The Michigan Green Living Festival in Rochester takes place April 22-24, 2012 and is is one of the largest green/wellness events on the planet, bringing together tens of thousands of people eager to learn about healthy living and seeking earth-friendly products, services and programs. (Facebook)
- The state of Michigan has a list of Earth Day events by region. Also here’s the winners of the Michigan K-5 Earth Day poster contest.
- The Flint Journal has 7 easy tips to make a difference for the environment including buying local, organic produce and planting native Michigan plants. Speaking of ways to make a difference, here’s some tips for saving green by going green in Northern Michigan. mLive also has an Earth Day poll.
- From Scientific American here’s news that Michigan Tech grads will be wearing caps & gowns made from recycled plastic water bottles. (it takes 27 bottles for one gown)
- There’s some Earth Day features on Absolute Michigan.
- Here’s a slideshow of Earth Day photos from the Absolute Michigan pool and also all Michigan Earth Day photos.
April 22, 2011
I thought this shot from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center was a perfect image, and it’s a great lead-in to their Earth Day 2011 slideshow, which looks at almost 40 years of Landsat images. NASA says:
Launched in 1972, the Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth’s surface. It continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our changing planet, allowing us to plan for the future of Earth’s precious resources.
April 24, 2010
The concept that protecting the only home we have is something we can afford to focus on just once a year seems crazy to me.
Get out and love this world, people – today and every day. It’s one of the best I bet.
In case you missed it, there was a writeup on Earth Day’s roots in Michigan on Thursday that you might enjoy.
April 22, 2010
Many folks may not know that Earth Day has deep roots in Michigan, at the University of Michigan to be precise. James Tobin at Michigan Today has the story of the Teach-In on the Environment that UM held in March of 1970 because Earth Day fell right in the middle of exams. Students and teachers formed a group called Environmental Action for Survival (ENACT) and booked Democratic front-runner Senator Edmund Muskie, Ralph Nader and biologist Dr. Barry Commoner.
Over four days, an estimated 50,000 people took part in ENACT’s teach-in—an astonishing success that fueled enthusiasm for Senator Nelson’s national Earth Day, which drew some 20 million participants four weeks later and transformed environmentalism into a movement of historic importance. (A number of ENACT’s leaders went on to influential careers in the field, including Doug Scott, a longtime executive at the Sierra Club who is now policy director at the Campaign for America’s Wilderness; David Allan, who became a professor and associate dean of U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment; and John Turner, who served as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the first President Bush.)
“The Michigan event was by far the biggest, best, and most influential of the pre-Earth Day teach-ins,” Adam Rome, a historian and authority on the environmental movement told the Ann Arbor Chronicle. “It was the first sign that Earth Day would be a big deal.”
Read the rest and see photos and even a documentary from The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day at Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality can point you to Earth Day events all across Michigan, from the Get Clean/ Go Green Earth Day Celebration in Twin Lakes to the Michigan Earth Day Fest in Rochester held this weekend (Apr 23-25) where they expect 100,000 people to learn about green and healthy living through earth-friendly alternatives in food, energy, transportation, clothing, wellness, career, home, garden, finances and more.
April 22, 2008
I thought that Andy’s photo is a perfect expression of how I feel about Earth Day this year. While in year’s past, it has seemed to be a day that highlights an impossible task, it now seems a day that we can begin to celebrate our journey towards a sustainable society.
Happy Earth Day, Michigan – hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy it!
Also see Absolute Michigan’s Earth Day post
April 21, 2007
Landon Michaelson writes: One of my favorite shots out the airline window. I liked the clear day, the curvature of the earth, the black sky and the cloud layers beneath. Pocket digital several years ago (still easier to use than my DSLR in-flight) and of course I always request a window seat.
Landon is an East Wenatchee, WA based photographer whose work can be found by clicking the photo above or visiting Best Kept Secret Photography.
Last night I attended the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council’s annual celebration of work on the behalf of the environment in our region. The even is timed as a lead-in to Earth Day and featured a ton of talking and pictures showcasing Michigan’s incredible natural bounty. Facts like “Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the country.”, the very funny and very compelling wombat video (highly recommended) and all the pictures showing land the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has preserved for enjoyment and habitat or is helping to remain in farming and forestry forever.
The GTRLC’s Glen Chown delivered the keynote. One of his themes was that not only has the preservation and promotion of our natural and cultural heritage has proven to be good business in northwest lower Michigan, it also likely holds part of the answer to Michigan’s need for a new economic engine. Glen also related the observations of Michigan astronaut Jerry Linenger of Michigan from much higher window seat. Linengar has logged more hours in space than almost anyone and had ample time to marvel at the beauty of Michigan’s spectacular coastline, green forests and rich farms.
I imagine that he also felt how deep and cold the black is that lies just miles away from the only planet we have.
April 2, 2010
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
Every month Absolute Michigan posts a Michigan Event Calendar, and the month of April is no exception. In addition to Tax Day (boo!), Earth Day (yay!), Opening Day (Monday!) and April Fool’s Day (yesterday!), April has a bunch of great events.
Some highlights are the National Trout Festival in Kalkaska, Vermontville’s venerable 69th Maple Syrup Festival (and the whippersnapper 51st Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival), the Blossomtime Festival in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Bellaire’s Great Lakes Art Fair the Detroit Music Awards, the Green Street Fair in Plymouth and the Michigan International Wine Expo in Novi.
April is also Michigan Wine Month and you’ll want to stay tuned to Absolute Michigan for all kinds of Michigan wine-related giveaways & features!
April 22, 2006
Robin writes: Grayling Michigan. As far as I know, the only stand of virgin white pine left in the state. I believe some are over 300 years old.
Seems like a great photo for an Earth Day in Michigan – enjoy your weekend and here’s a link to Hartwick Pines State Park.