Inauguration Eve in DC – Showing my tag which reads:
“Black Is The New Green!”
2009 is off to a roller coaster start.
For me, and millions of Americans, it kicked off January 20th in Washington
on a cold but clear D.C. day.
Flying into the nation's capitol for 26
hours of witnessing history, and attending Al Gore's Green Ball (see photo of "New Arrival"
poster at the National Portrait Gallery), was an absolute thrill.
But the high, and the honeymoon, did
not last long as we've dipped deeper into financial gloom. The malls
are quiet, foreclosure and bankruptcy lawyers are busy, and the banks
suddenly need our help (and I thought all those bounced check fees were
So just when we finally get a President who never misses
an opportunity to talk about renewable energy, who has broken color
barriers, and who gets "green", we're all struggling to stay
out of the red! But the green lining in the black cloud is the swift
shift into downwardly mobile gear.
Simplifying, saving, and a
back-to-basics approach that would have seemed unthinkable even a year
ago, is the new Zeitgeist. For the first time in America, bigger is
not better and shopping as a national pastime is at least for now, a
thing of the past.
This is the type of tipping point that’s
hard to imagine, and harder to predict. The confluence of events
shifting global financial markets, altering the energy landscape and
changing personal habits, seemingly overnight, is rapid and rough enough
to make Malcolm Gladwell’s head spin!
So what do we now? Hold our breath?
Wait for the other shoe to drop?
Well, at least we’re not being told
to just go shopping, although the closing of wallets is part of the
problem…and part of the solution.
Construction is down and home sales
are declining meaning far fewer Americans are buying new furniture,
window treatments and appliances. Even renovation projects have been
put on hold faster than customer service can say “just a moment”.
Challenging and painful as the economic
downturn is to millions of Americans, the flip side of that coin is
less stuff is being consumed, constructed and commissioned and that’s
easier on our environment.
It’s too bad that it takes something
like this perfect storm of events to
get us, cold turkey, off our addiction
to shopping, schlepping and spending. But since it has,
let’s look at the bright side.
Our appetites for bingeing are at least
temporarily curbed and our tendencies to overeat, drink and spend are
tempered by the sobering reality that this is not just a momentary blip.
The financial gurus tell us we’re in for a spell of economic
turbulence that may be long enough to make us stop, look in the mirror,
think and hopefully, make a mid-course correction in the American Dream
of bigger, better, badder, and at any cost.
As James Kunstler wrote in a recent
article entitled “Poverty Of Imagination":
“Peak energy has combined with the diminishing returns of over-investments
in complexity to pull the “kill switch” on our vaunted “way of
life” – the set of arrangements that we won't apologize for or negotiate.
So, the big question before the nation is: do we try to restart the
whole smoking, creaking hopeless, futureless machine? Or do we start
It is with that hope for a new safer,
saner and more sustainable way of living, that I invite you to join
me On The Green Front
for conversations that inform, inspire, and just might
help turn this sinking ship around.
Last week's program featured Jennifer
Gray, co-founder of Transition Towns in America,
an informed and integrated approach to addressing climate change, peak
oil and need for community. Find out why this movement has taken
off in the U.K, and is taking hold in the U.S.
We also met Rob Wheeler, founder
of Campaign For A Sustainable America
and learned why his project made the Top Ten list with voters at change.org.
For more great conversations
about conservation, I hope to “see” you on the internet, Thursdays
at 1pm pst and archived at voiceamerica.com’s Green Talk Channel.