"...a beautification in my mind is far more than a matter of cosmetics. To me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the manmade world to harmony. To bring order, usefulness, delight to our whole environment. And that of course only begins with trees and flowers and landscaping."
These are Lady Bird Johnson’s words and from these words one can tell she was well ahead of her time. She had a passion for native flora and conservation before it was the hip thing to do. Given the plethora of rich and amazing Texas wildlife, it is easy to imagine how this passion spread to others. These days you can drive along many a Texas highway and see the result of her life's work. It was probably appropriate that she went to the University of Texas at Austin, since this city also tends to be on the cutting edge when it comes to beautification. We boast Lady Bird Lake Trail, a non-paved trail in the heart of town, Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring as the go-to local watering hole, and the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an expansive piece of land used for outdoor recreation.
Despite this city's rapid growth, especially over the last decade, it has managed to maintain a vision of being harmonious with the environment. The most recent commitment being a bag ban to reduce the unnecessary waste associated with single use plastic bags. Meanwhile, the City of Austin Departments continues to work toward a goal of operations being carbon neutral by 2020. I believe that the former First Lady and Austinite would be proud and continue to call this place her home.
As individuals and families we can be part of harmonizing the man-made and natural worlds by thinking about how we live our daily lives, through choices we make and ideals we impart on the next generation. I can think of no better time than this coming week, as Earth Day is April 22nd, to be inspired and get involved.
You can start by attending Austin Public Library’s program, Rebate Austin!, where attendees will learn ways to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. Continue your quest by exploring some websites dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, and to beautification here in Texas and Austin. By the end of the week you will be ready for some outdoor Earth Day festivities.