Guest blog post by Hannah Pingree, former Maine Speaker of the House
“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Hannah Pingree and her daughter as part of the “stroller brigade” in Washington, DC earlier this year. They were there to urge Congress to fix our nation’s broken federal chemical safety policy.
Rachel Carson was an incredible woman. Her love for the natural world, her belief that kids should be connected to the outdoors, and her scientific work to protect our health and environment constitute a legacy that grows more relevant over time. Rachel Carson sparked a movement that continues to work for good in the world. And some of her inspiration came from our beautiful state of Maine.
In 1963, nearly 50 years ago, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Battling breast cancer, and aware of the significant impact of chemicals on our environment and children, Carson’s message was significant.
Ever since I was a 25 year-old freshman legislator, I have been engaged and interested in issues surrounding toxic chemicals in our homes, products, and environment. Now, as the mom of an 18-month old daughter with another child on the way, this work and these issues seem all the more relevant and urgent. The fact that Carson began this battle so long ago—and that we are still fighting it today as policy makers and parents—feels both disappointing and galvanizing. We must continue this fight.
Carson went up against the powerful chemical industry and got the attention of the country. Today, in the Maine Legislature and in Washington, D.C., we are still trying to implement the core protections Rachel Carson knew to be so crucial. And her message was simple and still vital today: we must be sure the chemicals we use in our products, on our food, and around our children and environment are safe for our health.
Our political leaders must hear and understand this message. But our children, whose future health hangs in the balance, are an even more important audience. And while it is a serious message, we need to reach kids by appealing to that quality that Rachel Carson so admired: their sense of wonder about the world around them.
That is why I am so excited for Rachel’s Run next Saturday, September 29th! The best way to honor Rachel Carson and her incredible work is to celebrate it with our kids, and more importantly HAVE FUN outside.
On Saturday morning in Augusta we’ll be walking, running, and strolling a 5k for those who are up for it. And even better, there are loads of organized nature-themed kids’ activities, including an obstacle course, mural painting, bird-feeder building, and traditional story-telling.
Celebrate Rachel’s legacy—and continue the fight she started—by joining us in Augusta!