By Maurice Carter, Sustainable Newton President
"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
As I struggle to express my emotions in these socially-distanced, mostly virtual times, Joni Mitchell's lyrics jump to mind. Though now it's less about paving paradise than putting it under glass. Or, perhaps, it's we who are under glass.
Has anyone else watched a television show or a movie recently and felt alarmed by scenes of people standing close together -- perhaps even <gasp!> shaking hands or putting a hand on a shoulder? Now, it's The Police I hear singing "Don't stand. Don't stand. Don't stand so close to me." It's the same way when I look back at photos of past Sustainable Newton events.
What a difference a year makes. Or, in this case, a few months. Life as we knew it changed around mid March. Now, in the Dog Days of Summer, we miss our families, we miss our friends, and I miss my fellow Sustainable Newton board members and our supporters. Next week, we'll hold our fifth virtual board meeting since the coronavirus pandemic started. And later this month, we'll participate remotely in the 2020 Great Georgia Pollinator Census. Last year, the census was one of our most enjoyable experiences, as we gathered for four in-person events to count bees, butterflies, and other insects together. We even have the photos to prove it. Nostalgia isn't supposed to be the dominant emotion associated with reflecting on last year.
We've been treading water individually, as an organization, and as a society. But, we can't hold still forever. Almost daily, news from the front lines of the climate crisis reminds us what's at stake, and the situation with our warming planet grows more urgent with each passing day. The shocking temperature readings from The Arctic this summer are just the latest reminder.
It's easy to feel hopeless and helpless when rallying together physically is off the table. It's harder to sense strength in numbers when we feel so alone. But, we are not without hope, and we have much we can do to help. We are not alone. At Sustainable Newton, we believe it's time to embrace this temporary virtual circumstance. Change is never easy, but we can still make this moment matter.
In coming weeks and months, you'll see us hosting virtual events that inform, inspire, and unite a community committed to climate action. We are people determined to achieve global change through relentless local action. In fact, we've already started.
Yesterday, we hosted a webinar, "All About the Great Georgia Pollinator Census," featuring two experts from the University of Georgia Extension Service. Community and School Garden Coordinator Becky Griffin and Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent and the Extension Coordinator for Newton County Ashley Best helped us prepare for the pollinator census coming up on August 21-22. Watch, and I promise you will learn something.
And last month, we hosted a virtual town hall with Mayor David Eady and council members Laura McCanless and Jim Windham from the City of Oxford. It was a wide-ranging, enlightening discussion about their vision for their city and plans in the works.
We have more exciting virtual events scheduled for coming months, including:
Follow our calendar closely for more details and announcements of other events.
We can't wait to all be together again. But, until then, we can't afford to waste another day. We hope you will join us for every one of these events. And, spread the word!