By Marie Winger
Remember back in 1969 when we saw those first images of our lovely planet hanging in the blackness of space? Remember how beautiful it was?
In 1962, Rachel Carson published the seminal environmental book “Silent Spring,” warning us of the devastating effects of DDT on bird eggs. The ’60s featured a string of environmental catastrophes, the Santa Barbara oil spill and the Cuyahoga River fires among them. And then we saw that image of our jewel of a planet. In response to all of this, Gaylord Nelson, a politician, conceived of Earth Day. He and Congressman Pete McCloskey and activist Dennis Hayes organized the first Earth Day demonstration on April 22, 1970. They chose April 22 because it was halfway between spring break and finals in hopes that they would get a lot of participation from college students.
Still observed on that date, Earth Day has grown from just college demonstrations to a global celebration of our planet and the complex environmental challenges we continue to face. 1990 saw the first global celebration with 200 million people in 141 countries. 1992 saw the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet.”
To honor Earth Day this year, the library will showcase some of our books that deal with environmental issues and celebrate the wonders of our Earth. See the special display in the library. Among these books is “Silent Spring,” named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time.
By Les Helmeczi
Homestead Village is one of three Lancaster County Senior Living Communities to be gifted the opportunity to learn about and plan sustainable landscapes on their campuses. The approach includes: facilitated visioning sessions with residents and management staff, preparation of a custom Green Masterplan by Land Studies Inc. to be made available as a guide for native landscape alternatives for each facility, a follow-up presentation in the spring of 2023 of the said custom Green Masterplan, and some continuing support for each facility which might choose to make use of the plan or portions thereof in coming years. It’s even a possibility that additional grant monies may be available to assist in funding portions of the Green Design Plan with which our community desires to move forward.
Partners in this Green Sustainable planning project include: Lancaster Clean Water Partners, Lancaster Conservancy Community Wildlife Habitat, Land Studies Inc., and Landis Homes. The entire project is funded by the Kentfields Foundation whose mission is to preserve the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding environments by increasing land and water protection and restoration.
Homestead Village’s Environmental Action Resources Committee (EAR) has been instrumental for a few years toward providing environmental resources for residents through our HV library, establishing volunteer recycling efforts in the Cottages and the Mews (so far) to collect recyclable materials no longer collected by the larger community, encouraging residents to reduce their use of single use plastics by purchasing reusable meal containers and cloth bags for use with carry-out meals, encouraging Cura to compost vegetable residue at the Church of the Apostles garden, to name just a few of our interests.
Most recently we have become aware that the use of native plants in the landscape adds to the biodiversity and stewardship of our planet. Native plants attract a variety of birds and butterflies by providing habitat and food sources as well as year-round beauty. Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer breeding birds in North America should inform us that our current landscape designs are ineffective for supporting a healthy environment for wildlife of all kinds. We hope to create landscapes that enhance local ecosystems by adding the plant communities that sustain food webs, sequester carbon, maintain diverse native bee communities and manage our watersheds at least a bit better. Native plants do all of this better than plants from other continents, and much better than our usual lawns (often known as green concrete).
This is not to say we dislike the way our various campuses look now. We would rather help make our communities at least a bit more sustainable and more eco-friendly, through native vegetation, with an added bonus of providing lower cost maintenance for our communities and curbing some of the storm water runoff to assist in protecting the Chesapeake Bay. If we do something like this at our residences we can participate in what is coming to be known as Homegrown National Park, a network of viable habitats to provide vital corridors connecting the natural areas that remain. Such an approach can empower everyone to play an important role in the future of the natural world.
As residents you’re invited to participate in helping shape a more sustainable future here at Homestead Village for our children and grandchildren as well as the larger communities around us. Consider choosing to use native plantings as you adjust your own gardens (see the helpful descriptions and photos provided by Linda Kay Pressley on Touchtown under Resident Info & Forms, scrolling down to Native Plants, Trees, Shrubs for Mid-Atlantic area, in consultation with the HV Grounds Department). You’re also invited to share in our EAR monthly gatherings at 10 am on the third Monday of every month in the Burkholder chapel of the main building. Share in building a legacy for ourselves and especially those who come after us.
The Homestead Village Environmental Action Resource Committee has spearheaded a fundraiser to purchase solar panels to support solar-power of Homestead’s landscaping equipment. Additionally, the Legacy Society will plant a Silver Maple tree on Homestead’s campus to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Society.
Happy Earth Day!