Tuesday, April 21, 2009

As The World Turns!

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, I was invited to “Wine in the Dark”, a candlelit evening hosted by friends to celebrate Earth Hour 2009. As it was my “first time” I didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard a few things, but hadn’t taken the time to "Google" it before I arrived.

The invitation said 8 o’clock. I arrived and found the property dark, but soon caught sight of twinkling candles illuminating a mossy brick path leading me to “Fallen Oak Cellars”, an ivy-clad former Guesthouse that had been transformed into a glorious “Wine Room”, the namesake of the 400 year old Oak that had fallen the year before.

The garden was fully illuminated by hanging lanterns, votives and a blazing log fire, setting the stage for this evening of education and thoughtful conversation about Earth Hour and what that meant. Guests were handed “glow in the dark” necklaces, a glass of Cabernet, and a seat by the fire. We made ourselves comfortable and as the proverbial clock struck, there was a hush. This was a world event. It made me feel part of something bigger.
For those of you in the dark, I found the following about WWF online:

“…People of all ages, nationalities, race and background have an opportunity to cast their vote for Earth. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes by the time world leaders meet in Copenhagen for the Global Climate Change Conference in December 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.
Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Coliseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness. In 2009, Earth Hour was taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people casting their vote for Earth.”

Being avid “green people”, this was the perfect opportunity for my hosts Roxie and Garen to enlighten us (so to speak) about solar energy. They went into detail about how they have gone green in their home, installing solar panels and collecting rainwater. It was all very interesting, and even more so when they told us that their total electric bill for this rather large home was $175 for the YEAR! Makes you think about giving it a try, no?

The night went on well into the late hours with more logs on the fire, more wine, and more conversation. I had shared an evening with old friends, new friends, and a very bright little boy who held me captivated with his tales of daring do. I left that night with a sense of pride at being informed and at having taken part in a “world event”. This was definitely food for thought.
So now there’s an Earth Day AND an Earth Hour???

Bash me if you will, but forgive me please. Lightning has struck. I’m enlightened. I now realize that being a good “green citizen” means more than recycling, composting, and recycling rainwater. It means more than using green products on residential projects. I’m realizing that I’ve neglected my civic responsibility to volunteer, and that’s a very powerful word.

Years ago, I signed up with Friends of the Urban Forest, a local “beautification” project (shades of Andie MacDowell and Gérard Depardieu in the film Green Card) visualizing myself planting trees and flowers, making beautiful vegetable gardens for community sharing. Sad to say it’s been almost 2 years and nada, not a single event have I been able to attend. I’ve been so busy.

So here we come full circle. Firstly feeling absolutely shamed at my ignorance of Earth Hour and now I come to learn that there’s an Earth Day! Action is required here and I’ve decided that there may be one thing I could commit to - The California State Parks Foundation, a phenomenal group who can organize well meaning people like me with structured days and project sites where you can volunteer your time with others cleaning up the environment. Here’s a little bit about them…

Earth Day 2009
Restoration & Cleanup 
Saturday, April 25, 2009 –
Sponsored by California State Parks Foundation

"In 1998, the CSPF developed its Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup program to engage Californians of all ages and demographics in environmental improvement projects in their communities. It is also an opportunity to educate people about behaviors that will help sustain our planet for future generations. Statewide, thousands of volunteers plant trees, restore trails and wildlife habitat, and clean up beaches and parklands. Millions of others learn about simple things that can be done every day to protect our precious natural resources."

Wish me luck. This time next year I hope to have some very good things to look back on.

Barbara Ashfield

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