Earth Day 2021 was celebrated across the world this past Thursday, bringing people from all backgrounds together in an effort to further humanity's efforts of caring and advocating for our home. After doing research on the origins of Earth Day and other days like it last year, I learned that every Earth Day has a theme. These can be all sorts of things ranging from "Green Cities" rallying behind greenifying urban areas to "Protect Our Species" raising awareness for the rising level of extinctions that are happening around the globe. These themes help convey a unifying message spanning our actions around caring for the planet and can help people get behind a cause.
This unifying nature of the theme is a particularly human thing. Since the founding of Earth Day, it's been pretty clear that the goal of the day is to raise awareness on environmental issues and encourage others to care about our home. Yet every year we have a new theme focusing on some aspect of this broad goal. There is something inherently attractive to people being able to rally behind specific causes, which is why this kind of messaging is potent for us humans. Finding the right words to encourage participation in something is uniquely human.
Given the Earth Day theme is a way to rally people behind environmental causes, I want to take a look at them to see if they succeed in conveying their underlying goal. With that on the table, this year's theme is "Restore Our Earth."
Let's dive in!
We had a particularly cold blast in February this year which made it too cold to get outdoors to volunteer at the arboretum. In its place, we had a Zoom session with volunteers who found the time to talk with each other. One of our stewards (essentially a leader for us volunteers) ended up sharing some research that he had been doing lately digging up old survey records from over a century past around the arboretum grounds.
It was pretty neat seeing some of the odd measurements that were used by the surveyors. And, yes, I did say odd and not old. While they are kind of both, I feel that odd best describes them. The meticulous nature I pictured of these groups of people working together to lay measuring chains across this country before western expansion of the United States happened was an odd one indeed. It made me want to learn more about these measurements, why they were being made, and how that influenced the shape of the country today. After all, the United States is a surprisingly consistent grid system east to west and this measuring seemed like it could be why.
I ended up doing a little research of my own and wanted to share a bit about what I'd found, so let's dive in!
Prismatic Planet wants to get excited for the planet, raise awareness of its inhabitants, and get smarter about Earth.