“Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.” from an essay by D. Everett in The Columbian Orator, 1797 reminds me that no matter how small an action seems, great things can happen as a result.
I have written 16+ drafts of this post on public policy. My struggle has been to be objective, informative and educational. Every attempt to write about the public policy process came out as boring as my high school government class. I will not lobby for a particular political position in these blog posts. However, I do hope to remind and inspire YOU, a citizen, to be involved in public policy discussions. And even to provide leadership for those conversations in your community.
I am concerned that regular people avoid talking to elected officials about any issues including environmental issues because of the polarization and nastiness we see on social media and broadcast media. You have a responsibility, as a citizen, to be informed, to inform your elected officials and take action in your sphere of influence around care for the environment. They have a responsibility to listen to and take into consideration the concerns of their constituents when creating policy. Conceptually, our democracy was intended to be a cooperative relationship.
The research is clear that human actions are changing the environment in such a way that it is becoming unhealthy for humans and other life forms. We didn’t mean to destroy the ecological balance , but now that we know, let’s do something about it. It’s a little like when I taught my kids to help with household chores, clean their room and pick up after themselves. I said “We all live in this house together and we need to honor the space to keep it safe and healthy for all of us.” We set house rules together so we could focus on the common good of our housemates.
I feel the same about the earth and the environment. Public policy is our ‘house rules’ to preserve the common good. Our governments are comprised of people we have elected to make those decisions on our behalf. They cannot do it well without your input. I reminded my kids that our last name (Cooper) is the root for cooperation – one of our house rules. Let’s work together. Let’s live by it.
I’m asking citizens to be respectful and assertive in conversations about the concerns that are closest to their heart. How we treat each other is reflective of how we treat our environment.
I have been overwhelmed more than not about how to live more lightly on this planet. I know many of you have as well. Here’s my adage today: Plant a seed.
Pick one environmental topic and educate yourself – water treatment systems, watersheds, storm water management, solid waste management, solar and wind energy strategies, shared economies or local food systems.
Then go beyond your home – into your community, at state, national or even international levels to find out what’s happening around environmental policies and procedures. Ask elected officials, business and faith community leaders about air quality, zoning, habitat, health or conservation practices and policies. Or join a group of others who are also learning and acting to benefit the common good and this earth ‘house’ we live on.
I’m not going to apologize for being passionate about all things environmental. My only house rule is to be respectful and cooperative. What are you inspired to do next?