EARTH DAY – the most successful environmental idea ever – sounds like it was scripted right out of Hollywood = A mild-mannered guy from Clear Lake, Wisconsin (Seriously…Clear Lake?) goes to Washington DC and changes the world!
Earth Day was the brainchild of US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Clear Lake, Wisconsin. Back in the Day, Gaylord had an idea to create a day that brought awareness to the earth and the environment. “It was the most successful environmental idea I ever had,” he proudly said.
According to EarthDay.org, a billion people now participate in Earth Day making it the largest civic observance in the world.
At first, though, The Hollywood Script read like a tragedy – starting with Nelson’s insistence on calling his big idea an “Environmental Teach-In.” He wanted to teach people about earthly stuff, but his staff wanted a much more activist dialogue. (Remember: This was The ’60s.) “Environmental Teach-Ins will be a serious turn-off to people who want to protest and change things right NOW – NOT debate them,” his staff insisted. To add insult to injury the staff also told Nelson: “And that stupid name is boring.”
The wheels started coming off the “most successful idea ever” until an Adman and Public Relations Professional rode to the rescue: Julian Koenig was on Nelson’s Earth Day Team, and took it upon himself to brand it and build it into something bigger than anyone imagined. “Good Lord Gaylord,” Koenig told the boss. “Environmental Teach-In is SO boring… NO one will mobilize for that!”
After rolling around a bunch of ideas, Koenig got stuck on the phrase: EARTH DAY.
“Not only is it on my birthday,” he told Senator Nelson, “it rhymes, too. And I just can’t get it out of my head.” Earth Day was born…
And the rest, as they say, is history.