Earth Day at 50

Untitled by Brooke Pennington

Untitled by Brooke Pennington

Happy 50th Earth Day everyone! It’s without a doubt the weirdest one on record, but I thought you might be interested in the Michigan roots of Earth Day, at the University of Michigan to be precise. James Tobin of Michigan Today shares 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.

Michigan’s Teach-In on the Environment was not the first Earth Day. It was the huge and spectacularly successful prototype of the first Earth Day, which happened five weeks later—“the most famous little-known event,” one historian has written, “in modern American history.”

…The crowd in Crisler Arena overflowed into the parking lots. Workshops and rallies were swarmed by Michigan students, schoolkids, retirees, and PTA parents. When it was over, the New York Times said Michigan’s Teach-In on the Environment had been “by any reckoning…one of the most extraordinary ‘happenings’ ever to hit the great American heartland: Four solid days of soul-searching, by thousands of people, young and old, about ecological exigencies confronting the human race.”

Measured against the extreme rhetoric and violent protests that set the tone of the era, it was an earnest, even quiet, event. A few speakers were heckled and a few showy demonstrations drew heavy media attention—the “trial and execution” of a 1959 Ford on the Diag; the dumping of 10,000 non-returnable pop cans at a Coca-Cola bottling plant (afterward students picked up the cans and threw them away, an irony not lost on reporters); the smearing of tar and feathers on a building where an oil company was interviewing job prospects.

Read the rest right here. & dig into 2020 online events at

Check out Brooke’s Spring photo album on Flickr for more!

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Dance of Light, March of Science

Dance of Light, photo by Eric Hackney

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie

The NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has forecast a G2 level storm for tonight, which may very well produce Northern Lights! The SWPC is an invaluable scientific resource that is wholly produced by our tax dollars. In addition to letting us know when northern lights are possible, the SWPC helps to maintain our modern communication grid when the Sun gets a little extra exuberant.

It’s my heartfelt belief that one of the duties of our government is to work to make our country the leader in scientific advancement. As threats in public health, the environment, and a host of other realms increase, we need to be investing much more in science, not less.

To any who are participating in any of the 15 local Science Marches in Michigan today, the March for Science in Washington DC, or anywhere else, I salute you.

View Eric’s photo bigger and see more in his Personal Favorites slideshow.

PS: Happy Earth Day everyone.

Michigan and Earth Day

Flags of our Grandparents

Flags of our grandparents, photo by PhotoLab507

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.

Read on for lots more and you can also view a video from the first Earth Day at the University of Michigan Bentley Library.

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

View the photo bigger and see more in their slideshow.

Earth Day Daffodils

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, photo by Linda

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.

View Linda’s photo background bigalicious and see more from Linda’s backyard.

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.

Earth Day, are you doing it?

Come On Everybody Is Doing It

Come On Everybody Is Doing It, photo by B0nes

Sunday (April 22) is the 42nd Earth Day. You can read about Earth Day’s Michigan roots and much more on Michigan in Pictures. Here’s a few more links:

Erik took this on Earth Day in 2010. Check it out bigger and in his Spring slideshow.

Earth Day, high above our piece of the Earth

Great Lakes, No Clouds

Great Lakes, No Clouds, photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.

Today is Earth Day (and also Good Friday). You can read all about Michigan’s role in Earth Day on Michigan in Pictures and check the list of Earth Day events in Michigan from

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.

Check this out big as Michigan an in their Explored! slideshow.

earth day should be every day, you know

earth day should be every day, you know { 112 / 365 }
earth day should be every day, you know { 112 / 365 }, photo by caterpillars

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.

This photo is part of Laura’s 2010 ft. 365 project set. See it bigger in the slideshow and check out more of her work at Ell Dy Photography.

In case you missed it, there was a writeup on Earth Day’s roots in Michigan on Thursday that you might enjoy.

Earth Day at 40, Earth Day in Michigan

Untitled, photo by Brooke Pennington.

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.

Brooke took this photo on Earth Day last year. Check it out bigger in his Spring slideshow and view more of his work on Michigan in Pictures.

There’s a whole lot more in the Earth Day slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool!

Earth Day from high above Michigan

36,000 feet over Michigan

36,000 feet over Michigan, photo by bksecretphoto.

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.

Have a very happy Earth Day, Michigan. I hope you get a chance to hike a Michigan trail, walk a Michigan beach and otherwise enjoy this magical place.