Parting Words—for Now!
By Kate Adler, Director of Library Services
This is our last issue of the semester of the Library Connections in Remote Times Newsletter. We’ll be back in the summer, but on a bi-weekly basis. We decided to put together this newsletter last month as we in the library, and all of us at MCNY, all of us in New York and around the world were scrambling. Our lives suddenly upended. We wanted to reach out, to connect with you, to provide information that might be useful for completing your school work or just getting through the day. We’ve shared recipes and book suggestions. Everyone on our staff contributed, but I want to take a moment to thank Natalia Sucre, in particular, who has been our inimitable Editor-and-Chief on this project.
This has been an impossible time, in so many ways. It has been and will continue to be profound and devastating. We have an opportunity, in each of our lives and communities —including our global human community— to pause, to realign and reconfigure. To think about how we care for one another. This is something we’ve discussed in this newsletter before, but it is at the heart of this time and at the heart of what we want to do in the library. We want to think about how we can better partner with each and every one of you. We in the library and all of us in the Learning Commons want to be a hub on campus —a space for academic support, mutual aid, collaboration, and intellectual and creative exploration.
Earth Day Turns 50 in the Middle of Covid-19
By Natalia Sucre, Digital & Instruction Services Librarian
Earth Day was organized in 1970 as a political tool, and it succeeded spectacularly in helping to bring about structural change: the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, what does Earth Day mean today?
On March 1, 2020, in the time before “in the time of COVID-19” was a phrase, I planted egg cartons of tomatoes, sweet basil, eggplants, peppers, and celery together with fellow community gardeners. The plan was to tend to the new plantings at home and transplant them in communal growing beds in the hotter months. And that is still the plan—under entirely different circumstances. Planting is now a tactical exercise fraught with social distancing, self-isolation, fear, anxiety. Yet, the seedlings are growing; my three strongest tomato starts are practically operatic in their green buoyancy every day, every night, hankering to get out.
Across New York City, community gardens have had to close their doors to the public; but the work of cultivating green spaces for food and for beauty and of diverting food waste from landfill continues behind the locked gates. Just so, as we scramble to reinvent our social and economic worlds, nature thrives anew. Carbon emissions have fallen drastically in major cities around the world, including ours. While the dip is remarkable, scientists can’t yet say if it will be enough to have a significant effect on climate change.
The pandemic forces us to see the political will required to reverse climate change in a new light. Many have commented that coronavirus has achieved the global halt to business as usual that climate justice activists have so often been dismissed for demanding. So, it is possible to act collectively on a global scale, to sacrifice profits for the common good. Yet, at the same time, the pandemic is serving to justify reverses in environmental protection policies. In New York City, for example, zero waste programs are being slashed and green jobs lost.
Today, COVID-19 exposes the false narrative that pits economic health against public and environmental health. And Earth Day is a political tool to address that.
Another important political tool: The Census. Fill it out here to make sure you, your family, your community count when it comes to distributing resources.