Newly elected District 3 Councilman Erik Bottcher rarely turns down the chance to play guitar, which he just picked up a few years ago. When Westbeth Bliss Singers asked to come with her W. 30th Street office to sing along to celebrate Earth Day 2022, Erik can’t say no. The Bliss Singers offered him a brief respite from the concerns of the Council singing along to popular favorites including “We Are the World” and “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands.” Photographic artist SuZen provided Erik with atmospheric photos of the environment from his FOGSERIES.
On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was observed when millions of Americans took to the streets, parks, auditoriums, and other public places to show support for a sustainable environment and a better Earth.
April’s changing weather works together this year during this year’s Earth Day Friday and the weekend enabling earth efforts like cleaning up Washington Square and Madison Square Parks. A work brigade from Parks, NYU law students and staff, NYC AmeriCorps Services and environmental volunteers perform planting, maintenance, graffiti removal, and painting of fences in a smaller park at 6th Street
Among budding trees, daffodils and tulips, Ken Gray holds his free Friday Tai Chi class at Holley Plaza. Typical of a beautiful day overcrowded parks, social vibes and music abound. In the afternoon, near Washington Square Arch, young park-goers danced to K-pop music while filming a 15-second Tik Tok segment. Across the fountain, a blues/rock band inspires excitement and dance. In another area of the park, a percussionist demonstrates his skill with a drum.
True Earth Day observers with headdresses in treetops and tree dolls several feet tall snaking through the park share the schedule for environmental group Extinct Rebellion’s activities.
On Sunday, Interim Pastor Judson Julie Johnson Staples lamented that there was little formal Earth Day celebration. In his sermon, he showed the congregation that climate activist Farzana Faruk Jhumu called on humanity to face the challenge of climate injustice. He stated, “One cannot talk about children, development or education without combining these issues with climate change.”
Extreme weather: heat waves, droughts and floods impact plants, animals, corals and people, and, particularly those vulnerable to food and water insecurity, occur in the Southern Hemisphere. Reverend Staples referred to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “there is a ‘narrowing window for action.’ This is an issue that really affects everyone.”
Reverend Staples points out, “most troubling is UNICEF’s estimate that one billion children worldwide live in countries at very high risk of heat waves, hurricanes, air pollution, flooding, and water scarcity.”
He challenges the congregation to touch wounds like Thomas Doubting and do something about the environment, and to go from doubting, denying, procrastinating to deciding.
On an important micro level, New Yorkers are pitching this Earth Day as it comes and goes. At the macro level, how we can influence climate change, our challenge is urgent and huge.