I’ve been working with Team Marine and the Heal the Bay/Surfrider Club at Santa Monica High School here in the Los Angeles area. The Surfrider Foundation sponsors a program there called Teach and Test which tests the water quality at the local beaches in Santa Monica at three locations. They then share this information in the community and use it to raise awareness to clean up the water.
We are in the middle of an active weekend. On Friday we marched down Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica to ban single use plastics in our city. Today one of our students, Megan Kilroy, was interviewed by Nicelodeon at 8:00 a.m. as Team Marine demonstrated how they collect water samples from the Santa Monica Pier to test for bacteria. They test for the bacteria that can be found in human and animal feces which if you swim in, can give you stomach and intestinal illnesses among other lovely sicknesses.
After the interview we joined the thousands of people on the west coast, east coast, and Hawaii who came out to clean our beaches, river ways, and inland neighborhoods to participate in Coastal Cleanup Day sponsored in part by Heal the Bay.
Sunday there will be a Day of Peace sponsored by an organization called Roots and Shoots that was started by Jane Goodall. We are expecting thousands of children to come to the pier for environmental education, fun and inspiration to share in a peaceful world.
I tell you all of this not to boast about these students, although they are worthy of the boasting, nor to brag about my eco-conscious city, and not even to raise awareness about the environmental issues being addressed by these events. Raising awareness is a worthy reason to spread the word about this weekend, but tonight I write with one particular question in mind. A question that may need some self reflecting, from you the reader, to answer.
Why do they/we care about these issues? Why donate our time to testing marine water quality, or march in the street to ban plastic bags in our city? If you are reading this blog you are most likely one of the many people who feel concerned and passionate about helping our planet. You’re interested in sustainability, alternative energy and perhaps ocean conservation like we are. And you most likely care because you can’t imagine not caring. This feeling of responsibility, and dare I say love, for the planet may have been with you since you were a child.
The question I have been thinking about today, as I was asking Megan questions to prepare her for her interview, was why do you personally care about Ocean Conservation (insert your environmental issue you’re passionate about here)? I had to redirect her back to explaining where her personal feelings of concern for the ocean come from. This question is not as easy to answer as it first appears, and is one I would like to ask you to think about.
My answer might be as simple as because I’ve always cared, I can’t not care, it is unthinkable to feel indifferent about any of the issues that I mentioned above. But if you share my point of view you may take your perspective for granted, and not remember that it is a special one. This awareness is hopefully growing, growing among people in your community, or in the generations coming up like Megan’s. Which is wonderful because as we know, our planet and the human race is in dire need of people’s concern that spurs them into action.
Where do these feelings come from though? Do they originate in our own hearts? Are we born with this awareness because we are a part of the enormous web that is the natural world?
I’m starting to think that these feelings of responsibility and care for our planet are seeds in the core of who we are, at the very center of our hearts, and that if we are people who feel this clearly than it might just be our responsibility to help this seed grow in others. The alternatives are not an option.