Honoring Tu B’Shvat and Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Earth Day Network

 By Helen Rose

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22, 2020), we are increasingly aware of the urgency of the climate crisis — and of the interconnectedness related to its solutions. Our choices affect the health and very existence of our planet, from policies that encourage using alternatives to fossil fuels, investments in green infrastructure, and a green economy, to protecting our water, air, and the diversity of plant and animal species among us.

It seems fitting when talking about the interconnectedness of solutions that the Jewish celebration of Tu B’Shvat (“New Year of the Trees”) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day occur this weekend. Every midwinter, the Jewish faith reminds us of our connection with the natural world by honoring the sacredness of trees. Many Jewish communities engage in tree plantings, and the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, created a Seder resource, “Trees, Earth, & Justice: Tu B’Shvat Seder as if all 3 Really Matter” for communities to practice collective action.

Camille Vincent, a Student Conservation Association Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia, eloquently captures one of Dr. King’s many legacies — his understanding of our interconnectedness, in her blog post, “Reflections from the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.” She writes:

“…interconnectedness is also one of the most important principles of conservation: everything you do impacts others, and even small actions have big consequences. Dr. King recognized that social justice could not be achieved without environmental justice – including healthier living environments for underprivileged communities, and universal access to clean air, water, and soil.

As MLK said in his 1967 Christmas sermon:

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? … This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

As Earth Day Network announces our theme for Earth Day 2019 (April 22) — Protect Our Species — we invite you to find inspiration from these prophetic voices, explore our resources, and learn about reforestation efforts through our Canopy Project. Since 2010, Earth Day Network has planted tens of millions of trees, working worldwide to strengthen communities through tree-planting. Using agroforestry and tree care training, we empower organizations and citizens to conserve, repair, and restore tree cover to their lands. Earth Day Network targets areas of the globe most in need of reforestation, including some of the world’s poorest communities; and land degraded by logging, fires, drought, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Our projects also focus on restoring forests in environmentally critical areas such the Amazon rainforest and the Boreal Forest.

We hope you will take time this holiday weekend to connect with others and the natural world in your community, and join us in reaching our goal for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person on earth.