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June27GreenBuildingForEveryone

Last week The Herald published a prominent story about green building in Puyallup. Thatís awesome! What Iíd like to say is this: Building green is really easy, much easier than is conveyed in mainstream knowledge.

Right now Iím at a farm outside of Bellingham. For two weeks weíve converted a greenhouse into a classroom for the teaching of a permaculture design course. Itís a crash course in sustainability: Food forage systems, wild plants, natural building, appropriate technology, animal husbandry and general revolution.

Basically, I learned Ďgreení skills in a very backwoods, low-tech way, just like this. Iíve learned smart, fun conservation techniques that anyone can use. And now I help teach it.

I compare this to a tour I got of the envirohouse last spring ó remember the green building demo that used to be near the fountain at The Puyallup Fair? Now itís a walk-through model at the Tacoma dump. During the tour we saw high-tech insulation, sustainably harvested materials and fancy worm bins and at the end of the tour my stomach was sick with sadness.

Why show only the expensive sustainability techniques? Many of the products in green building are things you have to buy, keeping you in the consumer part of the food chain. They may be better for the earth, but combined with shipping and installation, may actually not be.

Hereís some good news: You can build a worm-bin for free with scrap wood. You can build a micro-hydro generator using a few parts and a plastic bucket. You can teach your kids how to find food in the forest. You and some friends can easily build a house mostly with clay, sand and straw (itís called cob, and itís really fun to work with).

Only for freaks, you say? Or hippies who live in the woods? Well maybe, but not totally. Just face your house to the south. Or finish cooking meals in a hay-box, an insulation box built for pots. Maybe let some perennial edible plants grow in your yard; lots of them are delicious. And if all of this sounds boring, there are even plenty of parties and concerts that are powered with solar panels.

Itís really so easy. And thereís an exciting community of elders and geniuses and woodsmen and revolutionaries who are toiling away making it easier for the rest of us. Take heart. You donít have to be rich to go green. Weíre doing it already.

CALENDAR: June 29 Sustainable Puyallup meeting, July 5 Mother Earth Farm work party, July 12 Tacoma Food Co-op fundraiser.

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Page last modified on December 12, 2008, at 05:12 PM