Celebrating Earth Day

Madam Speaker, the Los Angeles basin holds one of the greatest concentrations of humanity in the world. People have come from all over the Earth to live there--when one walks down a street in Glendale or Alhambra one can hear a language from ten thousand miles away on one block and read signs in a vastly different language on the next. But if you look up a little higher, above the signs and above the buildings, you'll see gray-green mountains looking down on it all. In my district, we're right up against the Verdugo, Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, and they surprise you all the time, appearing at street corners from behind the buildings, playing hide-and-seek with intervening hills and highways.

Though few of my constituents live up there, I try to get up into the hills as often as I can, and I'm often surprised by how many of my neighbors I run into on the trail. I think that, like me, they wander in the chaparral and oak forests to get away for a while, and find some perspective in the process. Among the families, teenagers and retirees I pass, I see all of the cultures I know from the streets of my district, all enjoying the fact that they can find some peace and quiet just a few minutes away from one of the largest cities in the world.

Our green spaces play an irreplaceable role in our communities, and on this Earth Day, I would like to celebrate them. This is a day to think globally, but it is also a day to act locally, by taking your family to the park and exploring all that you find there. In the words of John Muir, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."