“A park is a work of art, designed to produce certain effects upon the minds of men.”
- Frederick Law Olmsted
Each year, Earth Day, April 22, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. The year, 1970, was a time of immense industry in America. Air pollution was at its height and there were few if any, legal consequences to harming the environment. During this time, a consciousness emerged that combined anti-war movements with environmental concerns. The national day of celebration, founded by Gaylord Nelson, was to focus on the environment.
On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans came together in streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. College students and universities organized protests. Grave disasters such as oil spills, toxic dumps, loss of wilderness, and extinction of wildlife became a matter for the public to consider. This movement provided people with the awareness to become active in the preservation of groups, societies and organizations fighting to keep nature safe. The first Earth Day led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
850 acres of magnificently maintained parks, circles and parkways is a result of the dedication of The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the first nonprofit organization in the nation to manage and operate an entire urban park system. The mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance, and maintain the parks in the Greater Buffalo area.
During the late 1800s, Frederick Law Olmsted came to Buffalo inspired by Joseph Ellicott’s street design. Olmsted created his first system of parks in Buffalo, calling the city “the best designed city in the country, if not the world.”
Today, more than 1 million people use Buffalo’s award-winning Park System that includes Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Riverside Park and South Park as well as adjoining parkways and circles. More than 135 years ago, the first landscape architect in America, Frederick Law Olmsted, implemented the design and Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As a nature lover and resident of Western New York and the City of Buffalo, I am grateful we exist in a region rich with nature and wildlife along with those that diligently support the park systems so we can enjoy them in the busy-ness of everyday life.
When I am driving, I stop, park, and take a walk through the numerous tree and garden lined trails of our parks. Some of them are home to cranes and ducks, birds and squirrels, flowers and flora. There are lakes and creeks. The parks are family friendly and clean, well maintained, wondrous actually so much that oftentimes I am simply amazed that in the middle of a city, I find peace. Peace within the treasures found within the Buffalo Olmsted Park System.
The Conservancy consistently requires our help to keep these efforts alive. There are simple, feasible ways to do this. One is becoming a member. There are different levels and each includes various incentives. Another is helping to save ash trees. Third is promoting the parks to others, write of them, photograph them, share your creativity with others. You can purchase a tree, rose bushes or bulbs.
On a larger scale, you can purchase a bench to honor one you admire and for the comfort of others enjoying the parks. For festivals and corporate events, there are numerous levels of sponsorship available.
Let us together, show the world, nature at our doorsteps.
Let us celebrate Earth Day, every day.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
– Margaret Mead
photos © Susan Marie/South Park Lake/Cazenovia Park