From screech owls to extremophiles, the 29th annual Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE) conference swirled with cool ideas for the hundreds of attendees to bring back to their worlds. I’m thrilled to have added Peace Pilgrim to the mix. Barely anyone in the amphitheater for my Saturday morning keynote heard of her before and were amazed that:
- Peace Pilgrim was the first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail in a season.
- she gave up everything, including her name, and walked across the country seven times with only the clothes on her back to spread her message of people.
- her words live on in booklets and other materials sent free to millions of people around the world.
- she’s honored with a statue at the U.N. Peace University in Costa Rica (along with Mahatma Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt.)
- she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981, but her untimely death that year prevented her consideration. (We’re trying to have Peace Pilgrim inducted into the 2014 NJ Hall of Fame, so stay tuned on voting for her in April.)
Her life story and her simple messages of love and peace seemed to have touched a chord in many. So I hope the pebble I threw into the pond at ANJEE has ripples that spread to classrooms and environmental centers around the state.
Wouldn’t it be great if a new generation of eco-citizens in her home state were inspired by Peace Pilgrim, along with Otis the wingless screech owl, the extremophiles and all the tremendous resources at ANJEE? [OK, there weren’t any real extreme life forms at the conference – but there was great info about wetlands and their connection to NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life 😉 ]