United Nations Day will be celebrated on Saturday, and some Venturans think it's the right occasion to talk about cleaning up the earth's environment.
What does the U.N. have to do with the environment?
Potentially plenty. In fact, some people want to make environmental concerns the U.N.'s next act.
A branch of the U.N. has organized the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly called the Earth Summit. World leaders are to convene in Brazil next June. They haven't met for this purpose since 1972.
The Ventura County chapter of the United Nations Assn., a politically diverse citizens group, is joining in a nationwide effort to make sure that the United States has a high profile at this summit.
Warren Faue, a mechanical engineer and president of the Ventura group, gave me a dose of his no-nonsense approach to U.S.-U.N relations. "For years I have felt that the U.N. was probably the answer to world cooperation and that the U.S. should play a role and not vacate the stage to either the Soviets or angry Third World nations."
An Earth Summit event Saturday, billed as a "No Trash Bash" picnic, will involve such groups as the Lions and Rotary clubs, the disarmament activist group Beyond War, the Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club and the Soroptimists.
The featured speaker will be Dr. Gary Herbertson, a U.S. director of the Earth Summit Support project, conducted by the United Nations Assn. in this country. His theme--and his job--is to build "awareness" of the event.
That's a polite term for putting public pressure on the folks in Washington to get out and lead the world environmental effort, not just say it "needs more study." One hopes that will not be their response to Tuesday's announcement from the United Nations that the "ozone hole" is dousing North America with 10 times the cancer-causing rays that we thought we were getting.
Faue reminded me that America invented the environmental impact report--known to every real estate developer and neighborhood association as the EIR--a device that gives any citizen the right to question the health and environmental aspect of corporate or government activities.
"That's an American innovation," Faue said. "The world should have that."
Faue is not a one-man band, by the way. Another stalwart of the Ventura U.N. group is Dr. Yvonne Gallegos Bodle, whom Gov. Pete Wilson recently appointed to the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges.
For four year, she has been leading groups of Venturans on study trips to the rain forest of Central America. It is a part of the Ventura College community service program, and there's just enough time to sign up for the next rain forest trip in December.
Bodle is also a U.N. spokeswomanin her own right, as a U.S. appointee to the U.N. industrial development program. She serves with the likes of Andrew Young and the chairman of General Foods, promoting U.S. investments in Third World economies.
With all this name-dropping going on, I can't resist telling you about a project that media baron Ted Turner launched last week to raise the profile of the Earth Summit.
Turner Publishing Inc. has produced "Save the Earth" by Jonathon Porritt. The book promotes the forthcoming Earth Summit with the same energy that Turner uses to promote the Atlanta Braves.
Royalties from the book will be donated to Friends of the Earth, an international ecology group. Ted has also coaxed a foreword from Britain's Prince Charles and an introduction from Robert Redford.
Prince Charles writes, "I do believe our headlong rush for so-called progress has meant that we have ignored some of the humbling lessons that our ancestors learned over thousands of years."
So on Saturday, United Nations Day, stroll over to Ventura College and join some folks who are trying to help us all keep our heads above water.
United Nations Day-Celebrating Earth Summit, Saturday, noon to 3 p.m., Ventura College Open Stage. "No Trash Bash"--bring your own lunch and a dessert to share, using "no trash" reusable containers. Entertainment. Free admission.
Recommended reading: "Save the Earth" including special information packet on the Earth Summit and environmental activism, Turner Publications Inc., $29.95 at local bookstores.
Rain forest expedition: Ventura College Community Service Program in Costa Rica, Dec. 26 to Jan. 4. For information, call Dr. Bodle at 649-2552 or V.C.C. at 645-6459.