Mother Earth

Nature, Motherhood and Mother Earth Celebrating Nature during Hispanic Heritage Month

By Isabel Long

I remember with nostalgia the picnics with my family in my dear country of origin, Chile, in South America. The picnic lunch always began by making the sandwiches followed by boiling eggs which are a classic in Chilean’s picnic culture. My parents were not the outdoorsy type, but nonetheless we all enjoyed our time in nature, with the ever-present majestic Andes Mountains surrounding us. Now in the States, every time I bring my little son to the beautiful Washington & Old Dominion trail by our house memories of past picnics come to me when I see families, mostly Hispanic, picnicking next to the stream.
I think it’s not a cliché that we, Latinos, are attached to our families and that the meals we share are special events of communion among our loved ones. In this sense, picnics are an example that with the same love and passion for nature we are closer to the “social outdoors experience” than the “solitude hike” portrayed by the influential American conservationist, John Muir.
As Hispanics, many of us share an indigenous cultural heritage which values the connection to our origins in Mother Earth, la Pachamama, commonly depicted in indigenous Andean culture. This is a value that I want to pass on to my son. Mother Earth provides for us, therefore it is our responsibility to relate to her in sustainable ways. Nature gives us much more which is of importance for a healthy child, the value of simplicity, interconnectivity of environments, and overall, nature also provides us with beauty to our spirit. In a world bombarded with material “needs”, overrated individualism and overly produced “beauty,” I strongly believe that time in nature will be translated to positive emotions, fun memories and interesting knowledge that I can pass on to my dear son. It would be Pachamama’s heritage to him, passed through his mother to stay with him for years to come.

About the author: Isabel Long is native from Chile. She works for the Bureau of Land Management- Eastern States at the Department of the Interior. She is the co-founder of BLM-Eastern States Diverse Youth Outings Project in partnership with the Sierra Club, the National Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), and the Cesar Chavez Charter School in Washington D.C.

Isabel lives in Arlington with her husband Jonathan and her son, Dante. She enjoys bicycling, hiking, walking, practicing yoga, and traveling.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Little People, Big Dreams

By Tom Murray

I recently attended the pre-kindergarten graduation ceremony for my five-year old granddaughter. It was something to behold as she and a dozen or so of her friends assembled together in blue caps and gowns to receive their diplomas and the well wishes of their teachers as they move on to kindergarten. Too cute! As Moms and Dads smiled and recorded every moment of the event on their I-phones, I found myself pondering. (It is okay for grandfathers to ponder at these events. The kids think we are asleep or day dreaming and that is okay. For parents it is called inattentiveness and the little ones frown on that.) Anyway, as I looked at these little people swimming in their gowns with their mortar boards sliding down the sides of their heads, I found myself reflecting back on what we have done to make this planet a better place for these young people. Working as long as I have at EPA, I am allowed to ponder things like that.

As I watched each youngster walk over to receive a diploma, I wondered what their little minds must be thinking when they hear their parents talking about global warming, habitat loss or the global threat of disease. As they grow older and with information traveling faster than ever before, will they become so overloaded with unfiltered environmental information that they will become apathetic, seeking solace instead in video games and simple pleasures. How will they react?

I am a representative of a generation that grew up in the fifties and sixties when we were struggling with egg shell thinning, Love Canal, Times Beach and rivers catching fire due to heavy industrial pollution. We faced those problems head-on and never looked back as we continue today to wrestle with some very stubborn environmental problems. Will these children have the same drive, the same perseverance?

After the last child was announced, I glanced through the memory book that each child was given. You remember them. They have a picture of each student with a sentence describing his or her prominent personality trait. At the end of each, we find an oft asked question of young people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Among the responses were the usual suspects: teachers, firefighters, rock stars (that from my granddaughter). But there was one that caught my eye. “I want to take care of Mother Earth”, the note said. I smiled at this one and thought, “We’ll keep the porch light on for you, little one.”

About the author: Tom Murray joined EPA way back in 1971 and has never lost the passion for pollution prevention and helping manufacturers become more sustainable.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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