Part one of two in a series
By Raquel Garcia
“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord.”
—Anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead (Earth Day International Chair 1976)
The latest data from USAfacts.org, self-identified as a non-partisan not for profit organization, states that 2019 was the second warmest year globally on record; the warmest being 2016.
This April 22, Earth Day’s 50 year anniversary falls in the midst of a global pandemic. It is the “largest secular holiday in the world” according to its peace activist founder John McConnell (1915-2012) who was moved to recognize environmental fragility after working in a plastics manufacturing plant. The commemorative time led by the Earth Day Network is now recognized in over 193 countries all over the world.
From the homes of the following sequestered South Floridians where hugging a tree at the neighborhood park, swimming on the beach, or attending a celebratory event this week is not an option, their shared voices seem to resonate as one reflection of a solemn occasion during cautionary times.
Monica Reyes-Medaglia is a registered nurse with one semester left to complete her master’s degree in nursing education. Although her ten hour, four-day-a-week shifts at Hollywood Regional Hospital are not directly on the front lines, she works in close proximity to Covid-19 patients and is therefore isolated from her close-knit family as a precaution.
“Emotions during these times can be overpowering but nature always comforts me and helps me focus. I take a break on the balcony for the fresh air and nice ocean breeze. I love seeing a flock of birds fly by so synchronized and elegant. Watching nature creates this sense of awe at how beautiful and powerful and fragile life can be.”
From her back yard off Hurricane Harbor in Key Biscayne, Dottie Devaney-Goldman shares a birthday with Earth Day. The retired educational therapist who helped students nationwide during her career, is celebrating 80 years young this week with an appreciative yet pensive spirit.
“As I contemplate my milestone birthday my feelings are a mixed juxtaposition of gratitude and sadness. I’m thankful for my 80 years and yet sad for our planet Earth as she celebrates her 50th anniversary. On this Earth Day I pray that we may each be good stewards of the earth as we pray for a cure for the coronavirus.”
Luna Mohamed left Somalia (the African country is currently suffering from a historic locust plague) over 20 years ago to pursue a career as a performing artist. The community activist and former model has graced magazine covers and made films with Robert DeNiro but since the pandemic her heart longs to leave South Beach for a simple life in the country.
“My dream now is to have chickens and goats and a vegetable garden of my own. I feel like I’ve lost my freedom by not being a self-sustained human being. I take my time making a carrot soup and cutting the carrots and onions and seeing nature as food…the earth is our mother and father and we take it for granted and destroy it.”
A vegan now for over seven years, Javier Noriega frequently escaped the hustle and bustle of his downtown Miami Brickell neighborhood for the great outdoors. The mortgage banker, along with his best friend and rescue Labrador mix, Louis, enjoy exploring the nearly 2,500 acres of wild Pine rockland Florida at Big Cypress National Preserve.
“Earth Day is celebrated not only to appreciate the wonderful things we get from our planet but also to recognize and spread awareness about the damage we as humans have done and continue to do to it. This year is enlightening because we are also realizing not just how vulnerable the earth is, but the human race as well.”
Newlyweds Lina and John are Miami attorneys who are hanging out a lot with their dogs these days, and on their fifteenth floor bayside balcony--in between staying connected with friends and family via virtual happy hours.
“We have been spending a lot of time out on our balcony during quarantine where we are starkly reminded of the impact humans have on the planet. With less boats on Biscayne Bay, we see clear waters and manatees almost daily.”
Following years of public awareness campaigns on multiple levels, in 2017 the West Indian Manatee was moved from endangered to threatened. The Endangered Species Act is a United States Law enacted in 1973--three years after Earth Day was founded--to protect vulnerable species. There are currently 718 species listed as endangered including 167 fish, 99 birds, and 94 mammals.
South Florida Stories: reports and personal accounts from the Covid-19 new normal reality, seeks to regularly report (safely from home) exclusively for Caymanian Times about how the community is managing in the affected voice of personal experience presented as a historical documentary through local storytelling.