Keeping Rachel Carson's Legacy Alive in 2008

Last year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birthday, May 27, 2007, communities, schools and organizations all over the world held commemorative events and created expanded websites dedicated to promoting Carson's legacy and her most controversial book, Silent Spring, that was a call to action for ecological awareness and responsibility.

Silent Spring is as relevant today as when it was published in 1962. Carson exposed the extensive harm caused by the reckless use of modern chemicals and eloquently explained the intimate connection between our health and the quality of our environment. To a public dazzled by chemical industry marketing and government complicity, Silent Spring detailed the assault on the essential elements that sustain life: clean air, clean water, and safe food. Chapter 14, "One in Four," explains the link between the environment and cancer.

Although Carson died of cancer on April 14, 1964, less than two years after the publication of Silent Spring, Carson still inspires citizens and policy makers to make sustainability and public health a priority, especially to reduce pollution (such as pesticides) that contribute to asthma, cancer, and other environmentally-related illnesses.

Speaking at a 1962 graduation ceremony Carson said, "Your generation must come to terms with the environment. Your generation must face realities instead of taking refuge in ignorance and evasion of truth. Yours is a grave and a sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity. You go out into a world where mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery -- not of nature, but of itself. Therein lies our hope and our destiny. In today already walks tomorrow." (Scripps College Commencement, 6/12/62).

Films, Links, Lesson Plans

This year, the play A Sense of Wonder, based on Carson's life and her writings by acclaimed actress Kaiulani Lee, has been filmed! The film's website, http://www.asenseofwonderfilm.com includes information and a trailer of the film .

Bill Moyers Journal (9/21/07) features the life and legacy of Rachel Carson and the start of the modern environmental movement. The show includes an interview with Kaiulani Lee and excerpts from the play, A Sense of Wonder.

Go online to Watch the Video: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09212007/watch.html

Read the Transcript: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09212007/transcript1.html .

Teachers can find Lesson Plans: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/educators/rachelcarson.html (activities for science, English, and civics classrooms, grades 6-12.)

Find "Rachel Carson 2008 events and "Legacy Resoucres" at the the Rachel Carson Homestead website at http://www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org. Find links to more videos, websites and resources about Rachel Carson online at the Rachel Carson Institute at http://www.chatham.edu/RCI/rclinks.html, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at http://www.fws.gov/rachelcarson/, The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson at http://www.rachelcarson.org, and What Would Rachel Say? at http://journal.rcn.net/RachelCarson2007.

-- Ellie Goldberg, M.Ed. www.healthy-kids.info

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