Celebration, Connection, and Intention
Mia Ambroiggio, Sustainability Fellow, reflects on the nuances of celebrating Earth Day and her experience volunteering at Wolfe's Neck Farm.
Earth Day is met with skepticism in certain spheres, I’m aware of that. And rightfully so. The holiday can give greenwashing corporations an opportunity to advertise their “eco-friendly” products or urge consumers to take action and the responsibility of undoing the company’s perpetual wrongs. Justified arguments have also been made that a mere 24 hours of appreciation and dedication towards the earth is not sustainable nor enough.
We all have our Earth Day rituals. To me, Earth Day is celebratory. Earth Day is reading copious amounts of Mary Oliver describing her garden caterpillars or dog running along a beach, breathing the outside air in big and deep, or seeking solitude in a nearby nature preserve. The way that we connect with and celebrate earth is sacred and subjective, and Earth Day gives us a reminder that this connection is important, as it grounds and moves us.
I spent my first Earth Day in Maine at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, a coastal sustainable farm dedicated to regenerative agriculture and community education. After gathering with the other volunteers under a tent and adjacent to a makeshift morning coffee station, we split up into small groups to complete the day’s projects. I spent this Earth Day raking straw off of budding strawberries and attempting to gently tuck onions into soil. Other fellows trimmed burdock, pulled weeds, planted beets, chard, kale and other treasures.
This service day was meaningful in more ways than one. Days of service come with the unique experience of having all of the Resilience Corps in the same place, at the same time. The cohort is usually scattered throughout the region, working on projects that are unfamiliar to one another. Besides a biweekly zoom meeting and group chat to share small victories with one another, we rarely get to serve together. At Wolfe’s Neck, however, we were working collectively, hopping around to complete our projects while catching up with each other via giggly side conversation. I was smitten by the realization that we do not only have an innate connection to earth, but earth fosters our connection to each other.
In addition to moments spent with each other, spending the day at Wolfe’s Neck expanded my idea of what serving the earth means to me. Serving and connecting with the earth is staring at a computer screen in the Sustainability Office, sure, but it is also wedging soil underneath my fingernails as I plant onions in the ground. Both are needed; both are important.
In my opinion, passionate and ambitious climate action sprouts from the connection we build with the earth, the air, the soil. To have a day dedicated to that connection, and the promise to be better in honor of that connection, is wildly important despite its downsides.
Mia grew up in Villa Park, Illinois, before moving to Chicago to earn her bachelor’s degrees in environmental studies and communication studies, with a minor in urban studies and sustainability, from Loyola University Chicago. During her time at Loyola, Mia was heavily involved in advocacy and education through Women in Leadership Loyola, an intersectional feminist organization, and wrote on climate and justice as an opinion columnist for the Loyola Phoenix. Off campus, Mia worked to create inclusive, transparent climate communications as well as sustainability programming and engagement through internships with neighborhood environmental nonprofits and large cultural institutions in Chicago. Outside of work, Mia enjoys creative writing, wandering to new places, re-watching comfort movies, and staring at the moon. Despite becoming familiar with sustainability concepts through academic coursework and internships, Mia is excited to apply her sustainability foundation to projects that will benefit the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the greater Portland region, absorb the knowledge and experience of her host site coworkers, and expand her conception of resilience through collaboration with her cohort!