Thursday, April 15, 2010

Green, American Style

In college, I took an amazing class titled Feminisms and the Environment. My professor was a vegan lesbian who was in a wheel chair because she lost both her legs (and most of her hands) in an arson fire. I enrolled in the class because I needed to satisfy a liberal arts requirement. Part of the beauty of attending a liberal arts college. (I'll do a post on the benefits of a lib arts education in another post, swears.)

The most awesome thing about this gal wasn't that she kept an amazing pace despite her limitations. She and her partner, another faculty member, worked on an organic co-op in their spare time. She hiked regularly. Drove herself to and from class. She distributed hand-outs herself instead of enrolling a student to do it for her. But she valued my opinions as much as my more radical fellow students. And at the end of the semester, she told me how much she enjoyed having me in her class. Me. A straight, white, moderate girl of middle-class upbringing who wore heels to class instead of Birkenstocks and ratty t-shirts with "Blessed Anarchy" hand-painted on. (True story, folks.) And yet, I cannot remember her name. Sad, I know.

This class literally changed who I am because it's where I had my first "aha" moments, if you will, about how inextricably linked we are with our environment. I won't get on my soap box, but even now, I'm always trying to make the most environmentally responsible choice possible and living in California, it's only gotten worse. And where I come from, the Texas Gulf Coast, recycling is reason enough to be labeled a "liberal." In the age of Obama, that's a dirty word in those parts.

That's why I was so excited to read about this new book by Anna Clark, Green, American Style. In the book, Anna makes the case that environmentalism is inherently American and it doesn't have to be a political position. Rather, it should be viewed as a human decision.

I'm reading this book asap and hopefully, I have more wisdom on my side next time I get into a debate with my family, who throws away plastic bottles even though a truck picks them up with the trash. Thanks, Anna, for blurring those party lines for us! It's not either/or. It's both/and.

Green, American Style was released on April 1st, 2010 and it's available on Kindle! Anna Clark owns and runs and sustainable consulting firm and you can learn more about Anna and her work here.