April 23, 2010
In President Barack Obama’s statement marking the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day in the United States he said, “As we continue to tackle our environmental challenges, it’s clear change won’t come from Washington alone. It will come from Americans across the country, who takes steps in their own homes and their own communities to make that change happen. “
Sustainable Cherry Hill’s founder and executive director, Lori Braunstein and six executive committee members were invited to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 offices in New York Friday, April 23, to be among several dozen organizations and individual advocates for our environment to accept the EPA’s highest honor, the Quality Award. Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) was nominated by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to receive this prestigious honor.
The ceremony atop the Weiss Federal Building in Lower Manhattan made each representative of SCH proud to represent the growing movement in Cherry Hill and surrounding communities aimed at raising community and region wide awareness to make our environment cleaner and more sustainable for generations to come.
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck took a moment to quote naturalist John Muir, whose words were taken to heart as we marked Earth Day: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”
The guest speaker, Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, at the age of 79, spoke of his decades-long journey to understand the earth and the need to nurture nature every day. He encouraged the gathering of environmental advocates to continue the collaboration and cooperation to protect and save our resources. He said he fears the way things have been going, nature is at severe risk. “We’re in the spring of global warming,” Chief Lyons said. “We’re not prepared for what is coming.”
Chief Lyons said politics must be set aside and we must pick up the responsibility to preserve and protect our land, water and air. “We now place in your hands, the protection of all life,” the chief stated. “That’s our mandate.”
Chief Lyons words were inspiring. Also inspiring the accomplishments honored by the EPA of the many groups and individuals – from the 10-year old Northport, New York girl who raises money from a lemonade stand to plant trees in her community to the posthumous award to a citizen who spent decades protecting and preserving the coastal wetlands of Cape May.
Sustainable Cherry Hill is on a journey. We are collaborating and working more every day to raise awareness of how each one of us can make a difference in how we leave this planet for our children and our children’s children. We will do this one energy seminar at a time; one township green plan meeting at a time; one recycling event at a time; it is our mandate to work together to reduce our impact on our global resources through engaging and enlightening our family, friends and the community at large.
The EPA Quality award received April 23 makes note of our progress to date. We hope many more people will join us in the efforts ahead.