Celebrating those who take care of us | Image by Melissa Askew
March is a month of celebrating those who take care of us–from our own mothers to the mother of us all, Earth. We recognize the contributions of women and individuals who identify as women during Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8). March is also when we usher in the beginning of spring (March 20) and the reawakening of the natural world so it is fitting that it is when we also celebrate International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).
To further elaborate on this month long celebration of those who take care of us, Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, offers this seed of wisdom for us to nurture:
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”
Few bonds are strong enough to bring people together and keep them connected than those between us and the environment. All life is impacted–positively and negatively–by changes to our physical surroundings. It will serve us well to recognize this reciprocal relationship and make sure our actions and decisions take this into consideration.
As Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States and strong advocate for the celebration and conservation of nature and natural spaces, said:
“The environment, after all, is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”
Stephanie Dyer, Environmental Program Manager, Eastgate
Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. Eastgate’s purpose is to “bring communities together to create a unified voice in areas such as transportation, water and air quality, land use planning, and local infrastructure projects.” Though not always immediately apparent, Eastgate and Ms. Dyer play significant leadership roles in the health and vitality of residents throughout the Mahoning Valley. Making these connections between people and the environment and between allocated resources and community needs are critical to ensuring residents in the Mahoning Valley are able to live long, active, prosperous lives. Ms. Dyer has been a critical connecter for HCP to make sure our partners are aware of upcoming grant opportunities, educational programming, and other resources to help grow and sustain parks and greenspaces projects of all shapes and sizes. Through her role at Eastgate, Ms. Dyer is active with the Mahoning River’s restoration efforts. This regional effort includes communities working without boundaries to restore the Mahoning River to a healthy, cleaner state for recreationists and bring about prosperity for the future of our Valley.
In her role at Eastgate, Ms. Dyer oversees or is involved in the following environmental planning programs:
- Eastgate’s water quality program offers a collaborative approach to educate our region’s members and residents about the importance of improving local water quality, managing stormwater, and protecting our surface drinking water resources.
- The 208 Plan is a requirement under Section 208 of the federal Clean Water Act to identify and address pollution problems within Eastgate’s metropolitan planning area. […] The 208 Plan assesses existing water quality conditions and population trends, identifies regional critical resources, addresses non-point source pollution trends, and reassesses wastewater facility planning via the region’s wastewater treatment planning prescriptions. Eastgate’s current 208 Plan was updated and adopted in 2018. The next 208 Plan update will come in 2022
- The Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Fund program was established in 2000 by the voters of Ohio to provide local communities monetary assistance to preserve open space, protect sensitive ecosystems, expand local park footprints, and restore streams through a local process. Mahoning and Trumbull counties comprise District Six, with Eastgate being the local administrator of the funds.
- Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and thirteen communities along the Mahoning River are working together to restore a river that built our region- the Mahoning River. […] Eastgate recognizes the Mahoning river as an asset, not a liability, to our region. The river, per the Ohio EPA’s 2013 biological and chemical survey, is making a comeback both in water quality and fish diversity. Eastgate wants to continue the upward progression of the river’s health by working with communities along the river to remove the remaining lowhead dams and restore the river to its natural, free flowing state.
These programs have enabled local governments and park districts to acquire hundreds of acres to expand, enhance, and ensure natural assets like parks, wetlands, and nature preserves are protected and present for decades to come. Ms. Dyer’s presence and perspective within HCP has been invaluable to encouraging us to think bigger and bolder about the impact we can have on the environment with the projects we pursue.
As we bring Women’s History Month to a close and continue to celebrate the great re-greening that comes with the promise of spring, the Partnership shows our deep appreciation and gratitude for those who take care of us. And, we renew our commitment to making sure we do our part to uphold the sacred bond between people and the planet—to keep focusing on moving forward towards becoming a brighter, healthier community.