"If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon" R.E.M.
July's full moon is sometimes referred to as the Buck Moon, because this is the time of year when deer antlers are at their fullest. But, it is also known as the Thunder Moon due of the high frequency of thunderstorms in the month of July. This past Tuesday's full Thunder Moon proved to be particularly significant as it was also the last lunar eclipse of the year and it occurred on the exact date of the 50th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Apollo 11 moon mission. Although the eclipse was only visible in Africa, Europe and western Asia, all eyes were turned to the moon as many of us remembered how riveted we were to the news coverage of the launch, moon landing, moon walk and return to Earth of the heroic astronauts. For many of us, our world view shifted over the course of those events. We came to believe in science and in the possibilities of attaining something that seemed quite impossible at the onset.
Appropriately as I write this, a thunderstorm is in full swing outside and a deluge of rain is pounding on our roof. Simultaneously, a re-broadcast of an episode PBS's series Sinking Cities is playing on the television in the background (Click the image to the right to view the episode). Intermittently the audio is being drowned out by the rain and thunder making it difficult to hear about the challenges facing New York City with regard to increasingly severe storms, sea-level rise and future storm surges. Hmmmm.
It is easy to fall into despair about all that we hear and witness first-hand happening in our world, but luckily there are still optimists, dedicated scientists and inventors hard at work. On a recent trip to Montreal, Canada I was fortunate to visit The Biosphere Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The museum is located within the inspired and forward-thinking dome designed by Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 World Expo. Currently showing at the Biosphere is a exhibition entitled, Habitats 2067: futuristic eco-responsible neighbourhoods. This exhibition examines some of the key principles that should be looked at for designing a sustainable, human-scale neighbourhood in 50 years’ time. Several outstanding Canadian and international projects are highlighted that each respond to current social and environmental issues. Each research project makes happiness and quality of life top priorities while also proposing viable solutions to some of humanity's most pressing concerns. It is a "moon launch" type of exhibit that is very inspiring.
Throughout our trip in Canada we saw folks from all walks of life embracing a more forward and thoughtful way of living. Eating and drinking what was locally available and in season were the norm (yay hard cider!) as were public "watering stations" for refilling re-useable water bottles. Although not as pervasive as in Quebec, we also found ingenuity and inspiration alive and well in Vermont. There we found iced-coffee cups with "sip-able" lids eliminating the need for straws and amazingly a rest area that recycled waste water on site.
These visionaries epitomize the optimism of John F. Kennedy's words from his "We choose to go to the moon" speech and give me hope. "We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people." If you believed they put a man on the moon, it is time to believe once again. A better built bathroom facility is just one small step towards a brighter and more sustainable future.