Thursday, April 17, 2014

Come Join Our Cleanup!

April 22 is Lenin’s Birthday—how about a
Subbotnik? (Субботник)
How about April 26????

      V.I. Lenin (1870-1924) 

Sunday, April 22, is Lenin's Birthday.  He'd be 144.   It is also Earth Day, and it is not a coincidence.  It's regrettable that the Communists of the world seem to think that they are champions of preservation of the earth, because in the USSR they were very sloppy stewards. However, every year, even today, long after the USSR is gone, Russians observe his birthday with volunteer clean-up events.


Lenin's Subbotnik, cleaning up the Kremlin grounds, 1920

            The Soviets celebrated Lenin's Birthday with Subbotniks all over the country.  A Subbotnik is usually on a Saturday (Subbota, in Russian) and it's a day when good Soviet citizens are expected to get out and clean up a park or a neighborhood, and they offer their labor for free.
             We lived in the Soviet Union when Leonid Brezhnev was General Secretary.  It was 1981 when we arrived, and 1983 when we left.  The Soviet Union at that time was seedy and threadbare, from Riga to Khabarovsk, across 11 time zones.   It was a country nearly on life support, struggling to fight a war in Afghanistan.
            Yet, seedy or not, we all knew that the USSR had a vast array of nuclear weapons, and they could blow us to kingdom come.

            It must have been a subtle thing when, I understand, a group at Stanford University started Earth Day, and set the day for April 22.  In the USSR the big Subbotnik fell on the Saturday nearest to Lenin’s Birthday. 

            We celebrate Earth Day in Rockport this year on Saturday, April 26.  I have a healthy lack of respect for communism and all its trappings, but this time of year does seem like a good time for us to get together and do some cleanup in our Millbrook Meadow here in Rockport. 
            Our winter seemed particularly long, cold, with enough snow. Here we appreciate spring far more than people in more temperate climates.  And it can really feel good to whack and cut tree branches and vines that had all grown together to practically dam up the little brook that runs through our Meadow. 
           Please join us, from 10 a.m. to noontime on Saturday, April 26 to help clean up your Meadow!

 Millbrook Meadow Earth Day Cleanup, April 2012:  Shown here are, left to right, Charmaine and Riley Blanchard , Allen Stanish, Beverly Robbins, Maura Wadlinger and Gaynelle Weiss.

[An earlier version of this material was posted April 21, 2012.]

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