by Steve Bivans
On April 22, 1970, people around the World celebrated the first ever Earth Day, the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson.
In the 44 years since its inception, it has grown to an international movement, supported by over 5000 organizations, in 184 countries. The movement has spawned countless environmental changes, laws and other non-governmental agencies, and continues to do so.
The First ‘Middle’ Earth Day, scheduled for October 18, 2014, is a continuation of that inspiration, and will strive to further the work of The Earth Day Network, by becoming PART of that larger movement.
Why ‘Middle’ Earth?
We, the members of the Middle Earth Day movement—fans of the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the movies based on the books—consider ourselves to be modern hobbits (some are more akin to wizards, warriors and elves). No, that doesn’t mean we ‘geek’ up and run around in costumes every weekend—ok, some of us probably do—but that’s not what we mean by being modern hobbits. What it means is that we view the world in much the way that J.R.R. Tolkien did: with respect and awe for Nature, and our place within it.
While we hobbits love the traditional Earth Day, and will continue to celebrate it, some of us think that one day, or even the entire month of April, just isn’t enough to bring attention to work that many people are doing to clean up our Earth. There are also some issues that are not part of the focus of the traditional Earth Day, which we think are just as important, if not more so, to accomplish the mission of saving the Earth.
On August 10, 2014, Tim Bivans, remembered an idea that had crossed his mind months before. The idea was to hold another ‘Earth Day’, but exactly 6 months after the previous, and before the next, (on the 3rd Saturday of October), and calling it ‘Middle’ Earth Day, in celebration of the hobbits’ love for all things green, and for their sense of community, or Shire-ness. So Middle Earth Day was born, and so shall it be. We hope that you will join the movement too!
The ‘Middle’ Earth-ian World View
We modern hobbits view the world we live in through the lens of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Both Middle Earth, and our Earth face destruction at the hands of dark forces, Sauron and his One Ring on one hand, and the forces of corporate greed, materialism, and violence on the other. In both cases, civilization faces overwhelming odds.
These modern dark forces are the result of a destructive ‘Ring’, much like Sauron’s. The modern Ring isn’t physical of course, though one might argue that it is magical. No, our Ring is a cultural myth that pervades almost all civilized nations on Earth. Quite simply the Ring is the mindset that the Earth is OUR RESOURCE, to use as we will, with little regard to the costs and damage we inflict upon the environment, and on the human community at large.
Nature is not ours to rule. That is an ancient myth birthed in the misty dawn of civilization; it is patently false, and is at the root of all our problems as a species. We must abandon this Ring and work to undo the damage we’ve done to our Earth. We need to return to harmony with Nature and with each other, to become what humans were destined to be, builders of gardens and Shires, hobbits (if you will), not Masters over creatures great and small.
The Mission of Middle Earth Day
The mission of every modern hobbit, and of Middle Earth Day, is to Be a Hobbit, and Save the Earth.
Our motto is to ‘Bring Shire-ness to the Earth, and Spring again to the Trees.’
This mission comes directly from a speech by the late, great professor Tolkien himself:
“I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron; but I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentle hobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.”
We define Shire-ness as a sustainable, free, and open, ‘hobbit-like’ way of living, rooted in Nature, cooperating as a community, with humanity, hospitality, and humor. (For more on this, see Bringing Shire-ness to the World: What the Hell Does That Mean?
Middle Earth Day hopes to further the efforts of the original Earth Day towards cleaning up our planet and finding creative solutions to the environmental issues facing us today. The difference—other than the October date—is that the focus of ‘Middle’ Earth Day is on building communities, or Shires, who then in turn, help to solve the Earth’s problems. Many times, both things are accomplished simultaneously; by working together to tackle an issue, we build community, and solve the issue.
One of the biggest problems facing the world today—if it isn’t THE biggest issue—is the loss of a sense of community. We have become too insulated by our technology, our work, our responsibilities, and by the fear of connecting with our neighbors, at the local, national, and international level. It is the goal of ‘Middle’ Earth Day, and of all modern hobbits, to rebuild our communities, to grow them into Shires. That doesn’t mean, however, that we must all abandon our homes to build hobbit-holes—as attractive as that might sound. Instead, we aim to turn our existing homes and neighborhoods into metaphorical hobbit holes and Shires. We will clean up the clutter of modern life, the poisons in our homes, our food, our gardens and yards, our parks and cities, and reach out to everyone in our communities to lift them up and give them a sense of belonging, and a chance to join in the larger mission of rebuilding the Shire, after the ravages of so many Sarumans.
Sign Me Up: How Do You Join?
All that is required to become a hobbit and begin saving the Earth, is to ‘like’ and follow the ‘Middle’ Earth Day Facebook group page. That’s it. We hope you will also subscribe to the emailing list on the left side of the page, so we can send you important information about this first ever Middle Earth Day!
How Do We Celebrate Middle Earth Day?
That is entirely up to YOU, modern hobbit! Just keep in mind the mission and motto above when planning your event. Basically, any event that brings people together, especially people you barely know, or don’t know well enough, and does something to help clean up your Shire, or to reach out to help those in your Shire who are less fortunate, counts! Be creative! Some major issues facing the Earth are: poverty, violence/crime, disenfranchisement, greed, corruption, inequality, as well as environmental issues: climate, pollution, deforestation, GMO food, food deserts, etc. Whatever you do, we suggest that you make sure there is a social, food element to the event, so that you can spend time actually talking with your neighbors and fellow hobbits. Plus, hobbits love food and drink. Call it Sixth Supper, or something.
The idea is for all participants—wherever they are—to either join everyone else on Google+ Hangout, LIVE, while their event is going on, or to video record it (if it happens on a different day/night/time) and share it with the Middle Earth Day group! We want to see what you come up with! It might inspire hobbits around the world to do something similar, or give them an entirely new idea!
Here are some ideas to get the hobbit mental juices flowing:
- Hobbit Walks: Hobbits love to walk. Step out of your door, and see where it sweeps you off to! Throw a party, with Middle Earth costumes, and before the feast, everyone meet and walk around the neighborhood and pick up trash (make sure to recycle appropriate stuff). Or, walk for a local charity! Pick one and raise money by walking!
- Hobbit Party Tree Feast: Throw a big hobbit feast, sell tickets, or take donations from the attendees and donate that to a local charity. You could collect organic/non-GMO canned goods, or money.
- Dwarfish Builders: get a group of modern hobbits, or dwarfs (who love to build stuff), and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity! Make it fun. Bring food and drink for afterwards.
- Gamgee Gardeners: Start a local community/Shire garden! Or clean up or build something new in an existing one! Or plant fruit trees in a local park, or empty lot (with permission preferably). Or plant vegetable gardens along your boulevard! Use your imagination. You can do it.
The possibilities are literally endless. If you have any questions, please feel free to send a message to Steve Bivans.
Who WE Are?
Is a the author of Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, a Viking scholar by training (working on a PhD.), a former special education assistant by accident and necessity, a BBQ expert, the best cook he knows (he makes slammin’ maple-bourbon pork chops), a freelance blog writer, and a hobbit at heart-though He looks more like Eomer and is grumpier than Gollum, at least before 2nd Breakfast.
When he’s not dreaming of building his own hobbit hole, or traveling the Earth, he’s researching Viking warfare, writing Be a Hobbit (instead of my dissertation, sorry Mrs. Bivans), cooking, reading, or eating. Always eating. You can read more of his writing on his blog at www.stevebivans.com.
Is an instructor of Simulation and Game Development in Greenville, NC, the Founder and CEO of Enlītānment Studios, LLC (an indie video game company), a musician of some reknown, and a modern hobbit, though he’s really too freakin’ tall to be one. If he didn’t really love beer and grilled meat, he’d have to move to Gondor or something.
Both Tim and Steve are the sons of Salvation Army Officers, and as such, grew up mindful of the plight of the less fortunate in society. They both spent many Christmas seasons ringing bells in front of department stores in the South, raising funds to feed, clothe, and house those in need, as well as bring Christmas cheer to to many children. Steve’s book, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth, is his attempt to apply many of the lessons he learned growing up in a household that valued ‘giving back.’ Tim’s company, Enlītānment Studios, LLC, aims to create engaging games that also teach. You can find more information on Tim’s company on Facebook.