St. Louis Earth Day In The Works For April 22

by Casandra Hage
Executive Director, St. Louis Earth Day

In the past, I have used the March Healthy Planet issue to unveil the theme of the upcoming St. Louis Earth Day Festival and I see no reason to change things up this year, especially since it’s an exciting one. So here it goes, prepare yourself…

Heroes for the Planet: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Acts

I like this year’s theme because it has both serious and playful undertones. On one hand, it’s a call to action, a challenge to make big, often difficult decisions to support environmental stewardship and sustainable lifestyles. On the other, we can play with the resurgence of heroic icons, the rising popularity of graphic novels and the remastering of old classics with the addition of dramatic Hollywood special effects. Of course there is my childhood favorite – Captain Planet and the Planeteers (who seem to have had a formative influence on my career and life path). As you’ll remember, many superheroes, like Superman and Spiderman, were initially exposed to something otherworldly or had a mutation brought on by a science experiment gone wrong. Some, like Batman, are “normal” people who assume secret identities to right the wrongs in the world during a time of need. They transform into their Superhero Selves through fantastic technology (and unlimited funding).

Our theme brings light to the fact that each and every one of us has the power to be great and to do heroic, extraordinary acts that will impact the world we live in. We don’t need a genetic mutation or space dust to make us great. Sure, it would be useful if we could fly or turn bad guys into ice or grow back limbs, but we have real life models all around us of people who make a huge impact on the world through their choices and their actions.

Take local hero Dr. Peter Raven, the recently retired director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. During his long career, he fostered research that saved hundreds of plants from extinction, thus protecting the biodiversity of rainforests and many other fragile ecosystems. He managed to do this without assuming a secret identity, but what if he had? Dr. Raven is a solid superhero name. Wait – maybe that IS his secret identity – interesting….

It turns out there is a global network of Real Life Superheroes – people who have superhero identities and regularly perform heroic acts to make the world a better place. Here’s what one source has to say about the superhero transformation:

12 Steps to Superheroism

1) Make the conscious decision to change

your perception of the world and your place in it.

2) Chose to be a better person and to become

a force of good.

3) Explore yourself and discover the source

of your inner Superhero.

4) Once you understand yourself, you can begin

to develop your Superhero Self.

5) Recognize your innate strengths and seek

to develop potential ones.

6) Open your eyes to the environment,

without shying away from injustice and despair.

7) Understanding your strengths and environment,

recognize how you can best serve the world.

8 ) Your Superhero Self then receives a name.

9) Take action.

10) Now, exposed to the trials of Superheroism,

refine and improve your Superhero Self.

11) Continue Superhero efforts and make your

Name known.

12) Continue to Live your Truth.

I am working on developing my own superhero identity, including the requisite costume, which I will reveal in next month’s editorial, so stay tuned. I encourage you to start working on yours, too.

Plan to join us when all of the Real Life Superheros in St. Louis convene to celebrate our special day – the St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park on April 22, 2012. We’ll kick the day off with the All Species Parade, which, of course, will feature superheroes too!

You can visit our website (stlouisearthday.org) to see special activities announced as the details unfold. We’ll also be listing volunteer opportunities, where you can try out your Superhero Self and let your new identity and commitment to heroism unfold!