Earth Day Then and Now

I’ve been known to “recycle” past writing for newer pieces. I’ve often had additional insights or refined my craft a bit more since the original work, and I much prefer revising over starting from a blank page. Recently I discovered MUCH earlier writing and was surprised by its relevance today.

I began this year with a major downsizing of my home art studio so I could add my writing desk and bookshelves to that space. I now have two, light-filled areas for my creative work. Most of my visual art for the past twenty years has involved bookbinding and other paper arts, and the clean-out uncovered some treasures. One was a handbound book I made titled Then and Now. The variation of a dos à dos binding—two books in one—included memorabilia from my high school graduation in 1971 on one side (then) and on the other side, photos and reflections from my 30th high school reunion (now – which has also become then). 

One memory from “then” came from the high school newspaper. I was startled to discover a copy of one of the pieces I wrote for my column, “Let’s Talk It Over.”  I barely remember those days as a columnist, and I have no recollection of writing this piece published in April 1970.  When I came across it during the downsizing, I was stunned by my fervor—and the amount of research I did without the benefit of Google. Here it is, fifty years later, un-revised. And yes, Stacey Northcote was my name then. How I became Iris Graville is another story, for another time.

As we approach the now of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day,  I’m grateful to have this perspective from my 17-year-old, anti-pollution self.  She wondered what Earth Day 2000 would be like, probably not able to really imagine a time so far into the future. Yet, she guides me now as I work on essays about the climate crisis facing us on Earth Day 2020. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I still believe, like her, it’s vital we act to heal the earth—every day.

Image of Earth Day 1970 from


  1. I love being reminded of the Stacey I first knew and fell in love with!!! Iris isn’t too shabby either!!! xo, m.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Hi Iris,
    a tantalizing tease-your name change. I, too had a different name when I was a senior in high school. Penny. For some reason, Carol didn’t sound au courant enough for me.
    This column is evocative in many ways; your two books in one-interesting!!
    If I may, I’d like to correct something in a previous column, the one about hand washing. I was taught to do all the scrubbing ( with a stiff brush!) as you described; but rinse with fingers pointed UP,
    so dirty water from the wrists didn’t run down and contaminate the fingers. Think of the surgeons in MASH , arms akimbo, hands up as they accept the towel from the scrub nurse.
    42 years of scrubbing made it an ingrained habit.
    Your writing of fingertips down must have been a slip.

    Please keep sending these lovely writings..


    1. Thanks, Carol. And thank you for the correction about rinsing when washing hands – it was a slip! I’ll fix it. Sending you healthy thoughts. Oh, and you can read all about my name change in Hiking Naked.

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