Rachel Carson still inspires

Opinion: Columns

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Peggy Mcgrath

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How thrilled Rachel Carson would be with Oak Park and River Forest's efforts to raise environmental awareness around Earth Day. This sacred, mysterious world of ours is engaged, 50 years after the publishing of Silent Spring, in multiple and complex struggles. Carson would be saddened, but so very grateful that so many have taken up her banner.

A brief rundown, in case you missed the events:

Saturday, April 21 - The fundraiser for PlanIt Green, "A Sense of Wonder," sponsored by Seven Generations Ahead, was truly a remarkable experience. Held at the Arts Center of Oak Park, close to 200 people, were mesmerized with Kaiulani Lee's embodiment of the spirit of Rachel Carson. Lee has been playing Carson for over 22 years, depicting her personal struggles and courage while writing Silent Spring. Many guests said, "It was one of the best performances I've ever seen." What a statement! I had previously seen the filmed performance, and I still pushed back tears. The interchange between actress and audience afterward was lively, informative and throught-provoking.

Saturday, April 21 - The third annual Earth Fest at the Village Public Works Department was a huge success. Marie Moran said they hosted 800 guests and 55 vendors. It keeps touching more and more people each year. The food we eat was this year's focus. One highlight had local chefs demonstrating their culinary skills and another offered activities for the kids, instructing them about becoming greener.

Friday-Sunday, April 27-29 – One Earth Film Festival 2012, sponsored by Green Community Connections was amazing. Those of us who worked on pulling it together in a few short months were enthralled with the response. Thirty documentary films, many award-winning, were screened at 17 different venues throughout Oak Park and River Forest. Topics ranged from a whole new appreciation of bees in the beautifully filmed Queen of the Sun, to the unbelievable tendency of beverage corporations in Tapped to literally "steal" municipal water. It's true! And it happens even when residents are being rationed because of drought.

The film Wasteland showed the creative efforts of a world-renowned artist to raise the honor and dignity of the lives of garbage pickers at Brazil's largest dump. The Story of the Universe gave us a different kind of creation story, set in the ever-expanding universe, from which all of life evolved.

This is but a taste of the diverse and thoughtful films shown throughout the weekend.

Yet the real highlight was the energized discussions that followed. At each venue, experts on the topic — or film directors themselves — added depth and complexity to the interchange. Many participants found it to be transformative. The energy generated hopefully will translate into action and increased caring for this one, sacred earth of ours.

Saturday, May 5 – Recycling Extravaganza, sponsored by District 90's Green4Good, was also a huge success. From scrap metal and electronics, to wine corks and stained clothing, this was the place for clearing out the whole house. It was really well organized, with assistance every step of the way as cars drove through the designated route.

If you missed this year's events, you can purchase the film of Kaiulani Lee's performance, called "A Sense of Wonder" from PBS or beyondpesticides.org. If your organization would like, you may borrow film festival documentaries from Green Community Connection's library. Contact richard.alton@gmail.com

And yes, the One Earth Film Festival, Recycling Extravaganza, and the Earth Fest will be back next year. Volunteering is always encouraged, not to mention amazingly fun!

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Reader Comments

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Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:23 AM

I stand with William the Contrarian.

William the Contrarian from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 11:11 PM

OK, fine...clean ups and locally grown food and movies and stuff are fine, but with 50 years of knowledge it's time to pull Ms Carson down off the pedestal. Her demonization of DDT continues to kill thousands in Africa every year, and the millions who needlessly died prematurely from malaria are on her. The book was the first widespread use of junk science to scare the masses. Sorry, the bloom is off her rose. The truth shall set you free.

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