Tag Archives: Community

Earth Day in the Black Community

Earth-DayWhat is Earth Day? Most didn’t know. Most didn’t care. Most, just stopped and stared as wild winds carried newspapers and other junk from one side of the street to the other.

Where does Earth Day matter? Not around here one passerby told me, when I asked. How does one not take a moment out of their lives to do something that will help us survive? I was told that if Earth Day was on a Saturday, we may get people to volunteer, to do neighborhood cleanups.” Why wait for the weekend?” I asked. “Cause people won’t have anything else to do, so why not?” was his answer.

I’ve been a tree-hugger for as far back as I can remember and I never remember not having a sense of guilt or shame when trash spun around in tiny-tornados in the hood carrying plastic, paper, dirt and other things and I did nothing. I never wanted to go around and pick up trash on the street or in the parks due to the fear of coming across hypodermic needles or dead animals. I never felt that I was responsible for keeping my neighborhood clean, I took comfort in street signs that read “Street Sweeping on Mondays” so I chalked it up to the city to clean up behind us. Boy was I wrong.

I did my part, cleaning the front of the stoop my friends and I perched ourselves on. We kept it clean for when our mothers wanted to hold the stoop down for us while we played basketball. We kept our immediate areas clean and did little to clean up the other litter that littered our street. Maybe on occasion, if rains were heavy and carried trash from up the street to the sewer that was in front of our apartment complex, we would clean it out so that it wouldn’t get clogged.

I’m sure there are others who may have had similar feelings when it came to taking care of their personal surroundings versus taking care of the environment.

How do we break away from the comfort of our self-designated areas and branch out to clean areas that we are not personally committed to? Being committed to the bigger picture is the best way to create a new habit of cleaning up, for the sake of keeping up!

One of our latest programs, Clean Parks Healthy Hearts, was created to host clean-ups in local area parks to maintain a clean and accessible environment for children to play and revitalized park space where adults and seniors can participate in health related activities, while enjoying the outdoors in their neighborhoods.

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Fitness events, artist displays and fun activities for kids and families will be held at the parks that benefit from our efforts. Clean Parks Healthy Hearts, is our way to make sure that we do our part to keep our parks clean, safe and relevant.

So, let’s get back to Earth Day. Earth Day is an annual event that is celebrated on April 22nd in events that are held all over the world, to celebrate our planet and to recapture an understanding of its vulnerability and our reckless and senseless disregard. It is a day to focus on environmental protection and the role that we play in it.

As a community based organization and a full-time member of our community, we strive to do the best that we can for the community. Whether it’s hiking in the woods, urban-hiking through the city or cleaning up local parks, I hope that for Earth Day 2015 we can hold an ‘ED15’ event in our neighborhoods to show that we really do care about where we live and show the world what we are doing to protect our communities and to protect the environment.

Will it take a lot of work, education, time and patience to make Earth Day relevant in the Black Community, who knows but, we do know that with everyone’s help, our small difference, can make a huge difference.

Earth Day, Every Day
– H4L

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Enjoying The Journey

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I think that will be the theme for this year.  “Enjoy The Journey.”  Many of us worry about what’s at the end of the destination; talking about how much fun we are going to have when we get there.  Some of us unfortunately, don’t get there.  They never arrive at a preset destination or the destinations they are working so hard in their lives to reach.  We give everything of ourselves to the end goal and sometimes forget to “stop and smell the roses” or for many of us, forget to stop and have some fun along the way.   So, enjoy the journey.

Hike4Life had a great Hike this past Saturday with a great group of people.  We hit trails in the Blue Hills that we hadn’t traveled as a group before and everyone loved it.  We started with a meet and greet while we waited for a few of our friends to arrive.  Many of the faces were familiar to us but, not everyone knew each other so it was really cool to introduce everyone and create new connections.

261796_207176732815201_1094757838_nAfter everyone had finally gathered, we did a short group stretch and headed out on our adventure.

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The scenery was beautiful; A winter scene, within an evergreen dream.  Under a partial blue sky, we strode on fresh untouched snow and stepped cautiously over rocks slicked with ice.  With each step we stepped further into the unknown, not knowing what the trail conditions were like ahead.

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This group was very energetic, hyped up would be a better word to describe the energy that was felt throughout the hills.  Folks were asking about Deer and other animals, I told them maybe we’d see something if they couldn’t hear us coming from a mile away which drew more laughter.

Up and up we climbed; calves and thighs burned as it was our first crack at the trails since the Walk Off The Turkey Hike in November and by the way my heart was beating it was evident that some of us (me) were out of trail-shape.  After a few more inclines, my body “remembered” and I was huffing it with some of the guys as we ran from the ladies whose attempts at spirituals and songs that never end, echoed across the reservation.  It was so much fun.

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As we neared the top of Chicatawbut Hill, we finessed our way through some low lying branches of Pitch Pine and Chestnut Oak and finally made our way to the second highest peak along the Skyline Trail.

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We were blessed as the Sun poured over us and awarded us with warmth and much needed Vitamin D!

The scenery at this time year is beautiful.  We didn’t have the rich dark green that covers most of our state, so we could see hundreds of neighborhoods and homes that appeared tiny to us from high atop the hill.  Large urban areas normally hidden by thickly lavish landscapes, stood out partially nestled amongst the grey-brown trees that long for the coming of Spring.

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As far as our eyes could see, this was Massachusetts.  No sirens, no noise, other than our breathing and conversation.  Fresh air filled our city-scarred lungs, as we inhaled deeply and exhaling our troubles to be carried away with the wind.

This was where we needed to be.

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We left the comfort of our daily contrivances and the safety of the city, to explore the muddy paths of the Blue Hills Reservation.  Hike4Life is fortunate to have so many good people support us and allow us to present this beautiful area, that is natural, open and free to explore.   There’s no bar, no dance floors, no restrooms and no convenience.   There aren’t any halls or clubs and at times, the element of danger can and is real and so is the thrill of adventure.

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Before the Hike everyone didn’t know each other but, by the end of the hike, everyone was the best of friends.  Hiking is great for team building and camaraderie, group encouragement and care for one another is developed as we trek and ramble through the woods.

In total 11 of us left our boot prints for over 3 miles of terrain, snow and ice.  There were a couple of slips but we made it out unharmed and unscathed.  Overall, we got a great workout, spent some time under a comfortable Winter Sun and everyone genuinely had a great time!

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Our feet may have hurt from walking, but so did our faces from all of the smiling and laughing that we did as we Hiked for our lives!

H4L