It’s easy to feel paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended our way of life and threatened the health and safety of our communities. It serves as a powerful reminder of what can happen when our government officials fail to listen to top experts and scientists.

With the 50th celebration of Earth Day recently, I have been thinking about the ways people have adapted as we work to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic and whether they might help minimize our ecological footprint, longer term.

On an individual level, I’ve been inspired to see individuals adapt and use this time to rethink how we live our regular routines and form new habits — from growing seedlings for 21st century “victory garden” plots, to telecommuting from home, avoiding non-essential air travel, and becoming more conscious of our personal consumption (particularly around food waste).

I also appreciate how so many organizations have adopted digital gatherings, webinars and virtual town halls, making discussions more accessible to those in rural communities, those with mobility issues, and other citizens who might not otherwise be able to participate.

As an organizer with NextGen Maine in Lewiston, I talk every day to young people who have been motivated by this crisis to get involved in politics for the first time. Now, more than ever, is the time to join in the conversation, to listen to top experts and scientists and work to not only flatten the curve, but continue to help create a more sustainable world.

Elise Shulman-Reed, Lewiston

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