Earth Day 2008: An inspiration for celebration

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The Coalition for the Environment and Earth Day (CEED) has been formed to organize an Earth Day celebration for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday, April 20, 2008, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m., at the Auld Pavilion in Antelope Park. The free, no-litter Earth Day event will feature live music in the Antelope band shell, children’s activities, interactive displays, plus presentations by local environmentally concerned groups, businesses and organizations. The first Earth Day was celebrated in April 1970 and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, U.S. senator from Washington, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts. Earth Day is celebrated every April with the goal of nurturing life on our planet. By Barbara Van den Berg Our family came to Lincoln, Neb., in 1989. My husband had just received his Ph.D. from the Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was hired by the Department of Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As a housewife one of the first tasks that you have is doing laundry in a new city and a new environment. We had never owned a dryer, and I always hung the laundry out in the fresh air. It was such a pleasure to be outside in the incredibly clear air of Lincoln. For all these years we have lived in Lincoln, the sparkle of the sky has made me happy. Early on, I looked for information about the city and found James L. McKee’s book, “Lincoln: The Prairie Capital.” I was so impressed with the illustration on the front cover that I wrote to Patricia K. Phillips, director of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Art Gallery, and asked her if I could make a photocopy of the 1981 print by John Blake Bergers, “Summer, Beautiful Summer.” I just knew I wanted to keep a copy of this print in my journal that I have written since our sons were born. John Blake Berger captures the sparkle of the feeling you get when you draw in a deep breath of Lincoln’s air. I can easily imagine myself in his print hanging out the laundry. I even have a red wagon, a wicker laundry basket and a galvanized tub. The lady in the print is hanging up long underwear. I have always loved to wear long underwear, and these days we have turned our thermostat down to 62 degrees to save on our heating bills and conserve energy. I have kept the print all these years thinking that some day it would inspire me to do something with it. Well, here it is 18-and-a-half years later and I, along with many wonderful people that make up the Coalition for the Environment and Earth Day (CEED), are in the middle of organizing Earth Day 2008. I am being inspired again in a different way and am having a lot of fun getting to know some great people who are also concerned for our environment. We all thought that 2008 is an important year for highlighting the need for our community to educate itself about our environment. Our natural world and the people with whom we share it are an immense source of happiness. We need to understand how we all interact to promote or sometimes destroy that happiness. Earth Day 2008 does exactly that. Many groups will be exhibitors to educate and promote the idea of caring for our planet and the people, animals and plants that share this wonderful place.

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