All Things Great and Small

By Jeanethe Falvey

So I have a question.

When was the last time you felt tree bark? Really, actually, felt it.

On my way home last night, as the subway screeched its way through the underworld, I was thinking about this and wondering if we highly evolved humans can even see the forest for the trees anymore.

Now that it’s summertime, I’m trying to soak in all the green I can find. Everywhere I go I find myself looking at the trees, taking in their shapes and sizes, or the silhouettes made by their branches and leaves against a sunset.

Not a day goes by where I don’t miss the sheer number of trees that I grew up around. Now living in an urban area, I’ve wondered how many of my fellow commuters do too.

Our lives are consumed by a constant hustle to the next thing, the next task. Is the environment a part of us each and every day? Do we WANT it to be?

One of the harshest realities I’ve seen working in communities is that not every kid has the chance to be near, or even become familiar with and curious about nature. Nothing has ever depressed me more.

How on this beautiful planet Earth, could we EVER do what is right to protect our environment, and our health, if we don’t feel a connection to it? Will we protect what we don’t know?

Few are lucky enough to see many of the world’s natural wonders in person, but pictures can bring the rest of us there. While 12.1 megapixels can make you feel like you’re standing there yourself, our environment isn’t just the faraway or protected places. It’s the roadside litter, and the raindrops glistening on a spider web too.

The first step you take out your door IS the environment. The collective state of it depends on all of our steps thereafter. Today, I’m going outside for 10 minutes not just because it’s beautiful, but because seeing others enjoy the nearby park is witnessing that connection that I so badly hope we all want. When I do, I’m submitting a picture to our Flickr group because, after all, it’s the state of my environment. What’s yours?

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead in EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, Boston, Massachusetts