Henry David Thoreau, "Walking", an essay published after his death in 1862
The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends its fibers forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind. . . .
Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back -- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, that is the only
thing that ever has."
Nobody knows where it came from, but the following site has a lot to say about it and about Margaret Mead for those interested in further study. Institute of Intercultural Studies
William McDonough & Michael Braungart, from back cover of thebook, "Cradle to Cradle"
"Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask. In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are). Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.
George Perkins Marsh is considered to be America's first environmentalist. Over a hundred years ago he warned of our destructive ways in a remarkable book, published in 1864, called: "Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action". He was the first to raise concerns about the destructive impact of human activities on the environment. The passage below is from his 1874 revision of his master work: "THE EARTH AS MODIFIED BY HUMAN ACTION. A NEW EDITION OF MAN AND NATURE".
"But for the intervention of man and domestic animals, these latter beneficent revolutions would occur more frequently, proceed more rapidly. The new scarped mountains, the hillocks of debris, the plains elevated by sand and gravel spread over them, the shores freshly formed by fluviatile deposits, would clothe themselves with shrubs and trees, the intensity of the causes of degradation would be diminished, and nature would thus regain her ancient equilibrium. But these processes, under ordinary circumstances, demand, not years, generations, but centuries; [Footnote: Where a torrent has not been long in operation, and earth still remains mixed with the rocks and gravel it heaps up at its point of eruption, vegetation soon starts up and prospers, it protected from encroachment. In Provence, "several communes determined, about ten years ago, to reserve the soils thus wasted, that is, to abandon them for a certain time, to spontaneous vegetation, which was not slow in making its appearance."-Becquerel, Des Climats, p. 815.] and man, who even now finds scarce breathing-room on this vast globe, cannot retire from the Old World to some yet undiscovered continent, and wait for the slow action of such causes to replace, by a new creation, the Eden he has wasted."
THE TABLES TURNED AN EVENING SCENE ON THE SAME SUBJECT, by William Wordsworth, 1798.
" UP! up! my Friend, and quit your books; Or surely you'll grow double: Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks; Why all this toil and trouble? The sun, above the mountain's head, A freshening lustre mellow Through all the long green fields has spread, His first sweet evening yellow. Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife: Come, hear the woodland linnet, 10 How sweet his music! on my life, There's more of wisdom in it. And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! He, too, is no mean preacher: Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher. She has a world of ready wealth, Our minds and hearts to bless-- Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness. One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can. Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:-- We murder to dissect. Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives."