In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed of perfection.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892). “Song of the Universal” (1), 1874, Leaves of Grass, 1855-1892

Amid the beeping, buzzing, babbling cacophony of our gadgets and surroundings, its easy to lose sight of the steady, relentless beauty of the Earth.  If given a second to reflect, of course most people will recognize how nice it is to watch a sunset, swim in a lake, or watch the leaves bud and blossom.  It seems to me the first challenge of tackling the daunting environmental challenges before us, is to make a habit of appreciating the magnificence of the Earth on a daily basis.

So I have an idea…They say it takes 21 days to make a habit.  Habits can be both hard to establish and break.  I’m reminded of the Mitch Hedberg joke:

People who smoke cigarettes, they say ‘Man, you don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking.’ Yes, I do — it’s as hard as it is to start flossing.

To make this Earth Day a special one, I’d like to issue a challenge.  Each day, for 21 days, I will tweet something dazzling or delightful, radiant or resplendent that I observed about our Earth.  I’ll be using the hashtag #21daysofearth each time I post.  I’d like to invite you to do the same.  Perhaps after 21 days a habit will take root and we will all more easily appreciate our world and be more active participants in the difficult environmental issues that lie ahead.

As an organic farmer, everyday we must foster a symbiotic relationship between the land and our actions.  We  think about levels of major nutrients in the soil like nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  We address the ph levels and make sure our fields are rich with organic matter.  All of our actions have an impact on the land on which we live and grow. All organic farmers in Maine have a detailed farm plan that helps guide us to the creation of healthy vegetables for you, while acting as stewards for the longterm care of the land.

The #21daysofearth challenge was born out of incredible experience I had while helping establish the Global Student Leaders Summit in Costa Rica.  Previously I worked for EF Education, a leader in international eduction and increasingly environmental conservation education.  Together, with a group of education administrators from around the country, we watched 500 students from Costa Rica, the US, and Canada tackle global issues of environmental sustainability. We heard powerful messages from students, and listened to thought leaders like Dr. Alvaro Umaña (first Minister of Energy and Environment for Costa Rica), former Vice President Al Gore, and environmental activist Severn Suzuki. Severn Suzuki began her activism as a child.  The following clip has been viewed more than 29 million times on YouTube.  It is a powerful statement that still resonates today.  It has become affectionally known as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”.

I left the summit keenly aware that even small steps, like drinking from a reusable bottle rather than bottled water, can have a significant impact in the long run, especially if we seek to influence others.  I was horrified to learn of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastic and debris the size of Texas.  Unfortunately, time has the effect of dulling outrage.  Only together as a community,  and through force habit can lasting change be achieved.

Here in Maine, we have a rich history of environmental leaders.  U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie was amongst those responsible for the enacting of the Clean Water Act.  Just before the first ever Earth Day, College of the Atlantic was founded as “the first college in the US to have, as its primary focus, the relationships between humans and the environment”.  The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is the oldest, largest, and most venerable statewide organic organization in the United States.  Let’s take a page out of their book to help preserve the Earth for generations to come.

After all, the Maine state motto is “Dirigo” and “Dirigo” means “I lead.”