Letter from The Publisher
W elcome to a new month, a new season and our annual celebration of Earth Day! Over the years, Earth Day has evolved to become a weeklong, even monthlong, observance to mark the anniversary of the start of the modern environmental movement that occurred on April 22, 1970.
After this past winter’s arctic blasts, spring’s arrival is all that much sweeter and welcome. The snowdrops are blooming, soon to be followed by other early spring bulbs like crocus and glory of the snow. I’m especially looking forward to the bright yellow daffodils that will be blooming later this month! And then come the tulips and late spring bulbs, but I’m jumping ahead of the season …
Our woodlands and shade gardens will soon be brilliant with spring ephemeral flowers, which appear, bloom and vanish by late in the season. This month, writer Sheryl DeVore introduces us to many of our native spring wildflowers and gives tips on some of the best places to see them in “Flowers on Parade in Local Woodlands.” Writer Avery Mack guides us in choices to make our own backyards more sustainable and supportive to native pollinators, birds and other wildlife in “Native Intelligence: Planting an Eco-Friendly Yard.”
We hear the word “sustainability” used a lot lately. It denotes the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level, as well as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. According to the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) landmark 1987 report, sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainability is a critical factor in our survival. The Earth Day Network (EarthDay.org) 2019 Earth Day campaign, named Protect Our Species, aims to raise awareness of the crucial roles that plants, animals and insects play in the ecosystem and the imminent threats faced by many of them.
This web of life is inextricably woven into the habitats that form our planet’s life support system. Each link in the chain that is lost or broken—from the smallest microbe to the largest mammal—will have a profound effect on future generations. Sustainability is the theme of this issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago, beginning with our main feature, “Power Switch: Taking a Home Off the Grid.” Writer Jim Motavalli offers an in-depth dive into sources of alternative energy, costs, technologies and special considerations—including the availability of government tax credits and the option to make a partial transition to green power without leaving the grid entirely.
Another idea we share often with you is how the food we choose contributes to our health and the overall health of the planet. Our Wise Words section features writer April Thompson’s interview with Ocean Robbins on personal and planetary health. She also explores a growing trend that’s bringing people together in “Potluck for the 21st Century: Breaking Bread, Building Community.”
As always, I encourage you to step outside each day and marvel in the seasonal transition. Find creative ways to connect with the natural world and share your knowledge and discoveries with others. Revel in the birdsong, thrill to the greenery and flowers. Walk in the woods, visit a local river or the lake or explore new things in your own backyard. Put in some native plants or participate in a local clean-up, prairie restoration or planting event. Paint, draw, write a poem or start a journal this spring. The list is as endless as your imagination.
Wishing you a joyous spring!