This Land Is Made For Me and You

By: Lauren Clapp

“This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York Island

From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters

This land was made for you and me.

 

As I was walking a ribbon of highway

I saw above me an endless skyway

I saw below me a golden valley

This land was made for you and me.

 

I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts

And all around me a voice was sounding

This land was made for you and me.

 

This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York Island

From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters

This land was made for you and me.”

-Woody Guthrie, 1940

 

This song was sung as part of worship this past Sunday at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist church in Arlington, Massachusetts- for me, a welcome change of pace from the more traditional hymns we’ve sung at various churches across the state of Massachusetts this summer. (“All God’s Children” in Wilmot is, of course, a noteworthy exception). I’ve probably heard this song sung a couple thousand times in my life thus far. I have multiple recordings of it in my iTunes library, from Bob Dylan softly crooning over a warpy harmonica to a much more lively version performed by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (you’ve never heard it like this before- check it out!)

Sure, I like this song. But I’ve never really felt any kind of connection to it, or, truth be told, listened too hard to the lyrics. Perhaps it was the quietness of being in church, perhaps it was the attentiveness of all other worshippers there that morning, or perhaps it was just something changed in me, but I paid close attention to the woman playing her guitar and singing with us, listening deeply to the message of this song. I was moved.

Sitting in church last Sunday, I reflected on what we’re doing this summer, why we’re doing what we’re doing and why its necessary. I can’t really think up a better song to sum up our journey. “This land was made for you and me”. I’ve been fortunate enough thus far in my life to be able to experience and appreciate our earth. I think that everyone deserves a healthy environment, and for me, this is why I need to fight against the climate crisis.  The earth is not just for me, after all, but for “you and me”. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s why I’m here.

Our team has since traveled from Arlington to Westport Point, about as far south in Massachusetts as you can go before reaching Rhode Island. Westport Point is without a doubt the most beautiful

Westport Point

community we have visited this summer. It is gorgeous here.  Being here, out of the urban-ness of the metro Boston area, is just what I needed. Riding past open fields and beaches and farms has been such a welcome change of pace from the hot black asphalt we’ve seen so much of this summer. When I walk outside of the Westport Point Methodist Church and continue along Main Road, trying to comprehend and soak up all the beauty around me, I think about Woodie Guthrie’s timeless song. I want everyone to be able to see the views I’ve been seeing. I want my children and my children’s children to be able to visit this coastal community and have it still be the way I see it today. Unless we act, now, this may not be the case. Our beautiful world belongs to you and me, and we all have a part to play to make sure it stays the way we want it.

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