A call to civil disobedience

I may not get there with you, but a coalition of activists will gather at a coal plant near Capitol Hill on March 2 to carry the word that coal is dirty, unhealthful, and completely tied to the old, unsustainable way. 

I got word of the action from Bill McKibben, the author and activist, via Project Laundry List, of which he is an advisor. Here's what his missive said, in part:

Paul Eldrenkamp: "Not as hypocritical as I used to be"

Somewhat akin to love of one's children, I like everything I publish, but some posts are more equal than others, and this installment in my series of miniprofiles of sustainability-minded people is just terrific, I think. (Please note: I attribute this to the subject, not to me; this ain't braggin'.) To recap, the profiles are "mini" not only because they're short, but because all the questions are 10 words or less, and the answers are requested to match.

PAUL ELDRENKAMP, 51, Newton Owner, Byggmeister Inc., a residential remodeling contractor

Green epiphany: “About 6 years ago, when I realized that no one was keeping score in terms of household energy consumption.”

Green hero:Linda Wigington of Affordable Comfort (ACI). She initiated the North American Thousand Home Challenge (pdf available here), reaching out to people across the country to do deep energy retrofits and then to share the information we learn.”

A naturalist who doesn't love the outdoors

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In addition to my continued opening to the biomimicry movement, I'm presently reading "Naturalist," E.O. Wilson's autobiography — I was moved, in part, to pick it up recently because I knew that he would be closing the GreenBuild conference last month with Janine Benyus, the biologist who is credited with coining the term biomimicry and who, with Dayna Baumeister, founded the Biomimicry Guild.

Before they sat together, Wilson and Benyus each addressed the very large crowd separately, and she opened her remarks remembering the "microwilderness" behind her house in suburban New Jersey, and how she used to spend as much time as she could out there, observing and communing with the organisms who lived there. Very quickly, she conveyed her love for that place, and the sorrow and offense she felt when the bulldozers came to start phase two of her subdivision.

The story dovetailed (note bio allusion!) very neatly with the tales Wilson tells in his book at greater length, the substance of which he acknowledged when they came together on the stage couch. Both these people went out of doors and fell in lifelong love. I can't relate. I played out of doors too, climbing on rock faces and playing war in the brush in places that also have since fallen to the dozers' blades, but I somehow missed the forest for the trees. They were just there, and so were the animals — musta been. But they didn't capture me.

Sustainable design award

The Boston Society of Architects and and AIA New York Chapter are looking to honor examples of sustainable design — anything that provides "a basic level of comfort for all while repairing and protecting local and global ecosystems for future generations," according to the BSA. "'Designers' in this context includes anyone involved in the physical design of places or buildings, including architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers, and allied design professionals."

Soaking up solar information

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Of course it's the season for gatherings of friends and neighbors. But increasingly, 'tis also the season for solar power — and I'm speaking of "season" in the eon sense. Friday night, I joined about 30 other guests at a neighbor's home not to share holiday cheer but to learn details about home photovoltaic installations.

The best way to start is to begin

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People who know of my interest in sustainability sometimes ask where to start, and my answer has varied over time, dependent on what new action I've been exposed to.

Perhaps this states what's obvious to others, but I've only recently come to understand that the right answer is the first one, whatever that is. Whether one starts with here or there doesn't matter nearly as much as having started.


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