THE SWEET AND SOUR ON DIFFERENT WAYS TO EFFECT ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

THE SWEET AND SOUR ON DIFFERENT WAYS TO EFFECT ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

Freelancer Donna Cole reports in The Capital about how one local martial arts instructor is helping kids paint rain barrels for recapturing storm water runoff, and then auctioning them to raise money for environmental groups: http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2007/09_24-21/CAN

This is a fantastic idea and Mr. Joe Van Deuren, owner of Balanced Life Skills in Annapolis, is to be commended. Here you take the entrepreneurial spirit, combine it with a hands-on, fun, educational program for our youth and then raise money to go back toward environmental causes. It's homegrown, it's local and it makes sense. These barrels slow the flow of stormwater back into our creeks and allow homeowners to use the water where and when it is needed, hopefully as part of improved landscaping.

Compare and contrast this program with the command and control ideas of Alderman Sam Shropshire concerning banning onerous plastic bags. CP urged Alderman Shropshire to channel his energies toward making a public-private partnership whereby local community groups could create low-impact, resuable canvas or mesh bags imprinted with social marketing messages and sell them to raise money for these community groups. The Alderman was intent upon a ban.

Compare and contrast this with a recent story in the innocuous and pusillanimous local publication, Inside Annapolis, about an Eastport girl who sells lemonade to raise money for "the rainforest" whatever or wherever that may actually be. See the article entitled, "Who says one person can't make a difference?"at http://www.insideannapolis.com/current/bonney.html

According to the authors, who also happen to be the parents of the young lady featured in the article (a fact which is conveniently not mentioned but underscores the ridiculousness of this advertorial publication whose real purpose is to encourage yet more consumerism), "All of the $338 dollars collected that day went to the Rainforest Foundation, an organization that supports the indigenous peoples of the world’s rainforests."

The article goes on to show us how we all can make a difference with the usual items we have all come to be familiar with from a host of feel-good lists such as, "Change just one 60-wat light bulb in your house to a compact fluorescent bulb" and here's a good one-- "Drive less aggressively" and it gets worse with finally, "Don’t use air fresheners that have to be plugged in." Yes, and all the while, live in a huge house, drive three SUV's all over the place, and watch loads of television.

(CP again encourages readers to see this article by climate activist Mike Tidwell http://www.grist.org/feature/2007/09/04/change_redux/index.html)

Again--compare and contrast this with the rain barrel project which focuses on local issues here and now and gets kids to actually do things. CP salutes the young lady for wanting to help and for raising money for a good cause, but one must ask about the educational and practical value of the lemonade stand. For example--did the lemons or the sugar come from former rainforest? What other items in her home or neighborhood come from rainforests? What can we all really do to lessen our impacts? And finally, how many trees are cut down every year in Maryland to make way for more development? Children and adults need to explore and understand real world connections with real world issues and not engage in feel good activities that disguise the real issues. Put that in your lemonade and drink it up.

4 Comments:

jennifer said...

Mr. Foer:

While I enjoy your column a lot because of how you take The Capital to task, I feel you must make a correction to one of your entries.

Here's the erroneous part:

According to the authors, who also happen to be the parents of the young lady featured in the article (a fact which is conveniently not mentioned but underscores the ridiculousness of this advertorial publication whose real purpose is to encourage yet more consumerism),

I was curious about what kind of parents would be so self-serving, so I clicked on the link and saw this:

Josalyn, daughter of Carol and Cory Bonney (owners of the Inn at Horn Point in Eastport),

FWIW, I am not related to nor do I know the Bonneys.

PAUL FOERfoerp@msn.com said...

Jennifer: If I need to make a correction or clarification, I will do so, but I do not understand your comment. What is your relationship to or involvement in this article? Where was anyone named "Jennifer" mentioned? What does FWIW mean? Inside Annapolis clearly states in the article that the authors, identified in the byline, are the parents of the young lady who is the subject of the article. Please elaborate upon or clarify your concern, but without an email address, I cannot respond directly. Thank you.

Big Willie said...

FWIW = For what it's worth

Thanks for the steady supply of material that's slanted the way we need to go. It's refreshing that some publication is willing to call out our culture's less than half hearted addressing of environmental issues.

To even think that consuming could be environmental is to mislead oneself. Just by shopping at the market one is purchasing food gotten by burning fossil fuels. Is anyone stopping eating? No. While it's impossible to live here without participating in the gross pollution that everyone in our culture is responsible for, at least some people acknowledge their part. The less wrong of us do what we can to buy sustainable, non-slave-labor produced products, but corporate-lead media and marketing make it difficult to figure out what is and isn't. But it is all delivered by truck. Then we cook it on our fossil fuel powered equipment. Point is we all need to acknowledge our gross complicity in the environmental crisis. Then we need to mitigate our personal impact by changing our lives. Not copping out and whining about how everybody that CAN commute by foot or bike should, and getting a job where we can. Or moving where we can. We aren't entitled to burn gas to get to work, it's a luxury we enjoy because we're doing something untoward. All of U.S.

PAUL FOERfoerp@msn.com said...

Big Willie??? uh...hunh.... I agree with you. You might enjoy reading James Kunstler's website
http://www.kunstler.com/ and his book, The Long Emergency....next time, please send in your real name.... please?

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