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The Common Agenda — Resources

Today’s Voices

In the early phases of developing the content of the Common Agenda for Health and Environment, Toward Tomorrow solicited feedback from the public regarding their visions for the future. We asked, “What would the world look like if society embraced the connections between public health and the environment?” The following are selections of the voices collected in that phase of the project.

Stay at home mom trying to be the change she wants to see in the world

“A healthy human population would understand what ‘enough’ is. If we could be a healthy population who looked inside at what really inspires us as individuals and let that drive us, instead of the voices of greed/ pressures from family and friends/ advertising/ money… Who could we be as a larger people? When you individualize your world you tend to not just walk through it but to be a part of it… You connect with yourself, your loved ones and the world around you in a different way. You feel yourself being the change.”

David, under 40

“Maybe we should be ready to pay more for manufactured goods that don’t need to be shipped across an ocean and then trucked across a continent. Maybe we shouldn’t be eating Chilean tomatoes in December (they don’t taste like tomatoes, anyway) — or anything from New Zealand, ever. Maybe local lettuce with minimal pesticides is actually better for us, and the environment, than organic lettuce shipped here all the way from Mexico. It’s time to dust off that old line, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” because it’s more important in this global economy than ever.”

Don, realtor

“My hope for the future is for all individuals in the world to begin accepting personal responsibility for all their actions, thereby changing the world.”

Grace, student

“Government policies should promote human dignity and respect for the environment to cultivate healthy populations and protect that which is most vulnerable.”

Janet, volunteer

“I hope people will look at the choices they make every day. What you eat, what you wear, where you spend your money, all have an impact on the world. Vote, speak up, advocate! Silence implies consent.”

Jim, student

“A healthy human population must simultaneously envision itself as being worldwide and local. The 13th Century Christian Mystic Dame Julian of Norwich, during a near-fatal illness, saw a vision of 'something small, no bigger than a hazelnut lying in the palm of my hand, and I perceived it was as round as any ball… It is everything which is made. I was amazed that it could last, for I thought it was so little it could suddenly fall into nothing…' This is our world, and while we need to see to it that everyone has meaningful work, nutritious food, pure water, shelter, heat, shade and light, each in his/her tiny place, every decision must be made with the awareness of its effect on that tiny hazelnut Earth.”

Regine, small business owner

“Americans need to believe in themselves again, not in politicians.”

Rodah, student

“Cities are too car dependent: there are no parks, no common spaces, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods. It’s a problem that is contributing to violence, obesity and depression. I wish there were city officials who took this seriously.”

Susan, writer and avid gardener

“Re-connect with the Earth, love the Earth, get dirt under our fingernails. Come together in communities to create beauty and real security.”

William, retired organizer

“During the last 35 years I have helped more than 400 citizen’s groups throughout this country on a wide variety of environmental and social justice issues. I have never seen a situation where the people had what they needed to participate on equal footing with government agencies or corporations. Usually the public agencies and the corporations are working together and the public may get in at the end of what is usually a multi year process. The playing field is never level and the rules of the game are usually never shown to the interested public. Those groups which are the most creative, who connect with the news media, their public officials, other groups and the public at large are the ones who are more likely to succeed.”