IS A PARK BETTER THAN A COAL MINE? What’s a mountain got that a slag pile hasn’t? What would you rather have in your garden - an almond tree or an oil well?

Those suitable-for-Earth Day 2009 (Wednesday, April 22) challenges were articulated by a character created by French diplomat and author Jean Giraudoux in the 1943 play The Madwoman of Chaillot.

The plot in a nutshell: In a sidewalk cafe? near the Champs Elysees, three corrupt businessmen scheme to manipulate the stock price of their unnamed startup corporation. The plot thickens when they meet an unscrupulous prospector hell-bent on digging up the streets of Paris to harvest the oil that he can “taste” in the local water. Countess Aurelia, the Madwoman of the title, is eccentric, extravagant, imperious, humane, living the truth of her own imagination. With the help of her streetwise friends she hatches a plot to defeat the forces of greed and liberate the world from their deadly influence.

There’s a late 1960s movie version of the play that displays the title card, “This is a story of the triumph of good over evil. Obviously it is a fantasy.”

Fast forward to Earth Day 2009: Obviously the theme still applies all too well to our current economic and environmental situation.

Now I’m not going to make the case for or against global climate change here. I’m not going to suggest any change-all-your-light-bulbs, drive-a-hybrid-fuel-vehicle strategies or try to even figure out how the trade in carbon offsets works (or doesn’t). Instead I pose a -

TGIM Challenge: Do you know about Edward W. Bok?

Not many folks know about Edward W. Bok. Yet his influence is still felt today. Let me give you a little background and then tie this to our theme.

Born in the Netherlands, Edward Bok was brought to America when he was 13. He grew up to become, among other things, the editor of the Ladies Home Journal from 1889 to 1919. During his tenure, he made it one of the leading magazines in America for women, introducing many of the features now common in women’s magazines.

Having achieved some wealth, he gave liberally to further peace, endowed the Woodrow Wilson professorship of literature at Princeton, and underwrote broadcasts of the Philadelphia Orchestra to schools. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiographical book, The Americanization of Edward Bok.

Now, what has Bok to do with this TGIM? Well, in essence he chose a park over a coal mine … an almond tree over an oil well … a mountain over a slag heap.

He is buried in a garden park he had constructed (landscaped with the aid of Frederick Law Olmstead, the leading influence in the design of New York’s Central Park) in Lake Wales, Florida, atop Iron Mountain, the highest point on the Florida peninsula.

Some five decades ago, long before Disney and the like built their Florida super park attractions, I was taken there as a child. I remember it well and recommend it to you. (It’s not-for-profit.) Adult admission is currently $10, a bargain for a Florida “theme park” I’d say.

I doubt you’ll have to wait in line. You’ll be entertained by the 57 tuned bronze carillon bells in the memorial Singing Tower and will enjoy the gardens.

What’s the TGIM point? The words of Bok’s grandmother that inspired all this and all his other charitable works are an Earth Day/Every Day theme worth noting and knowing and taking to heart:

Make you the world a bit better
or more beautiful
because you have lived in it.

Bok himself counseled: “A young person, to achieve, must first get out of his mind any notion either of the ease or rapidity of success. Nothing ever just happens in this world.”

Earth Day/TGIM Takeaway: Don’t wait to be inspired (or incited) by Al Gore. It’s your world as well as mine. You’re living in it. Want to do something special for Earth Day?

Make It Happen. That sentiment fits in nicely with TGIM #197’s EHFTB-FTWMIH message, I’d say. Make It Happen — Today … on Earth Day … Every day.

Author's Bio: 

Eric Taylor is the Chief Inspiration Officer of and founder of New Jersey based Empowerment Group International. He delivers more than 100 energized and interactive keynotes, workshops and seminars each year to corporations, associations and tradeshows. He is the author of the Energy Passport, Co-creator of the Best Year Ever! Success System and Co-author of The Complete Sales Training Encyclopedia. To get complete details about Eric’s background, his products and services, visit Eric Taylor’s Blog and review Eric Taylor’s Profile.