Letters to the Editor
Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dear Editor:

It is with a great deal of sadness that I read the last Going Green column by Chris Belland in Solares Hill last Sunday. His concern for the environment made a positive impact on many people. I am one of those people. He gave me the courage to speak at a city commission meeting in favor of mandatory recycling. He gave me the information I needed to guide my environmental club at Horace O'Bryant Middle School. This group, along with Key West High School's environmental club headed by science teacher Amy Jones, gave away reusable cloth grocery bags at both Fausto's Food Palaces on several different occasions. Bags were donated by Love Your Island, a subcommittee of the Key West Chamber of Commerce created by Chris Belland. I can't help but think that those efforts might have been a catalyst for Fausto's to switch from plastic to paper bags.

In addition, Chris encouraged numerous students to participate in citywide cleanups and often spoke to local students to inform them of the impending dangers to our world if we "do nothing." In addition, he provided schools with informational videos about local environmental issues. On Earth Day 2008, Chris and Annalise Mannix-Lachner engaged the help of the HOB environmental club to paint the recycling thermometer in Bayview Park. At that time the thermometer read a 7.3-percent recycling rate for the city of Key West. In four years, the thermometer has not been repainted to note any change.

I would like Chris Belland's last column to become a challenge to the Key West community in this new year. Encourage the city commission to explore the possibilities of the ideas presented in his previous column suggesting ways to handle our own waste in the community. The HOB students who painted the thermometer in 2008 are now Key West High School seniors. My hope is that on Earth Day 2012, those same students can repaint the thermometer to reflect an increase in the recycling rate. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day 2012 and to thank Chris Belland.

-- Stephanie Manaher

Teacher, Horace O'Bryant Middle School,

Key West

A devoted reader has sent us the following words of encouragement, taken from the Essential Writings of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, for the attention of Chris Belland on the occasion of Belland's last Going Green column published in Solares Hill last week:

"Birds' songs express joy, beauty and purity and evoke in us vitality and love. So many beings in the universe love us unconditionally. The trees, the water and the air don't ask anything of us; they just love us. Even though we need this kind of love, we continue to destroy them. By destroying the animals, the air and the trees, we are destroying ourselves. We must learn to practice unconditional love for all beings so that the animals, the air, the trees and the minerals can continue to be themselves.

"Our ecology should be a deep ecology-- not only deep, but universal. There is pollution in our consciousness that sows seeds of violence and anxiety in us and our children, polluting our consciousness just as we destroy our environment by farming with chemicals, clear-cutting the trees and polluting the water. We need to protect the ecology of the Earth and the ecology of the mind, or this kind of violence and recklessness will spill over into even more areas of life.

"Our Earth, our green beautiful Earth is in danger and all of us know it. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the situation of the world. If the Earth were your body, you would be able to feel the many areas where she is hurting. Many people are aware of the world's suffering and their hearts are filled with compassion. They know what needs to be done and they engage in political and social and environmental work to try to change things.

"But after a period of intense involvement they become discouraged because they lack the strength needed to sustain a life of action.

"Real strength is not in power, money or weapons but in deep inner peace."