Hubble's Eyes, Dark Skies & Earth Day Walk With the President 

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. . .every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. . ." Carl Sagan


Planet Earth is in sharp relief as Astronaut Story Musgrave performs delicate "eye surgery" on the Hubble Telescope in 1993. NASA Photo.


The Annual Earth Day Celebrations tomorrow remind me of the amazing experience I had in Badlands National Park, South Dakota in June 2012, when I spent a weekend in the company of Dr. Story Musgrave and his family at the Circle Bed and Breakfast just outside the park. Sitting across from him at breakfast at a rustic table outside and talking laconically about his childhood and his mission to fix the Hubble Telescope ranks among the highlights of my life.


As keynote speaker at the first Badlands NP Astronomical Festival, he held an audience of about 400 in rapt attention in the outdoor amphitheater. Using his laser pointer he stroked the dark sky and pointed out the stars and constellations. Then the space station magically came into view, passing directly overhead, and 400 people gasped as one in total and complete awe. Dr. Musgrave chuckled at the unexpected sighing of an old digs.


 Spending time with Dr. Musgrave and his family was the highlight of my last trip to the Badlands NP in 2012 and I'm going back in June!


In honor of Earth Day and the celebration this week of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Telescope, I can think of no greater tribute to Mother Earth than the image of Dr. Musgrave at the end of one arm of the space station, working in what he said was incredibly bulky and restrictive suiting, performing the delicate "eye surgery" that aligned Hubble's lens. The pictures that have been coming back to us ever since have revolutionized our understanding of our solar system and the universe.


This picture is my ranking of "difficultly." Anything less than this feat is a mere challenge. So it's very heartening to see the attention that the National Park Service is focusing on getting the American public engaged with our parks. The Find Your Park campaign launched earlier this month is mostly targeted to millennials, but if all the park-focused groups around the country are able to attach to it, momentum will inevitably build and flow into all sectors of our communities. Level of difficulty? Zero! Numbers falling in love with our parks? Millions!


Young leaders from Los Angeles were part of the NPCA's West Coast launch and blew CEO Clark Bunting away with their passionate stories of love and attachment to their parks. NPCA photo.


The National Parks Conservation Association launched its corollary Find Your Voice Campaign last week "to educate, engage and empower new national park advocates to ensure America's favorite places continue to thrive into their next century.." The bi-coastal launch included events in Los Angeles and here in Miami at our beautiful and historic Biscayne and Everglades National Parks.


Leaders from Mahogany Youth (with rods) share their fishing skills with other visitors at the Find Your Voice launch in Biscayne National Park. NPCA photo.


Underscoring the galloping momentum, President Obama is spending Earth Day in our beloved Everglades National Park. My heart will be walking right alongside him when he strolls along the Anhinga Trail. I know exactly the way he'll feel as his blood pressure plummets a couple of points just from seeing the awesomely serene setting: a couple of Anhinga languidly drying their wings in the pond apple trees; an alligator propelling itself with a gentle flick of his massive tail as he undulates through the slowly flowing slough. Walking beside the vast expanse of saw grass dotted with wading birds feeding right alongside alligators will calm his jangled nerves. I bet a purple gallinule will come out and pick its dainty way across the lily pads, just for him (ok, and for millions of us before him.)




 A stroll along the Anhinga Trail does wonders for mind, body an spirt. NPS photo.


The President plans to use the setting to illustrate the dramatic accelerating effects of climate change, including the vulnerability of our drinking water aquifers to salt water intrusion due to rising seas. The park will be closed to accommodate the President's visits, which I understand is the premier reason that the First Family goes only sparingly to their beloved national parks because they do not want to inconvenience other park goers.



 DEL Speaker Queen Quet will be talking about community collaboration at the big geography conference in Chicago on Earth Day, highlighting her new WEBE Gullah/Geechee: Cultural Capital & Collaboration Anthology.


This Earth Day I am so pleased to know how diverse the movement is, the most it's ever been. Members of the Diverse Environmental Leaders are bringing their expertise and perspectives to the conversation, including our Dr. Carolyn Finney who is keynoting at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wa., then zipping to Chicago Illinois where she and DEL's Queen Quet will speak at the Association for American Geographers Conference. Teresa Baker will be on the Green Guy Show tonight and Bill Vanderberg, the man who made eco-champions of young people once destined for the Crips and Bloods will be part of the City of Los Angeles' Earth Day Celebration at Griffith Park tomorrow. Before the formal ceremonies they will hike from the iconic Griffith Observatory to the top of Mt. Hollywood.


And we will be with President Obama in Everglades National Park!!! I learned this while I was writing this blog...heaven....I'm in heaven! That's what a relationship with our precious national parks will get you!


Happy Day, Mother Earth!


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