An Earth Day event in the rediscovery of hope - Salish Current
April 17, 2024
An Earth Day event in the rediscovery of hope
Ted Huffman

An Earth Day event in Bellingham aims to draw communities together for conversation, collaboration, inspiration and hope, amid fears about the planet’s future. (Kevin Gill from Nashua, NH, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0)

April 17, 2024
An Earth Day event in the rediscovery of hope
Ted Huffman

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The essays, analyses and opinions presented as Community Voices express the perspectives of their authors on topics of interest and importance to the community, and are not intended to reflect perspectives on behalf of the Salish Current.

Sacred Earth event planned to bring the communities of Bellingham together

Commentary: Too often we hear stories of rising sea levels, raging forest fires, rampant flooding, record storms, dying ocean reefs, prolific plastic waste, record extinction rates, mass climate migration. 

Fears about our planet are fueling an epidemic of despair. Parents and grandparents fear for the future for their children and grandchildren. Children are exposed to stories about environmental violence without any filters. Youth and young adults become convinced that they have no future at all. 

Researcher, scholar and teacher Elin Kelsey argues this hopelessness, while understandable, is hampering human ability to address the real problems facing our communities. 

The Sacred Earth Fair Urban Edition is a small step in an ongoing journey of rediscovering hope.  

The event, sponsored by The Multifaith Network for Climate Justice and First Congregational Church of Bellingham, is a grassroots effort to bring people together for conversation, collaboration, inspiration and hope. 

Learn about backyard habitats for wildlife, join children in constructing habitats for pollinators, listen to traditional stories told by Coast Salish presenters, network with community leaders and activists and join the fun on Saturday, April 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bellingham’s First Congregational Church at 2401 Cornwall Avenue.  Interactive displays and opportunities for all ages and abilities have been planned to draw the community of Bellingham together.

Hope is not absent. But we need to learn to look for hope and we need to learn to look for hope together. We are witnesses to hope. Two-year-old kʷiisaḥiʔis, or Brave Little Hunter, is a female transient orca that has been stuck in a tidal lagoon on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island since March 23 when its pregnant mother became trapped by the low tide and died on a rocky beach. 

Despite the efforts of rescuers, the creature has demonstrated that it is healthy and not yet ready to be moved to the open ocean. While rescuers learn patience and respect, the orca inspires them to hope with its strength and resilience. This story invites our community to hope this Earth Day weekend.

The environmental crisis is a crisis of hope. Elin Kelsey presents a powerful argument that hope is not only possible in the face of the present crisis, but that it is also essential in working toward meaningful solutions to the climate crisis. 

In the face of the crisis of hopelessness, faith organizations are uniquely positioned to begin crafting an alternative narrative and restoring the balance necessary to work for meaningful change. Hope is not, however, the domain of a single denomination or expression of faith. Hope comes from many different faiths and is best expressed when faith groups work together. 

Primatologist and teacher Jane Goodall boldly proclaims, “It is not too late if we get together and take action. NOW!”

The Sacred Earth Fair Urban Edition is bringing together Whatcom Million Trees, Whatcom Transportation Authority, the League of Women Voters, Whatcom Land Trust, Community Energy Challenge, Multifaith Network for Climate Justice, Whatcom Conservation District, Audubon Society and the City of Bellingham, with presenters on urban composting and backyard pollinators to witness hope in action. 

The group’s invitation is “calling together diverse environmental voices of our community that have shared common interests and concerns for creation care and environmental activism.”

Hope comes in thousands of small individual acts. Families focus on consuming less, reusing and recycling more. Children build homes for mason bees and learn about backyard composting. Teens engage in habitat restoration and thoughtful choices about food and transportation. 

Fifty-four years after an estimated 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day, our community continues to offer opportunities for people to gather each spring to raise awareness, celebrate the amazing power of this planet to regenerate and recover and to rededicate lives to sustainable living.

The Sacred Earth Fair is an invitation to Whatcom County to experience hope. Experience hope in everyday actions. Experience hope in gathering community. Experience hope in conversations with policy makers and leaders. Experience hope in stories and hands on activities. Hope matters. It is a critical element in solving the environmental crisis.

This year, Bellingham faith leaders invite the community to gather at First Congregational Church to replenish spirts, build knowledge and inspire action. Participants are encouraged to walk or bike to the event. A bike valet will be present to keep bikes safe. Although parking will be available, those attending are also encouraged to consider traveling by WTA to the gathering. However participants arrive, everyone is welcome.

— By Ted Huffman

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