Happy Earth Day everyone! There are many ways to celebrate the Earth’s gifts and warn against the “gifts” that the human beings are causing to harm the planet (‘gift’ in German means poison). I will share the associations of my Earth Day below and pose the question “Who is going to be our John McConnell in Sapanca?” and leave you with that. Learning about the history of the Earth Day is one google click away and I’m still grateful for it even though this very old and shaky netbook’s ingredients are derived from the heart of the earth as most things are. 

We humans are granted with the willpower, making connections (critical thinking) and written language so here I am typing away the sadness that I felt after learning about the oil leak in Sapanca Lake and thinking of  the founder of the Earth Day, John McConnell (the son of a preacher, a believer in care of the environment, founded on his Christian beliefs), and wondering if there are any sons or daughters of imams in Sakarya whose heart has bled with the news of the oil leak from a NATO pipeline on March 28, 2024. I pray and hope so. On January 28, 1969, a well called Platform A blew out off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, killing more than 10,000 sea animals. As a reaction to this, activists were mobilized to create environmental regulation and environmental education, and thus the Earth Day was born. It needs to be reborn here in Sapanca.

At UmAy, we live as we preach and do everything possible to care for the earth from educating children to limiting our consumption in all areas of daily life. We are trying to be role models and contribute to raise awareness beginning with the youth and children, and with our guests who have been kindly complying with all our rules/requests while we are hosting them at UmAy. 

During the pandemic lockdowns, I got to spend quite a bit of time at UmAy, witnessing the beauty, the peace and the cruelty of nature (male cats killed kittens and I buried them; the hard rains ruined the power and heating systems etc.) but the beauty and the peace always prevailed in retrospect. When I think of those days, a particular bird’s song and company stands out: “Kızılgerdan is their name,” a nature lover friend texted after I shared the photo, red-breasted robin was the equivalent in English. I was very touched by this beauty’s following me like a pet would, and I felt humbled (again and again) by the immense knowledge that nature holds in itself.

I confess changing directions multiple times in this short, transient life; being puzzled by the birdwatchers (age 15) and becoming vegetarian at 40. Change is inevitable and let us hope that it is for the better versions of our raw and green selves. Now, as we celebrate the earth or regret and reverse the harms to the earth, I am more grateful than ever for the journey that I have been offered so far. My lenses are colored deep green now, mixed with purple and porphyry tones (feminism) and I’m happy to add more colors as I age, like silver. But it is the moonlight’s colors that I welcome to my world ever since we reconstructed UmAy Initiative collectively. The moon needs other elements to reflect different colors and shapes so even if she may seem like the one telling stories and triggering various emotions, she is always practicing collectively. I salute this interdependency as I salute every element in Nature!