Another one bites the dust.
We bloggers try and keep track of one another to share links and (when appropriate) stories. For the past year Shelby Wood has been blogging for PDXgreen, the on-line blog of the Oregonian. In my opinion, it's been one of the better local resources for NW Green News. She joins the ranks of the PI's dateline Earth Time blog that was discontinued last month. No definative word on who may replace her or how/if the blog will continue.
What follows is her final column and blog entry for PDXgreen. It's worth a read.
After one year, two weeks, 49 columns and countless blog entries, I am done. Someone else will take over PDXgreen, while I figure out my next act beyond The Oregonian.
Nearly 15 years in daily journalism has made me who I am. But the past year was a different animal.
The gig changed me.
For one, my bar for kooky, beyond-the-pale behavior is way higher. Composting my banana peels doesn't seem weird anymore, probably because I do it. I have biked to work and survived; as a result, I never make a right turn in my car without checking my blind spot for a cyclist. Sometimes twice.
I am irritated beyond reason at sit-down restaurants that offer only throwaway plastic cutlery. I have an aversion to apples not grown in Oregon or Washington. When I shopped for a new home, its "walkability" score was a determining factor. I am excited by post-consumer content, as long as it doesn't cost twice as much as the pre-consumer kind.
In all this, I suspect I'm not unlike many Portlanders, many Americans even, who have begun to raise their own kooky bars because they think it might make a difference to the health of the world in their lifetimes, or in their kids' lifetimes. Right in time for the mainstream, here come U.S. car companies in a rush to deliver a viable electric car, while an organic veggie garden goes in at the White House.
Yet the biggest lesson I take from the past year isn't about the merits of composting or turning lights off on the way out of a room.
It is to reserve one's limited time, energy and outrage for the big ticket items on the sustainability shelf -- or risk getting lost in the green weeds.
I'm speaking here for those who consider climate change, our nation's reliance on oil we don't produce and the wastefulness of our consumer culture to be big problems in want of solutions - but who can't or don't want to give their entire lives over to the cause.
It's important to listen to the most committed folks because they're often right, years before the mainstream reluctantly agrees. But for most of us, there's only so much time in the day to make lifestyle changes in service of a greater green good. So you've got to make them count, and some efforts simply matter more:
What we drive, and how often. Where we live. How we heat and cool our homes. What we teach our kids.
What matters less: Persuading your retired parents that it makes no sense for them to buy a GMC Yukon that seats six, given that they are only two, and neither works in construction. Worrying about how to recycle a screw-top wine closure. Living in a dismal blue glow because you bought low-quality compact fluorescent light bulbs and can't stand to waste the purchase. (Recycle the lame CFLs, upgrade to a decent brand, and move on.)
There are other dangers to getting lost in the micro-eco, such as becoming an angry and intolerant person.
I used to report on religion for The Oregonian. But I hadn't encountered unblinking, unthinking religious fervor until I suggested that some CFLs don't work so well, and that not everyone can afford to buy all organic, all the time. Green blaspheme! I'm lucky we don't do witch trials anymore, or this column might have ended a lot earlier.
Savvy marketers and earnest activists can make the case that every tiny green bit matters, from buying only organic chocolate-covered raisins to employing reusable menstrual cups (I don't make this stuff up). On some level, it does all matter -- but so does getting to work on time, saving for the kids' college fund, being generous to the parents who raised you and actually experiencing the planet that all our recycling is meant to preserve.
In the words of Edward Abbey, "...it is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here."
So as I figure out my next steps -- more writing, or perhaps a new career altogether -- I'll try to keep up with the bus riding, energy saving and composting. I'll be happy if my daughter grows up to consider it all routine, rather than kooky.
Worth the effort, in other words.
Thanks for reading.