Our Earth Day Birthday

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

By Meg Walburn Viviano, CBM Editorial Director

This issue of CBM Bay Weekly is hot off the presses on Earth Day—April 22, a celebration of environmental awareness marked on this very day for the last 51 years. April 22, 2021, marks another occasion, too: it’s our 28th birthday! When Bay Weekly first joined the CBM family and I heard that the newspaper traditionally celebrates its birthday on Earth Day, I thought it was a charming nod to our Chesapeake region—a cute, rhyming “Earth Day-Birthday” concept.  

Truth be told, it’s more than a nice sentiment. It’s a perfect alignment of what Earth Day stands for— environmental protection, clean living, and a healthy, sustainable habitat for all—and what’s important to all of you in Chesapeake Country. 

In our little section of the mid-Chesapeake Bay, every city, town and community is part of the Bay watershed. Streams wind through patches of woods, under highways, and behind strip malls. Marshes line the edges of busy roads. Lakes back up to industrial sites. Every day, whether or not we are conscious of it, we pass by (and over) critically important links to the Chesapeake Bay. 

Our lives are intertwined with this remarkable estuary we’ve all chosen to live near, and that means we’d better take an interest in its health. To prove the point, you need only to flip through the news pages of this issue. In south Anne Arundel County, do-gooders are performing hard manual labor to clean up old oyster shells, supporting the oyster restoration efforts that improve water quality. In Pasadena, dedicated river stewards are relentlessly fighting industrial runoff until violators are held accountable—in this case, that comes in the form of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. And across the state of Maryland, wildlife advocates fought for a ban on intentional outdoor balloon releases, and won! 

If these stories in our Bay Bulletin news section inspire you to take a little action of your own, managing editor Kathy Knotts tells you exactly how to get started this Earth Day (or any day, for that matter) in our feature story. Making a positive impact can be as modest as showing up for a group cleanup in your community. Even initiating your own cleanup is easier than you think. There are organizations just waiting to help you get started, with supplies at the ready. 

When Earth Day came along in 1970, Bay Weekly was not yet a glimmer in the eye of its future founders, Sandra Olivetti Martin, Bill Lambrecht, and Alex Knoll. But 23 years later, it started in earnest (known then as New Bay Times) with a mission of opening peoples’ eyes to the problems of the Chesapeake Bay, and what people were doing to solve them.  

Shifting forward from that first issue in 1993 to today, I’m proud to say that even under new ownership, Bay environmental awareness is still a big part of CBM Bay Weekly’s mission. Drawing from CBM’s broad regional coverage of the Chesapeake watershed (from the Susquehanna to Hampton Roads), we’re able to zero in on the stories that matter most to communities here in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. 

Sustaining a newspaper that keeps the Chesapeake Bay’s health front and center for 28 years is certainly cause for a birthday celebration. But since celebrations have to be kept small (or worse, virtual) these days, we’ll settle for an Earth Day-birthday. Now show your planet (and your favorite local weekly paper) some love, and read on!