In April 1970, recent college graduate Marchant Wentworth, now deputy legislative director for the Union of Concerned Scientists‘ climate and energy program, was hard at work at the Earth Day Headquarters on P Street in Washington, D.C.
“It was a pretty wild time,” Wentworth says of the 1970s environmental movement. “When I was at the Earth Day Headquarters, we were getting six to eight sacks of unsolicited mail a day from people all over the country, wanting to do something and wanting to be a part of something. It was pretty exciting stuff.”
Meanwhile, Martin Jennings, a 17-year-old high school senior from St. Petersburg, Fla., was volunteering to clean up local waterways and hanging posters proclaiming, “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.”
Now senior director of national accounts for MVP Publications, Jennings recalls the youthful zeal and passion he and other fledgling greenies felt in the weeks leading up to the first Earth Day, calling the event “amazing” and “incredible.”
“You have to understand what was going on – the pure, unadulterated passion that those of us my age felt [before the first Earth Day],” Jennings remembers. “We were incredibly passionate about everything we did. We thought that we could make a difference, and we acted accordingly.”
Earth911 sat down with Wentworth and Jennings to chat about grassroots activism, lovin’ Mother Earth and what it feels like to be a piece of environmental history.