86,400 Seconds for Earth Day


That is what we have each day. What we do with each day is up to us for the most part, decisions we make, actions we take. And only a few of those seconds on any one decision changes how we think, who we trust, and lives we affect. It only takes one second to push a button, pull a trigger, choose to support a cause, or decide to act responsibly. My question is…

“Who killed the kindness?” That is my question for this Earth Day.


I look at gardeners as compassionate, caring, giving people, but does that start in youth? Were these traits something instilled from family, from society, from school?


See more hummingbird photos in Hummingbird Closeups with the Nikon P510.

When you look at recent tragedies, bombings and school shootings, one has to wonder which one of the three went wrong with the young individuals committing these acts. Civility in our culture is at an all time low, choice in the way we treat our environment and each other declining daily.


Do you remember what it was like to be a kid growing up? Not very long ago kids had a childhood that included days playing outside hours on end. They played unsupervised by adults – riding bikes, climbing trees, building forts, chasing butterflies, and catching frogs. I know, I did. It was a life lived outdoors in the fields and forests.

What happened to this life? More importantly have kids today lost the life-guiding lessons that nature and nurture taught us?


Many kids, and adults alike, have become distant to nature’s interconnectedness. Teaching reverence for all living things is starting to fade, beauty is barely noticed in the hurried activities of each passing day.


I think many don’t make the association of our connection to all of nature, and that to some level, makes us as adults look at our gardens as “ours”, not sharing it with an entire ecosystem, let alone the community in which we live.

So many look to kill everything that moves in a garden, with little regard to why the organism is there in the first place. Little regard is taken in what the sprays kill in neighboring gardens either.


Kids used to work the family farms. They learned how plants and animals relate as they toiled doing farm chores. They saw how the bees worked the hedgerow plants and how fence rows and field borders provided a higher quality and diversity of habitat for wildlife.

Now farms and gardens alike thoughtlessly nuke the insects with pesticides and eradicate the weeds with herbicides. Huge mega-farms grow a monoculture of genetically modified plants, putting small farms out of business. I just saw an interview where about 70% of all food in the market has been modified to some extent, even if just as a select hybrid.


Farming is big business today, and family farms are almost a lost way of life. Commercial farms are devastating the family farm and the habitats supporting all the insects and creatures with mass commercial spraying. Nature is telling us some very important things lately with the decline of bees and bird species. Kids are telling us something to, but I am not sure what it is.


Gardening teaches lessons in nurturing, caring, respecting and understanding. Each time we plant, water, condition the soil, and allow the insects to do their thing we are being respectful while providing sustenance for ourselves in that which grows. It teaches respect and conservation for far off places like rainforests too.

So what does this have to do with recent events? I think an awful lot. Many are losing the connection and distancing themselves from the world’s realities. Not in a physical sense, but one in a collective sociological sense. Like in a video game, being there but not.  Having no consequence of actions.


Maybe more kids need to be introduced to gardening. Gardening without the killing. Sure it is naive to think it a real solution, but it might create more kindness and community in the world. Just a thought.

Here is a problem and a solution with some tough talk and the huge dose of the reality I was speaking about – and what gave me the inspiration for the post.

In the video, Ron Finley from South Central, Los Angeles says, “Let’s all become gangsta gardeners. We have to flip the script on what a gangsta is. If you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta. Let that be your weapon of choice!” Check it out, he is DOING what I mentioned in this post, connecting back to nature, growing food and teaching children.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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46 Responses to 86,400 Seconds for Earth Day

  1. That video is very inspirational. I started a gardening program at a homeless shelter in North Philadelphia and had the same response. The food desert issue needs to receive a lot more publicity. People assume that economically disadvantaged people choose to eat unhealthy food, but that it is often not the case. The City of Chester, PA, population 35,000 has no grocery stores at all, and the residents don’t have cars or access to groceries through public transportation. Can you imagine doing all your food shopping at a 7 Eleven?

    • The City of Niagara Falls almost suffered the same fate of no grocery store. Two others closed since I lived here and the last remaining one was on the chopping block. I recently learned something I was suspicious of for a long time – that this store gets the ‘older, less salable fresh produce and meats’. Kudos for starting a program Carolyn. It is very commendable.

  2. yourothermotherhere says:

    I think you’ve definitely hit on something here. Everything on Earth is connected, but we fail to realize that in so many ways.

    I was raised on a dairy farm and I know what you mean about corporate farms. Is it possible to turn back the clock? Yes, but will it happen? The excuse used is that we need the corporate farms to feed the global population, but has it become a cause and effect scenario? It’s a tough call. Who eats and who doesn’t?

    • This topic gets ensnared in touchy social issues and polar politics unfortunately, rather than the real issue at hand, the kids and changing the way they are brought up. I believe it worked before with family farms but the money is too enticing. Farmers sell their property after not being able to support the life. The cycle keeps turning until the world is one big Walmart. The world’s population? It will not reverse as more and more that have little keep making more and more mouths to feed. Where is the responsibility to self and community?

      • yourothermotherhere says:

        Which brings it full circle again. Your post brought so many questions into my mind. We claim to be so civilized, yet we are killing ourselves because even if we don’t have a hand in it directly, we are allowing those who do to continue unchallenged. Where will it all end? For me, I’ve got to put my faith in God because going by our track record, I sure can’t put it in humanity.

  3. What a great post with so much to think about. Going to go check out Ron Finley now!
    Happy Earth Day!!

  4. I could relate to this. My country has a lot of land where farming and gardening can take the spotlight but alas, farmers and gardeners have left, opting for ‘easier’ jobs. Some lands are dry and barren, some taken over by the unfair world of industrialization.
    I love the flowers here, the colors are soothing and calming.

    • It is very much a shame what happens around the world, and much because people have little choice because of little opportunity. But it keeps magnifying too. Everyone can grow some food if they have a little land, and even if they don’t, produce can grow in pots. I do it every year and provide salads each day. If I could have chickens in the city, I would too.

  5. HolleyGarden says:

    I agree that people have become ruder, and less conscious of their actions. Even I get pulled into the social ‘norm’ and occasionally have to remind myself to be kind! It seems that hardly anyone is anymore. I watched a movie this weekend, and in it at one point, there was a conversation between two high school kids. Even their words were violent and forceful – and they were friends! I wondered – oh, my gosh, is this how they talk? But, deep down, I knew it to be true, at least in some schools. It was very arrogant, very self-centered. I think that is the root. Self-centeredness. Perhaps gardening would allow others to see a world outside of themselves, but I do wonder about the social fabric in the next few generations. Of course, I’m certain our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents wondered about the changes that were taking place in the 60’s, 50’s, even as far back as the 20’s!

    • I am astounded at the way kids talk to each other, especially the bullying on social media. It becomes frenzied and the kids on the receiving end resort to unspeakable measures taking their own lives or those of others. Pushed to the limit, they react. The states are looking at criminalizing cyber bullying, but who knows where that will lead. I agree on it being self-centered. I see that first hand, people only thinking of their own pleasure at the expense of others. There is no control on this behavior either.

  6. A.M.B. says:

    It’s hard to look at the news these days, isn’t it? Interestingly, though, I’ve read that violent crime has been on the decline since the 1990s, but clearly, we still have a problem. I love your idea to introduce more children to gardening. Not only would it encourage a connection with the earth, but it also encourages a connection with each other. I would also suggest that we subsidize early childhood education (where children learn to interact and communicate with each other). My children’s day care/preschool even has a community garden (they donate the vegetables to a food pantry).

    • I cannot believe the news and only see it getting more widespread. The recent acts in Boston are only a catalyst for others creating the same or similar mayhem. How could kids raised here harbor such hatred? What was missing in their lives?

  7. Alistair says:

    A very timely post Donna with lots of thoughtful and meaningful stuff and how glad am I that for a change I put myself about and clicked to see what Ted had to say.

    • Thank you Alistair. TED talks do get some very interesting individuals . I really like what this guy is doing and respect his reason for doing it. The only thing that seems a bit odd, is how he encourages people to ‘steal’ the produce. You would think he would encourage them to want to learn to grow their own a bit more. That or help to plant and care for the sidewalk crop. I know he wants kids to learn to eat better foods by planting these gardens. I just think the intercity kids need more interaction in the gardens besides picking the fruit and veggies to snack on. Maybe I missed that in the video that I watched twice.

      • Alistair says:

        Yes, I must admit I did find Teds remarks about nicking the produce funny, in a Chris Rock sort of way, what you say about the kids needing more interaction is so true.

  8. I think you make a lot of valid points. I also think, though, that a big part of what is going on is that the average person faces a great deal more economic insecurity than they did a generation ago. The idea that an ordinary job should provide enough income for a person to support a family is almost completely gone. The balance of power has swung towards the wealthiest and the big corporations. Most people are losing not just income but also dignity. At the economic, social, and individual level, there is a growing harshness. The gentleness and patience that is part of gardening at its best tends to get squeezed out in such a world.

    • Gentleness and patience should be part of everyone’s world regardless of circumstance. Is that not what religion teaches? I agree the idea of ‘job’ has changed in our lifetime. I have been fortunate, but then again worked very hard for the opportunity in education and experience. So has my husband in his extensive training and lifelong work. No one handed either of us our path in life either. I went to college on full scholarship or would not have been there unless I could pay for it. I also worked at an architecture firm during school. It was tough at times, but I did it.

      I don’t look at the balance of power as being a factor. Someone has to provide those jobs and every individual is responsible unto themselves. No one is obligated to them. Yes, people lose their jobs, but they choose to lose dignity. “At the economic, social, and individual level, there is a growing harshness.” I see this as nothing but an excuse and justification for what people do that is wrong and against the law. When this bitterness, resentment, and envy surface, so does the inappropriate actions to get back at whomever they see responsible for their misfortune. Are these people right in their actions because they have it harder than others in life? I can feel for their circumstance, but not condone their way to express their failings. I can’t wait to see the defense for the Boston bomber. The excuses will flow…and I bet that kid had it good. He was in college too. Sorry if I sound political. I am not that at all. I just believe hard work makes the person and opportunity comes to those that prepare well. I live in a city and see way too much of what you speak and I think most make the bed in which they lie.

  9. It was hard to keep reading because you have such fantastic flower and bird photos here ! But to go with your thoughts. It is true about the disconnect with the younger generation and nature. I attribute it to the 1980’s and the drive for materialism and city living. Here’s hoping revelation will come to the young ones and nature is rediscovered and treasured.

    • I think it coincides with the advent of the video games. But you are right, the 80’s did change attitudes. I was in architecture school then and saw a huge difference in kids and their outlooks on life in general. Oddly, it was then also that I was introduced to sustainable design and building. That was a decade or two after it became popular, but a greater effort was being made in materials used and manufactured in the 80’s. Awareness was happening because it was becoming more necessary and evident.

  10. Brian Comeau says:

    It’s certainly been a very sad few weeks. Powerful video and some great ideas. Makes me wonder what would happen if we did this in my town? Great post and interesting thoughts.

  11. alesiablogs says:

    I cried reading your post.

    • Oh, I am so sorry, Alesia.

      • alesiablogs says:

        Oh. It was all good. I am just a very emotional person and I realized how important your words are!

        • Thank you. So much has happened lately that I think kids need more attention and love in their lives. I do not have kids and only see it as an outsider. I only did some teaching at university level, but had kids come to me and tell me I made a difference in their lives and future careers. I can only imagine how rewarding it is making those differences daily and shaping those for a lifetime.

  12. Children today live in a virtual world not the real world. They get lost in cyberspace and computer games instead of in nature. I read a recent article that stated that 1 in 5 British children have never seen a bee in the wild. That is just a staggering statement! I teach gardening to two groups of 3rd graders at a low income school. We have created a school garden and the children LOVE to be out there and grow their own food as well as learn about pollinators. You should see their eyes light up when they discover something new in the garden. I hope that they will carry this experience with them and be kind to nature and maybe one day become gardeners. In the school systems today just getting kids outdoors be it for recess or learning is a small feat. My children are thrilled if they get 15 minutes of recess. I remember having it twice a day for 30 minutes when I was in elementary school. Oh how times have changed and not for the better. Children definitely suffer from nature deficiency!

    • You get to see the children when their life long personalities are forming. I read at six, kids start forming the people they will become, so by third grade, they must still be very impressionable. I think society does not put enough importance on this time of development, at home or in school. That age span seems to be when one can make the most difference. I remember you writing about the school garden. It is a wonderful thing to have for the kids, especially those that never see nature firsthand at home. I designed one for our local elementary school too, but I never get to see it in action. I suppose it is making a difference as the teachers guide the kids to new experiences. You must be a wonderful, caring teacher. I remember our first grade teacher was such a sweet person, but our second grade teacher was a troll. Third grade again was a wonderful person. Two out of three was not bad!

  13. janegerow says:

    Really nice photos!

  14. Lovely Captures:) Makes me want to escape to the garden and do some photography!

  15. Skeeter says:

    Wow, you are so correct with how children are these days. We drive through neighborhoods and rarely do we see children outside playing. They are all stuck inside letting technology take over their brains. I love the video and wouldn’t this be a wonderful program in every City in America!

    • In my own neighborhood I see the same, but in most cases wish the kids to remain inside. Many cause a lot of trouble in the city. It is sad to for the folks that cannot afford to move away. I would love to leave, but my husband does not like change.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Sadly, I think there will always be bad people and bad things that happen in this world Donna. What I like about the activist in the video is his optimistic approach. He sees problems, yes, but he is making a positive change and inspiring others to do the same.

    • So true, but would it not be better to catch this proclivity in youth? Are bad people born or do they become this way from society and peer pressure? What I read, there is something to the ‘bad gene’, but I doubt this is the case in the current tragedy.

      I like that Ron took a stand and wants change. I wish him much luck that his neighborhood makes progress with the kids.

  17. Very interesting video. I like his idea of changing the community by changing the ‘soil’. Yup, it makes sense to look where you are growing and fix that environment.

  18. Karen says:

    All of what you have said in this post is very true. Society has changed in so many ways, the world is becoming increasingly overpopulated, and a great many other reasons exist for this radical change from our childhood days. I am afraid we can only do what we can do, teach our kids good values and stand up and act upon for what you believe in.

  19. I love this video…I will plainly say that these things need to be taught at home as I know many teachers teach this at school…but we have parents who have little regard for nature…they teach their children that we can act however we want if we want to…it is a me society with little boundaries anymore…but I too am naive and continue to do what I know I was taught..those golden rules…after all I was raised in fields, creeks, woods…nature was my teacher and my parents taught us to respect all…remember that Andy Griffith Show when Opie killed the momma sparrow and he raised the babies…what a fabulous lesson.

    • I am glad the video was inspiring. I know there are good teachers in the world, but there are those that give up on some of the bad kids too. I cannot blame them either. Kids are not kids anymore. They see too much on TV to emulate that shapes their being and pushes them well beyond their years. It is similar to us growing up with wholesome shows. But our generation really did span the eras of unjust and civil unrest too which shaped our beliefs.

  20. catmint says:

    Such a heartfelt post, responding to the terrible things that happened in the last week in the US. I totally agree with you. At times it is hard but we must just keep trying to spread the message of the importance of nature. Ron F. is inspiring. An inspiring figure in Australia is Stephanie Alexander. A chef and writer, she started a foundation to help every school get a garden, grow veggies and cook them. It’s worked – most schools seem to do this now. You can check it out at this address: http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/

    • I did hear of Stephanie Anderson when I was designing for school gardens. Thank you for noting her. You are right, it has become more common in schools. Some planted nature gardens with native plants too. Our local library did that.

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  22. I think getting kids back outside, into nature, into the garden, watching wildlife, appreciating reality would be beneficial to shaping their lives. I know mine were exploring all that was outside, and they continue to appreciate the world around them.

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