by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
For over forty years the Peace Bell at the United Nations has been rung at the precise moment of the Vernal Equinox, calling attention the balance between the Earth's two hemispheres as the world balances between winter and summer, North and South. This year, bells will ring out around the world for the Southern Hemisphere, too.
The woman who has coordinated these events since 1971 is Helen Bryan Carlson Reurs Garland.
Most people have never heard of her, but many have participated in, or admired, the outcome of her work on a multitude of issues. The Earth Society, which Helen now heads as CEO, is committed to Peace, Justice, and Care of the Earth.
Committed to action, Helen rarely thought about receiving credit for a life filled with the kind of work which connected people to each other and made things happen for peace, justice and the environment. She began this work at the United Nations shortly after it was founded.
Most of what you hear about the United Nations focuses on governments. Helen's work is with ordinary people and Non-Government Organizations. Through her work people can learn who they can work with to solve problems, common to many.
Helen was instrumental in creating a global dialogs on such issues on local commercial fishing. Fisherpeople from all over the world have been able to confront the take over of their traditional fishing grounds by massive corporate vessels which strip the oceans down to the seafloor, because oe Helen's work.
Helen began working for peace soon after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in 1947. Her generation included soldiers returning from WWII with whom she had grown up. Many of those she knew and dated went to Yale.
Helen did not realize until many years later she had been living cheek and jowl with the very people who brought the CIA into existence. She read about this years later, in the NY Times, stunned.
Activists such as Margaret Mead learned about Environmentalism from Helen. Buckminster Fuller and U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, were close personal friends. And Pete Seeger held a concert during her birthday cruise on the Hudson River every year from 1968 until he died.
Ring a bell for the Southern Equinox, September 22, 2014 at 10:29 PM EDT. The Earth needs our attention today as never before.