Monthly Message from the Secretary

​​April 2024

Image: Earth Day Message from the Secretary

I still remember the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. I was attending a rural public school in the A​​dirondack region of New York State. While celebrating Earth Day appeared to be a fun thing to do for a sixth grader, it was unclear as to why everyday was not Earth Day? Growing up somewhat isolated from society and yet immersed in nature and beauty of surroundin​​g forest, mountains, and lakes, I had no idea that people needed to be reminded to protect the environment.

Then I learned about my female hero Rachel Carson, who taught us the impacts of toxins being used by corporations and the government without consideration of the human health and ecological impacts. This led me to major in env​​ironmental science to learn more about the science and later seek a master’s in urban and regional planning to determine how we could plan and​​ build better to do no harm to the environment, while also generating prosperity for all. Thus, my career has been dedicated to advancing sustainable growth practices that is now my focus at the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP).

Planet Earth is our shared home, it is a closed loop system that can’t sustain ecological or human systems at the pace by which we are polluting (and extracting) water, air, and ground supplies. We are no longer living in synergistic balance; humans tak​​e more than they give back and we have created a global deficit. It’s not good enough to slow down, or assume technology will ​​save the day, we must also regenerate damaged systems to regain balance. So, I encourage everyone to live everyday as though it were Earth Day. Practice what we preach, do what works best for you and your areas of influence to make a net positive difference and help heal Mother Earth, who has given so much to the advancement of our culture and society.

Rebecca L. Flora, ​AICP, Secretary
Maryland Department of Planning​

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