The following proposal was submitted to Peter Tamaris on October 3, 1969. He
headed the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and had requested John McConnell,
the originator of the idea, to write this proposal. The name "Earth Day" was not used
before this by anyone who has come forward with documented evidence.
The Board of Supervisors proceeded with approval and Mayor George Christopher
issued the proclamation which inaugurated the first Earth Day. A few other cities
in Northern California did the same.
PROPOSED EARTH DAY RESOLUTION
As Earthians we need a day to celebrate our global unity and
The observance of EARTH DAY will alert concern and interest for
our planet -- with its precious treasure of living things, and
EARTH DAY is to remind each person of his right, and the equal
right of every other person, to the use of this global home and
at the same time the equal responsibility of each person to
preserve and improve the Earth and the quality of life thereon,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED;
That in the City and County of San Francisco March 21st (Vernal
Equinox) be the designated EARTH DAY - a special day to remember
Earth's tender seedlings of life and people; a day for planting
trees and grass and flowers, for cleaning streams and wooded
glens. That to further these purposes a Silent Hour For Peace (a
time for quiet reflection or prayer) be observed on Earth Day at
19:00 G.M.T. (11:00 a.m. P.S.T.). That on EARTH DAY the EARTH
FLAG, which portrays in its center our "Beautiful Blue Planet;"
be flown to encourage mutual respect for Earth and all its
Earth Day History, 1970
March 21st -- Vernal Equinox
Earth Day - a day to celebrate the natural wonders of our
planet, "to think about Earth's tender seedlings of life" was
first proposed by John McConnell in early October 1969 to a few
members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and other
community leaders especially interested in caring for and
improving our natural environment. On November 25, 1969,
the final day of the UNESCO National Conference, "Man, and His
Environment," Cynthia Wayburn, one of the youth leaders on
Mr. McConnell's Earth Day Committee, presented the idea and
showed the Earth Flag during this presentation at the luncheon.
Many expressed support for the idea.
DATE OF EARTH DAY
From the beginning the proposal called for observance of
Earth Day on March 21st, which is the Vernal Equinox. This is
the moment when night and day are equal throughout the Earth --
reminding us of Earth's beautiful systems of balance which
humanity has partially upset and must restore. From Humanity's
earliest history people of many cultures have celebrated this day
as the beginning of spring - symbolizing renewal of life. Three
thousand years ago men built Stonehenge with stones arranged to
measure the very moment of the Vernal Equinox. This day and its
meanings touch humanity's deepest roots of being.
KCBS TV observed a special EARTH HOUR, YEAR ONE, on
Earth Day at 1900 U.T. (11:00 am PST). In this special hour there
were views of Earth's wonders of life and resources - the
balance of nature.
DAVIS: The Experimental College, University of California at
Davis, issued a release on January 24th describing their plans
which were carried out on Earth Day, March 21. This event
included a Global Village with three streets of booths and displays;
the streets of Mysteries, Avenue of Spring, and Street of Crafts.
HISTORY OF EARTH DAY, EARTH WEEK AND
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
The first celebration called EARTH DAY was initiated by the
Mayor and city of San Francisco at the request of John McConnell,
president of WE, Inc. (now Earth Society). Planning from October
1969 resulted in observance of EARTH DAY on March 21, 1970, the
day of the vernal equinox (also the first day of spring in the
northern hemisphere). EARTH DAY was intended as a yearly event,
to become global.
In January 1970, the Environmental Teach-In, who were
planning a one-time event for April 22, also decided to call
their event EARTH DAY. This nationwide event attracted great
attention and complemented the earlier West Coast observance.
In 1971 Senator Gaylord Nelson announced an Earth WEEK --
for the third week of April -- as a yearly event.
In 1972 at the Stockholm Conference, Japan obtained support
for a resolution calling for WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY to be observed
on June 5, the day the Stockholm Conference began. This happened
without consideration or discussion of an Equinox EARTH DAY.
Secretary General U Thant proclaimed EARTH DAY and spoke in
its behalf at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations on
March 21, 1971. Secretary General Waldheim observed EARTH DAY
with similar ceremonies in 1972. The United Nations EARTH DAY
ceremony continued each year on the day of the March equinox
(20th or 21st), with the ringing of the U.N. Peace Bell at the very
moment of the equinox. In 1975 the U.S. Congress and President Ford
proclaimed and urged observance of Earth Day on the March equinox.
We believe that in taking our cue from nature and using the
equinox, a billion year symbol of unity and balance, we can
eventually obtain a world community event uniting us in a common
concern for our Earth home. The question then is whether a
united effort on this yearly event will obtain more impact on
thinking and action than the present divided efforts; that other
environmental events should be given other names and
complement, rather than compete with the efforts for a great
global unity of mind and purpose on EARTH DAY.
EARTH TRUSTEES -- The new idea that Earth Day provided.
Our beautiful planet Earth, filled with pain and suffering,
capable of life, beauty and love, is being destroyed by
ignorance, greed and waste.
The nurture and renewal of Earth is our most urgent task. To
this end we, individually and with the help of others, seek in
our jobs, buying habits, travel, land use and other actions -- at
home, work and play -- to respect and protect Earth's amazing web
of life, its soil, water, air, plants and living creatures, to
act as trustees of our portion of our planet.
We believe every individual and family should have an
opportunity for a stake in this planet, for a home, education and
meaningful work; that in their personal Earth-stake, or area of
responsibility, they should act, not as spoilers of Earth, but as
We invite you to register as an Earth Trustee, to seek with
us ways of living that will not hurt the Earth, but instead
protect and nurture its beauty and bounty.
To help Planet Earth go to: Planet Earth and register
as an Earth Trustee. There is no charge to do so, but you can
help us do what we are doing by ordering an Earth Flag To do
so call 1/800-421-FLAG.
Spread the word to others. The more Earth Trustees there
are the more we can trust the future and each other. When enough
people care for the Earth and trust each other we will have a
healthy peaceful planet.
John McConnell, founder of Earth Day