“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
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Forty years ago today, the modern environmental movement was born. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, outraged from the lack of concern Washington showed at an enormously devastating oil spill off the coast of California the previous year, took action. He devised a national event: a “teach-in” hosted on college campuses to educate the public, raise awareness, and force politicians to act on issues concerning the environment.
UTC answered this call to action. They began the day on April 22, 1970 by picking up a mountain of trash from alongside Chattanooga’s famed W Road. The students then returned to campus to stage their own “teach-in”. Above are two images from UTC’s 1970 yearbook featuring those students taking their stand for the environment. They were primarily protesting the air quality in Chattanooga. [In 1969, Chattanooga was named “the most polluted city in the U.S.” by the U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare.] These students helped to raise awareness of a serious environmental issue that has been corrected- kudos to them!
Feet firmly planted on my soapbox, I must add: It is easy to become complacent as we hear about the irreversible devastation of our environment and think there is little we can do. The phrase “going green” is dropped so frequently now it has become little more than background static. UTC’s enrollment was around 3,500 when those first students answered that call to action. In 2010 our student body surpasses the 10,000 mark. When the pond gets bigger, it’s easier to believe that someone else will act. Don’t wait for someone else- YOU matter & can make a difference. Follow this link to the official Earth Day website for details and how you can get involved.