April 2019 - Celebrating Earth Day

Welcome to our annual Earth Day issue celebrating the birth of the modern environmental movement: April 22, 1970. No doubt you can think of many local people, places and events that reflect the spirit of what’s since become a rite of spring.

When I think of Earth Day, I recall how, this time last year, I was riding my beach cruiser to work as often as the weather would allow. In the process I became quite familiar with specific trees, grassy areas, vines and shrubs that I observed as I rode by, relishing their beauty as they reawakened, blossomed and grew. The show of butterflies, bees and small creatures added so to my journey through what I came to see as a living art museum.

      At the same time, I developed an irresistible urge to clean up trash along the way. Relating well to the rage of ploggers—joggers known for picking up trash as they exercise—I fantasized about having an automated trash grabber I could operate from my bike.

Those of us who share this aspiration to keep our world clean and in its natural state aren’t just concerned with reversing global warming or conserving energy. We want to keep our water and air clean, our forests green and our environment pristine out of a deep-seated passion for the beauty they offer. Instead of simply being conservationists, maybe we are also inclined to be curators of Mother Nature’s art.

This year’s Earth Day celebrations will focus on raising awareness of the crucial role of plants and animals in the ecosystem, and the threats many species currently face. Every species and its habitat is inextricably woven into the web that is our planet's life-support system. Each part of the web that is lost or broken—from the smallest microbe to the largest mammal—will have a profound effect on future generations.

Make sure to attend at least one of the local Earth Day events listed on page 19, as they showcase the advocates, businesses and environmental experts who support this larger mission. I’m curious to see if anyone has beaten me to the punch by inventing a “piker-picker-upper” for beach cruisers (name suggestions are welcome).

As you would expect, sustainability is the watchword of this issue of Natural Awakenings, beginning with the excellent feature "Power Switch: Taking a Home Off the Grid." Writer Jim Motavalli takes a deep dive into different sources of alternative energy, including costs and technologies as well as special considerations, such as tax credits for going green and ways to greener without leaving the grid entirely.

We also explore how Pensacola residents are conserving space and resources with alternative dwelling units (ADUs). Local educator and activist Christian Wagley, of Sustainable Town Concepts, explains how and why to build additional housing in your own backyard. Learn how the ADU movement is helping revitalize downtown economies in “Back to the Future,” page 20.

Springtime reminds us of regeneration, which is the subject of our page 28 article on stem cell therapy, explained by doctors Brett Baird, DC, and Kevin Schopmeyer, M.D., who now provide this minimally invasive treatment locally. Having enduring painful shoulder surgery several years ago, I know I would have opted for this alternative treatment instead if it had been available at the time. 

Every page of this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings offers enlightening and innovative ways to connect with people and the planet, whether it’s exploring creative art therapies, planting an eco-friendly landscape or taking kids on an extraordinary outdoor adventure, even on the streets of your own neighborhood.

Enjoy the show! ~ Daralyn

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