Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, May 02, 2005

Green Building: Status, Statement, or Steward?

I loved the Green Home Tour! I have too much to do today to give it a worthy write-up, but I wanted to share my primary observation: why do people “go green?” I saw a striking home in the hills of Oakland, built of concrete and glass. An older, affluent couple lives there in 4500 square feet of innovation. I saw a pair of dwellings in Berkeley using accents from salvaged autos and highway signs to proclaim the “new thinking” that went into the redesign. And finally, I saw a strawbale home overlooking a small canyon in Lafayette which is home to three families living together. They keep chickens and goats, too.

The most comfortable place, by far, was this last. It was the least tidy (even the home I haven’t mentioned, a construction site, was more prepped for guests) but the energy of it was the most wholesome and welcoming. I asked our hostess about how to harmonize three families under one roof:

“If the dirty dishes in the sink bother you, then do them. If doing them is going to make you resent that you are doing them, then don’t do them. That’s the rule of this house: don’t do anything you are going to resent.”

So I found that people "go green" as a status symbol, as a statement of principles, and finally as a way to practise gracious living, using less to do more, and creating community along the way. I especially resonate with this last one. I believe that as we recommit our energies to connecting to the people around us, we'll find we need less "stuff" to make us feel better. We'll discover we don't have to overcompensate for our isolation with super-sized everything. We'll learn how to live within our resource budget.

I don’t resent doing dishes. I know where I’d love to get invited to dinner.

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