Coalition Report

By Heather Navarro,
Executive Director
Coalition for the Environment

Our Planet Needs All Of Us Working Together in This Next Year

The world seems to be full of surprises. In the face of unexpected news we can either let it soak in slowly and take a wait-and-see approach, or we can take advantage of the cracks that radical change leaves after shattering expectations and the status quo. Moving forward in the new year can feel difficult when you don’t know which way is up. I am looking for the constants while challenging myself to listen more in new and uncomfortable conversations.

As an environmentalist, my constant is nature, wherever she is, and a deep rooted belief that all human beings represent a valuable strand in the web of life. It’s my experience that much of the environmental movement has sprung from a love of nature and being outdoors. And while beautiful and inspirational, there is much more to environmentalism than protecting the trees, rivers, and wildlife. These are the foundations on which our species relies but many people do not come to cherish the environment through them directly.

Over 1.3 million people fish in Missouri, some for recreation and others to eat. I would venture to guess that most of those 1.3 million do not consider themselves environmentalists. Almost twenty percent of the children in St. Louis City suffer from asthma. The quality of the air impacts their ability to run, play, and grow healthy bodies. My guess is that most of the doctors and nurses that treat them do not consider themselves environmentalists. There are conversations to be had here, and not the conversation where one side tries to convince the other to care for the enviornment.

I know anglers care about the quality of their catch. And I know parents and health care professionals want to prevent asthma attacks. I am not part of those groups but I know we share an important connection through the air and water we share.

If life is a web and a healthy planet is at the center, we are each tethered to it by our own individual strands. No two strands originate in the same place or follow the same path.

If I can do anything for the environmental movement in 2017 it will be to indulge my curiosity about all the other strands. I will spend less time pointing to the value of my own experience and more time understanding how an angler in Forest Park baits a hook or a nurse administers an inhaler on a playground. Our planet needs all of us working together in this next year.

You can learn more and join the environmental movement in Missouri by visiting www.moenvrionment.org.