Monday, April 19, 2010

Not all who wander are lost

As I become increasingly known in some circles as the “sustainability guy” I’ve had a number of people forward to me interesting articles. Recently, someone sent to me several lovely pieces on pollinators, and another on seeking quantifiable means to measure a manufacturer’s overall sustainability “index”. These are really germane concerns, and from the lowly honeybee to the global chemical manufacturer, span the complexity of the solutions we must generate.

I’ve been sticking with my effort to ride my bike to work, and barring rain, or other commitments (today I drove because at lunch I need to lug an ailing appliance to the repair shop=sustainability), have been very faithful to this practice. I feel better, and enjoy the breeze on my face in the mornings, and most of all it adds a peaceful time to my day. I arrive at work invigorated and less stressed.

Recently, however, (my ego smarting) my wife told me that my practice made me look like I’d“just had my third DWI, had lost my license and looked like an inebriate, derelict.” I mistakenly posted this to facebook (hoping for some spousal reckoning and validation), and remarkably (OK, not remarkably—I know the kinds of friends I have) many of my friends jumped on the bandwagon adding insult to injury with varied and scathing raspberries. Only one of such friends, commented encouragingly, and he remarked that in Albany how nearly 30% of his coworkers ride to work.

Joking aside, it made me reflect how important regional variations are in the success of sustainability practices. In other places there appears to be a more broad appreciation of the environment, with a more clearly galvanized core population of advocates. I have a hard time imagining how discourse around biking lanes would be received in the Oswego community (regional weather challenges aside), and how many takers there would really be. (But perhaps, “if we build it, they would come”…who knows?!).

Now, I don’t want to make more of my friends’ playful derision than is justified, but I think this minor example does speak to the nature of public education efforts around sustainability. If my wife (who really does “get it”) finds my riding a bike to work reminds her more of miscreants and violators of drunk driving laws than to create an mental image of a healthy and sustainabile lifestyle, than imagine how many challenges lie ahead as we try to transition to a more sustainable community. Can't wait to tell her about my plans for a composting toilet....

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