By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Wisconsin, Buddhists, trash and cherry trees. All these things have something in common.
Former Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, founded Earth Day on April 22 in 1970.
Soka Gakkai International is a non-governmental organization of the United Nations that operates through Buddhist teachings.
Garden Grove Park at 9301 Westminster Blvd. had trash in it that needed cleaning up.
And the cherry trees are the things that touch on every one of these.
On Saturday, SGI planted two blossoming cherry trees in Garden Grove Park after a trash clean that was part of their Earth Day Festival.
The theme of the festival was “My Earth! My Victory!” and focused on action to preserve the planet, stopping violence through youth education, creating youth global involvement and promoting a world environment of sustainability and shared responsibility.
Mayor Bill Dalton said that the city of Garden Grove is very dedicated to sustainable development projects and is constantly looking for new ways to conserve and preserve.
Dalton said that retrofitting for efficiency, using solar panels, diverting waste and using clean fuel vehicles for the city significantly cuts costs.
“We’re a smaller city and don’t have the big money draws like malls or Disneyland,” said Dalton, “In some ways certain things seem taken for granted. We have to be more creative and look at ways to cut back costs.”
Dalton said that the festival was a great way to spread diverse dialogue about local and global issues with conservation.
The Victory Over Violence campaign had an exhibit set to spread awareness for youth. The campaign started in 1999 is centered around understanding what and how verbal, physical and emotional abuse is and how oppression and suppression operate on economic, cultural, social and political levels.
They also discuss and work together to understand how apathy and indifference impact all these situations on a personal, local and global level.
The Seeds of Change Exhibition highlighted the position of natural resources and how average, everyday people were able to and are helping make a difference. The mission statement reads, “A few people enjoy lives of relative comfort. Most people in our world struggle to survive in impoverished conditions . . . no matter how complex global problems may seem, it is we ourselves who have given rise to them. They cannot be beyond our power to resolve.”
There was also a booth on the Earth Charter Initiative, which is based out of Costa Rica and Sweden. The Earth Charter is the basis for the Seeds of Change program and is focused on international and sustainable interdependence.
The Rock the Era Youth Initiative that was featured at the festival is the national program to inspire and involve young people to help create a more peaceful and sustainable future.
However, all of these concepts could not have had a forum on Saturday if not for the help of the first park clean-ups that started six years ago.
Renu Debozi, SGI organizer of the Earth Day event, said that in 1999 a group of SGI members initiated the clean up of Twin Lakes Park with the City of Garden Grove.
“Their request was approved and cleaning began on April 20,” said Debozi, “The condition of the park was such that for about three months, the city sent police cars to the cleaning site to protect the volunteers from homeless people and an unsafe environment.
In 2000, the situation at the park dramatically changed through the monthly cleaning activity . . . for 6 years now, a small group of Soka Gakkai members have cleaned the park every month.”
At a local level, SGI’s work in Garden Grove is cleaning up parks, spreading the concept of human revolution through Buddhist philosophy, creating youth programs and sponsoring events, exhibits and symposia.
This monthly park clean up and yearly festival is small link in the chain of a larger movement.
According to Debozi, Soka Gakkai International President Daisaku Ikeda issued a proposal, in 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. He called calling for education to be the basis of progress toward a sustainable future.
Ikeda stated, “If people are to take environmental issues as their personal concern education is vital. Only education can provide the driving force for such a renewal of awareness.”
Ikeda suggested three key themes for the decade; learning, reflection and empowerment.
The festival covered all three concept themes. And tidied up the park as well.