By Terry Foxx
New Mexico became a state 100 years ago, Jan. 6, 1912, after 60 years as a Territory. In those 100 years and before, the land that encompasses the Jemez Mountains and Pajarito Plateau has undergone many changes from open and lightly inhabited lands, to grazing land for thousands of livestock, to population development and urbanization. But even without these changes, the ecosystem is constantly changing in response to both natural and human impacts.
Over the past 100 years, many people have been dedicated to helping us understand our land and our influence. Aldo Leopold began his career in New Mexico. His book A Sand County Almanac is a classic in understanding nature. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring helped spur us to look at our impact on the earth. Early photographers such as Ansel Adams stimulated our desire to care for the beautiful places of our landscape.
Terry Foxx. Photo by Katy Korkos
For the past 13 years, Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) has been sponsoring an Earth Day Festival. The purpose of the Earth Day activities is to educate each of us on earth care. Our goal at PEEC is to provide a fun and educational event focusing on the environment we live in.
This year our theme for Earth Day is “The Ever-Changing Land of Enchantment.” With this theme we recognize the changing attitudes about our land and its importance in our lives over the past 100 years. We look back at the past to see where we can do things differently but also to the future to understand how we can live gently on this fragile and beautiful land.
This year PEEC’s activities span the month of April. An art display at Mesa Public Library children’s section will focus on children’s view of the land as expressed in their artwork. This is a cooperative project between LAPS elementary school teachers and PEEC. Adults will have the opportunity to share their visions of the Land of Enchantment through art hung at the Senior Center.
During the month of April, the Historical Museum will display my photographs and photographs by John Hogan showing the ever-changing land. Comparative photos will show the changes from the 1880s to the present. John and I will share our experiences as ecologists viewing change through the eye of the camera.
On Wednesday April 18, our Earth Day speaker, Ann Beyke, from the New Mexico Humanities Council, will give a presentation called “Wonder of Nature, Rachel Carson.” This Chautauqua performance tells the story of Rachel Carson’s early life in western Pennsylvania and how that upbringing influenced her decision to become a writer and attend college. The performance touches on Carson’s efforts to write Silent Spring and the struggles she faced in doing so.
The Earth Day Festival is a big event for all ages. On Saturday, April 21, from 10 a. m. to 2 p.m. the community is invited to come to PEEC on Orange Street and celebrate Earth Day. Clan Tynker, a Renaissance entertainment group, is set for an 11 a.m. performance. At 12:30 p.m., Wise Fool will help participants make puppets and at 1 p.m. perform a giant puppet show called “Too Much Noise.” The Hill Stompers will be there from noon to 1 p.m. for a fun-filled hour of music. More than 30 booths representing different organizations will display their green products and information. There will be games, a Nature Play area and many children’s activities that round out the day’s fun.
The fund-raising party for PEEC will be held on Sunday, April 22 (Earth Day). This event will be at the Hilltop House Hotel and will feature a wonderful meal prepared with foods common to the early American settlers of New Mexico. Music by the “The Craig Martin Experience” and a silent auction will round out the evening.
We appreciate all those who sponsor our activities and hope that many groups will consider coming to participate in the events.
For information, call PEEC at 662-0460 or visit www.PajaritoEEC.org
Terry Foxx is chairperson for this year’s Earth Day events: firstname.lastname@example.org