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Taking a look beyond April
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This is another column that should have been written last week or even two weeks ago.

Frankly, I have become so lazy in my old, old age that it is harder to put thoughts into action. There is no excuse for not knowing what was coming up in April: Holy Week and Easter, ending of Legislature's session, Earth Day.

So now I am looking back and not anticipating. Hopefully, however, this year the after-effects will be positive and long-lasting.

At my church, Bethel Methodist, we had opportunities to be immersed in holiness: Lenten Luncheons, with short sermons every day, Maundy Thursday communion, Good Friday Tennebra Service, and, of course, glorious Easter celebrations. That much concentration on Christian beliefs should fuel us to live better daily lives.

As legislators and journalists review bills that have just been passed, we can find many that aim for good results. One that I hope the governor will veto again--the "campus carry" bill that allows guns on college campuses.

I was encouraged as I heard Rep. Kevin Tanner talk at the Historical Society meeting about several bills in which he had been especially involved. I had already congratulated him on his HB338. It creates an advisory council comprised of educational leaders who will choose a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO), accountable to the State Board of Education. The person will oversee a system of supports and assistance, including tangible resources, for low-performing schools.

The idea is to identify actions, programs, and resources which have worked in similar types of situations and experiment with some of those, as well trying new, creative ideas. There are many details which explicitly outline various procedures and requirements. As a former teacher, I find the details to be exciting and workable. I believe that if this system is completely implemented, it will provide many positive results.

Tanner also discussed legislation concerning Georgia's criminal justice system, changes which are targeted toward better rehabilitation and less recidivism, changes that are practical and not just idealistic.

All in all, he presented an optimistic outlook on results from the General Assembly. And we can certainly use some optimism!

In fact, I have decided to be optimistic about Earth Day, even though earlier I was feeling that we had achieved too little in the almost half-century since two U.S. Senators initiated the establishment of a National Earth Day to raise awareness of the need to take better care of our fragile planet.

Some of you may recall earlier columns written about a high school class which went "all out" to observe that first Earth Day and all that we began to learn! In fact, that experience led to my spending three years working with the Environmental Education Project in Atlanta Public Schools-- and I was an English teacher with little knowledge of the sciences involved. But I learned a lot about non-renewable resources and how we were rapidly depleting them,about non-biodegradable (it doesn't just go away) solid waste, about pollution in our water and air, and many ways in which we were abusing our wonderful dwelling place.

Because of such learning experiences, I have naturally been concerned about recent moves, especially on the national level, to get rid of some environmental regulations, perhaps even to close the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Then I remember how much recycling is being done, how many companies and governments have worked hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how many places are replacing pollutants with renewable energy sources, how the world consciousness has been raised about human effects on climate change. When I think of all things, I am proud to observe and endorse Earth Day.

What more can we do to make our planet safer?

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson County News.

 

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