Sine qua non

The necessity of environmental activism


Blythe Terry

Foliage grows along a bank. Outdoor activities are a common hobby in the Peachtree City area but little is done to defend our environment.

Blythe Terry, Editor-in-Chief

“Clouds in transparent flakes. Warm, balmy life in every sunbeam. Perfect harmony in all things here.”

– John Muir, January 1869

That guy (read nuanced and unromantic description here) said this a really long time ago. So long ago, in fact, that if I were a dusty petticoat-clad farmgirl or some such back then, I’d have to be content with not knowing what “balmy” meant, since dictionaries on the farm were surely few and far between.

In these terrifying times where the internet seems to dictate our every move, any affinity for nature, for any non-digital space, is healing.”

— Editor-in-Chief Blythe Terry

Today, though, I can just Google it, figure out it means “(of the weather) pleasantly warm,” then wonder who writes the Google dictionary, then remember that Google listens to our conversations, and then feel smart for thinking about all that. Things are different now than they were in the 19th century (at least a little bit). But Muir’s general sentiment — infatuation with the natural world — is far from lost on us in 2018.

Even if it’s not in a Walden, bearded-loner kind of way, being an outdoors person is plenty on trend. It’s a function of the Instagram age: whether you’re hiking or biking or running, not only do you need the top-notch athleisure outfit, but also the picture-perfect backdrop.

On one hand, the “keeping up appearances” aspect of it all is an illusion invented to sell you things. On the other, if this trend encourages getting outside and being active, it probably isn’t a net negative. It could be marginally beneficial, even. In these terrifying times where the internet seems to dictate our every move, any affinity for nature, for any non-digital space, is healing.

So, if you know what I mean, if you’re a granola-eating, Teva-wearing, Hydro-Flask-carrying inhabitant of Earth, you have to remember how much you love the environment. Because given our government and other government’s current policies, things aren’t looking good.

And around here, it’s a sore subject. Climate change, industrial encroachment on wilderness, fracking, what have you — it’s all “political.” It’s not good dinner table talk; it’s uncomfortable; it’s morally challenging. But that’s why it matters, and why we all have to be better about the decisions we make, and why we have to talk to each other.

Blythe Terry
Voting is one of the most important ways we can change the dismal status quo of environmental policy. That being said, those unable to vote still have many different avenues by which they can make their voices heard.

There’s a weird set of values that permeates this part of the country. It’s this idea that the United States has only managed to stay afloat because of our particular brand of rampant capitalism, and that any deviation from this highly romanticized economic paradigm is somehow ungrateful, unpatriotic, or un-American. But this ideological conflict has become so convoluted. I mean, read “The Lorax” or something. It’s not terribly complicated. We should know as a society that there’s always a balance to strike between progress and preservation.

So, we have some obstacles to face if we want to keep enjoying the scenery that nature offers us. Getting to this point isn’t that hard for a lot of people, but what to do once you get here is sort of a mystery.

There’s the personal choice angle, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Being a vegan or only buying organic food or only wearing sustainable clothing is definitely a start on leading a more rewarding life, but one person can only do so much. Thinking big is the key here.

There are a myriad of options, from donations to volunteer work to letter-writing campaigns to protesting. And I know how uncomfortable it can be, but the closer in contact you get to actual legislators (you know, the people who decide how our government responds to environmental crises at the federal, state, and local levels?), the more substantive change is within your grasp. And, I hate to break it to you, but with politicians, a phone call means more than an email. Don’t be ignored.

More than that, latch onto a particular issue. Do some research, even though it can be grueling. Pay attention to what you’re reading and who’s writing it. Be attentive and be vigilant, because the environment — like just about everything else — has become highly politicized, and it’s up to us to cut through the clutter.

One last subtle suggestion for all you eighteen-and-uppers out there: vote.

Vote, vote, vote, and vote some more. (Please.)

Starr’s Mill students and the Peachtree City/Fayette County community at large is more than taken with the world around us. We like the beach, we like the lake, and we like looking cute with our friends at Line Creek. It’s time to take that passion and put it to use, protecting the world in which we live so it’ll be just as breathtaking for the generations that follow.