A central goal of the educational outreach program at Foundation Earth is to promote “earth consciousness” in the citizens of all nations. A critical aspect of this work is to instill in the minds of the young an identification with and desire to protect the planet.An effective and achievable tool to accomplish this a major campaign to have a “Pledge of Allegiance to the Earth” be adopted in tens of thousands of elementary schools, and recited daily by many millions of young students at the beginning of each school day. The campaign will initially be focused on the United States but eventually will expand to international outreach.
Clearly the flow of the earth’s great rivers, the migrations of the birds, the winds, rains and weather patterns, flow of tides, the activities of plants and insects do not know or respect our political boundaries between states or nations; nor does the air pollution from our factories, the nuclear fallout from plant accidents, or the impact of Climate Change. Yet our educational systems and our media enforce our more parochial allegiances to state, nation or religious sect and often ignore the larger realities that so profoundly affect us. The prevalent clashes between these narrow allegiances so prevalent around the world in national or religious strife dominate our daily news and concerns and obscure the truly urgent task humanity has before it. That task is to reorient our relationship to the earth, to the natural world, before our current economic and industrial practices render it uninhabitable for future generations of humans and for much of the biotic community with whom we share it.
For generations the inculcation of a national allegiance in the American nation has started with children at the earliest ages beginning each schoolday reciting the Pledge of Allegiance To The Flag. First written by a Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy in 1892, the Pledge was meant to help the growing millions of immigrant children then arriving in the U.S. to identify with their new nation and the principles upon which it was founded. Over the next years the Pledge became popular and was adopted by various state school systems. In 1942 during World War II when the call for national unity was urgent Congress passed legislation making it the nation’s official Pledge of Allegiance. In the 1950s the words “under God” were added to emphasize the difference between the U.S. and communist nations during the Cold War.
When Bellamy wrote the Allegiance he stated,
"…if I can instill in the minds of our American youth a love of their country and the principles upon which it is founded I will not have lived in vain."
Numerous social science studies on the impacts of the Pledge on children would no doubt satisfy Bellamy’s goals. The Pledge has become what one author has called “a profound political ritual” which creates future political power for the nation by giving each young child a blueprint for what is meaningful for their future lives as American citizens (“One nation with liberty and justice for all’). Further, by daily repetition this ritual inculcates deep personal identification with the “flag of the United States of America.” The U.S. flag has therefore become an iconic, emotionally evocative symbol for most American adults and is typically raised both in celebration and as a unifying image when tragedy strikes the nation.
There are currently nearly 100,000 public elementary schools in America and more than 30,000 private schools. The Pledge of Allegiance is still doing its work to promote allegiance to the nation state in most of these schools.
And even internationally:
As part of its educational outreach program Foundation Earth is initiating an unprecedented campaign to encourage the use of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Earth in elementary school classrooms around the nation as well as encouraging our international partners to do so. The preferred version of the Earth Pledge is "I pledge allegiance to the Earth, to its mountains, rivers, soil and sky. One planet, irreplaceable, to be cherished and protected by all.” But of course schools can vary the language as long as it remains earth centered.
This Pledge need not supplant the current national Pledge of Allegiance. But just as that Pledge was adopted in urgent times, the Earth Pledge is called on by today’s planetary crises in climate, diversity loss, and many other arenas to create a greater identity and purpose for young children in identifying with and protecting the Earth and all its life forms. It will be a daily reminder of the ultimate loyalty of all humans to the irreplaceable source of our lives. As with the original Pledge it will also lay the basis for political power as the children grow up and become involved in the critical political and policy decisions their generation will have to make about protecting the planet. Posters with the Earth Pledge will carry the iconic image of the Earth from space as an image identification symbol for children when they say the Pledge. Of course countless other images of both the animate and inanimate features of the planet can and will be associated with the Pledge. As with Bellamy’s original feeling about the national Pledge creating generational loyalty to this nation, through the Earth Pledge those of us who have devoted ourselves to the protection of the planet can see this legacy and purpose carried on through this Pledge to the earth’s children for generations to come.
The Earth Pledge Campaign is working closely with a group of teachers and administrators who are eager to support the initiative. At least ten organizers will be brought on to work with these supporters to reach individual private schools, public school districts and teacher’s organizations. To aid in this work tens of thousands of Earth Pledge posters will be distributed to educators and activists around the country. Notifications will also be sent to the many millions of members of organizations supporting the Campaign who will be urged to promote the Earth Pledge at their local schools.
The Campaign will also work to create a large presence on social media, including major promotions for the Pledge on every Earth Day starting in 2016. The Earth Pledge website will include an interactive section where classes can post their own recorded version of the Pledge. There will also be a yearly contest for best Earth Pledge song and best poster design. Foundation Earth’s current Hollywood office will create public service announcements featuring celebrities reciting the pledge and encouraging schools to participate. This team will also work with children’s television programs to feature the Earth Pledge.
When the campaign is fully operational the goal is to have 3,000 schools adopt the Earth Pledge in the first year. As the message spreads the goal will be 5,000 more schools the following year, 10,000 more the next year. It is expected that within 3-5 years a tipping point will be reached where there is mass adoption of the Earth Pledge. The original organizing efforts will focus on private schools with a progressive orientation and public schools on both coasts with subsequent efforts then being used to gain support elsewhere in the country.
Ultimately the Campaign is designed to fulfill Thomas Berry’s hope that we can instill in our young people a primary allegiance to the Earth and its diverse life community. When children are raised to love the Earth they will defend it.
In creating the Earth Pledge, Foundation Earth drew inspiration from the profound impact the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag has had on generations of Americans. The national Pledge has been used in schools for over a century and officially since 1940s when Congress approved its use. Seeing the emotion the American Flag evokes at many of our public events from sports to entertainment, it is clear that this Pledge has had a profound impact on how Americans view and value their actual flag not just the country for which it stands. If this Pledge has encouraged many generations of Americans to be more appreciative, protective of and loyal to their flag and country what might it do for future generations feeling for the Earth?
The Earth Pledge concept was also inspired by the life and work of Thomas Berry (1914-2009). Cosmologist, cultural historian, ecological writer and thinker, Thomas Berry was one of towering figures in the environmental movement over the last century. Foundation Earth co-founder Andrew Kimbrell was fortunate to be a student, and long time friend, of Thomas Berry. As any who knew or followed Berry quickly learned he had a passion for children and for bringing Earth Education to them at an early age. He understood it was essential not only for children to appreciate how the Earth functioned and provided for our needs but also that a relationship with the Earth and all its elements was an essential aspect of their psychological, even spiritual, development. He felt this early relationship with the Earth was especially important in an age of what he referred to as “technological entrancement” where the young are often very quickly captured by computer and other technologies which can permanently distant them from the Earth. Berry wrote:
There is a need for awareness that the mountains and rivers and all living things, the sky and its sun and moon and clouds constitute a healing, sustaining sacred presence for humans which they need as much for their psychic integrity as for their physical nourishment.
Berry often wrote of the Earth as “the context” in which children “find their identity” and purpose. He wrote of the challenge in creating in the young a “new sense of reality and value” based in “transcending not only national limitations but even our species isolation.” This involved learning that beyond any other loyalty they have “a primary allegiance to the larger life community.” The Earth Pledge therefore is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Berry and designed to continue and amplify what he call “The Great Work” of transforming the human presence on the Earth from one of exploitation and destruction to one of protection, appreciation and celebration.
Andrew Kimbrell is an internationally recognized public interest writer, author speaker and a noted environmental attorney. He is a co-founder of Foundation Earth. He is alsothe founder and Executive Director of Center for Food Safety and the Director of the San Francisco based Center for Technology Assessment. Kimbrell also serves as the President of the Board of Humane Farm Animal Care (that administers the Certified Humane label).
Kimbrell’s public speaking and writing has covered a wide range of environmental, technology and economic issues. His work is influenced by the work of Thomas Berry, E.F. Schumacher and Theodore Roszak.Read More...
His published works include printed versions of his influential E.F. Schumacher lectures, "Cold Evil: Technology and Modern Ethics" (provide a site here they can read it from) and "Salmon Economics " which currently is the bestselling essay in the Schumacher series. (again provide a site where they can read it.
His books include his international best-selling book "The Human Body Shop: the Engineering and Marketing of Life," the nationally renowned book Fatal Harvest, The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, and also Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food. Kimbrell's articles and editorials have appeared in The New York Times, Harpers, USA Today, and numerous other print and new media publications such as The Huffington Post.
In addition to his legal degree Kimbrell also has a graduate degree in Psychology and has often written in the field including his book, "The Masculine Mystique." Kimbrell has been a featured speaker at dozens of colleges and universities around the country and other public forums including Google Author Talks, Slow Food Nation, Bioneers and Ecofarm. He is featured in several documentaries including "The Future of Food," and "FRESH."
As an attorney, Kimbrell has for decades won cases defending the environment. He initiated the court challenge that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court victory forcing, for the first time, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change. He also pioneered the legal strategy that led to the Supreme Court ruling that DNA is not patentable due to being a "product of nature." Through his leadership at CFS, Kimbrell has been at the forefront of legal challenges forcing FDA to adopt new food safety regulations and several federal agencies to regulate genetically engineered crops.. His legal work has also helped maintain the integrity of organic standards. He has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress.
Kimbrell's many accolades include a spot on the Utne Reader list of the world's leading 100 visionaries, and The Guardian recognizing him in 2008 as one of the 50 people "most likely to save the planet."
Besides his public interest work, Kimbrell's passions include his love of piano (stemming from his earlier career as a concert pianist), poetry, baseball, and wilderness fly fishing.
Randy Hayes is Executive Director of Foundation Earth, a new organization fostering the big rethink to help protect the planet’s life support systems. This requires rethinking economic models for deep long-term sustainability, earth jurisprudence, eco-technology policy, biospheric literacy, and environmental health. Hayes calls for a “True Cost Economy” that accounts for ecological externalities and honors carrying capacity limits. Hayes, was formerly an award winning filmmaker. He is a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Hayes founded the Rainforest Action Network and is emeritus on the Board of Directors.
In local government Hayes served for five years as president of the City of San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and for two-and-a-half years as director of sustainability in the office of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown (now governor).
He is an advocate of general systems theory and deep ecology. As a wilderness lover, Hayes has hiked and camped in the rainforests of the Amazon, Borneo, Central Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as the High Sierras, and the Canadian Rockies. He is a special advisor to the World Future Council.
Hayes has an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning from San Francisco State University. His master’s thesis, the award-winning film The Four Corners, won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for “Best Student Documentary” in 1983. He contributed to Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible, published by San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., in 2004. Not satisfied with short-term thinking, his 500-year plan offers a vision of a sustainable society and how to get there. Randy Hayes was honored by his corporate campaign activists peers in 2008 with an Individual Achievement Award, given by the Business Ethics Network. In 2010 he was San Francisco State University’s Alumni of the Year and inducted in the Alumni Hall Fame. Additionally, he was one of the original set of inductees in the National Environmental Hall of Fame.
Dr. Brent Blackwelder is an environmental organizer and teacher and is Vice-Chair and Treasurer of Foundation Earth’s Board. He teaches part-time at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. Brent served as president of Friends of the Earth from 1994 until his retirement to president emeritus in 2009. He was the founding chairman of American Rivers in 1973 and worked for 40 years on environmental issues, testifying over 100 times to Congress. In his 40-plus years of environmental advocacy he has been active in campaigns to reform foreign aid, save forests, protect rivers, and advance human rights. He was an architect of significant legislation to protect natural resources and clean up pollution.
Brent is a leader in the effort to save rivers -- he helped expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from eight rivers in 1973 to more than 250 today and helped eliminate more than 200 dams and stream dredging projects, which would have destroyed rivers, wetlands, wildlife and areas of significant scientific value. He founded American Rivers, the Environmental Policy Center and Environmental Policy Institute, and was the chairman of the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters.
Brent holds a bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Duke University and a master's from Yale University in mathematics and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Maryland. He currently serves as ex-officio and president emeritus of Friends of the Earth. He was listed by Vanity Fair magazine as one of the 22 Best Stewards of the Planet in 2005. Additional awards include: National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship 1964, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Graduate Fellowship 1964, Outstanding Alumnus Award, College of Arts & Humanities, University of Maryland 2001, Washingtonian Magazine, April 2008, featured as one of 30 environmental leaders in the DC metropolitan area, and Marquis Who’s Who in America.