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Celebrating 50th anniversaries Earth Day and the Clean Water Act

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Celebrating 50th anniversaries Earth Day and the Clean Water Act

This dawn, nature’s set designer is testing a palette of grays

as the backdrop for the backyard rosebuds 

whisping blooms along every-which-way-limbs

reminding me of bad hair days


I will dress accordingly, as a player in this scene’s cast,

newish gray leggings topped by a very old soft mauve pullover

complimented by the feather-imprinted scarf

gifted at the call of Winter just past


Thus encased against the stiff wind urgency

I’ll walk a mile —or two- slowly 

to cherish what’s sprouting up in neighboring yards

and come home to spice bush pungency


Perhaps the promise summoning

warmth and sparkling skies of blue with soft white clouds

again will frame the front yard red maple 

in its emergent blossoming


Each day, for me, comes with a thought-pattern best described as a poem. Today I especially needed to feel within nature’s embrace. Last night I slept fitfully. The late evening email from Bob Irvin, president, and CEO of American Rivers read: “A strike against clean water. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, in the midst of a pandemic that is underscoring the importance of clean water, the Trump Administration is finalizing a rollback to the Clean Water Rule that will foul our nation’s waters for years to come".

“The “Dirty Water Rule” removes Clean Water Act protections from ephemeral streams (one in five streams nationally) and isolated wetlands (51 percent of all wetlands), opening the door to increased pollution, harmful development and destruction of drinking water sources.

“American Rivers has gone to federal court twice in the past three years to block the administration’s moves to undermine the protection of rivers and wetlands. Now we are going to do it again. Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day grew out of strong bipartisan support for safeguarding our land and water. You can carry that positive vision forward.”


In anguish, I emailed Jim Poyser, executive director of Earth Charter Indiana, and former editor of NUVO Newsweekly and of Indiana Living Green.

“What needs to be done to bring attention? Does no one care? I feel drawn & quartered trying to stomp on all the fires against humanity and our natural world raging in this time of White House Rule. April 21 has been a day of remembrance-Yom Hashoah--.what is this once-again hatred of human justice, disdain for the very elements that sustain our lives? I think of a child never knowing the touch of a fresh running stream because it is too polluted to be touched--and why? so the very rich can have yet another yacht to cruise on a polluted lake? your counsel is begged here.”


Jim wrote back: “I will add to your rant the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, 50 years of more destruction, more greed, more consumption. 

“It takes a pandemic and all its accompanying pain and heartache to give us the tiniest glimpse of, 1) what climate chaos is going to be like and, 2) what it takes to come to grips with our predicament

“At least we have a great example that proves we are now one world.

“The psychology? Confirmation bias; compartmentalization, myopia, the list is long.

You and I are lucky, we got to have long lives with a mostly stable climate, I am most broken-hearted about the young.”


I wrote back to Jim to ask permission to share his reply in a column. He replied: 

“I did not write it for publication, but re-reading it, I think it's all fine, please do. One thing I'll add is that the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” film by Capra, in 1939, had a subplot: Jimmy Stewart's character was trying to raise funding through Congress to create a camp or camps for kids to get them outdoors because they were spending too much time indoors.

“1939! We've known about these environmental challenges for SO LONG, how can it be we are still struggling to come to grips? In part it's because our culture is so geared to consumption making us "happy" ... the short term neural payoff that is integral to our animal nature.”


As an upbeat coda, here are activities to mark the 50th anniversaries at home:

April 22, follow Teardrop Pictures’ search for the once-common Northern long-eared bat in Hoosier National Forest. It’s an Indiana Forest Alliance Earth Day Premiere at 7 p.m. on IFA’s YouTube and Facebook channels: Learn how to access here: And learn more here:


Arts for Learning posted “5 different ways to celebrate and upcycle for Earth Day.” These actually are colorfully easy everyday activities. Get the how-to scoop here:  


WFYI-1-public television offers four informative programs starting at 7:30 p.m.

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