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Archive for the ‘Green Girl Wannabe’ Category

Tonight, my mind’s shut. My heart too jumpy from the waiting. I feel like Larry David:

I can’t take much more of this. Two weeks six days to go, and I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t work. I can eat, but mostly standing up. I’m anxious all the time and taking it out on my ex-wife, which, ironically, I’m finding enjoyable my dogs, who keep tripping me when  I take them for their nightly walk. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it’s worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there’s still a potential cure. With this, there’s no cure. The result is final. Like death.

SIx more days. And I shall come back to my former green obsessed self.

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By now, I have become accustomed to the sight. Lots of men, and a few lost souls in skirts. I am referring to the various clean tech events I am fond of attending in the Bay Area. Green being a new field, you would think women would have seized the opportunity, quick. Last year, earth2tech had a hard time coming up with a list of The Top 10 Women in Cleantech. Nancy Floyd, founder and managing director of cleantech VC Nth Power, and the woman who made it to the top of the list, knows this firsthand:

Since founding Nth Power in 1993, she has sat on more than 15 boards — and only one of her fellow directors was a woman. When we asked her if she’s ever felt intimidated by the male dominance in the field, she first replied, “No,” and then added, “but I do over prepare.”

In the green blogosphere, the landscape is not that much different. Of the top 15 green blogs, according to Technorati authority rankings, only three are the creation of sisters. Jill Fehrenbacher, at Inhabitat. Rebecca Carter, at Ecorazzi. And Heather Stephenson, with Jennifer Boulden, at Ideal Bite.

I was hoping women would shine in green nonprofits. I am familiar with Frances Beinecke, the head of NRDC, and assumed, wrongly, that she was the norm. Based on a review of executive teams for  Charity Navigator‘s 10 best managed environmental nonprofits, only one, Sustainable Harvest International, is led by a woman, Florence Reed

It appears, that !8 million cracks in the glass ceiling are not enough. Never mind, we shall be like ants, patiently building a different world, one tiny green step at a time. 

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For several weeks, the Old Navy bag sat on the hallway table. I had promised Charlotte, I would return her shoes. The prospect of going to a store did not particularly excite me. But it had to be done. Today, I finally went, promising myself it would be quick.

Along the way, a new state of mind overtook me, that turned this simple errand into a long shopping expedition. My summer tops were becoming ragged, and I could use some new ones after all. Came out of Old Navy with a dress and a top. All revved up, I set out to drive home. Could not help but notice the Target sign on my left. In a split second, decided to make a U-turn, and check out what used to be my favorite store. There was no stopping me. Made my way fast through an impressive assortment of cheap, ugly rags, all made in China, and still stiff from various dyes, of doubtful provenance. Until I hit the Converse section. I remembered seeing an ad on TV a few months ago:

Prad called. Wanted to know where I was. I had promised a beet salad with feta cheese for lunch. That would have to wait I told him. Too busy trying out stuff from the Converse company. You can’t be disturbing a woman in the midst of a shopping spree. Three pairs of shoes, and a dress, and a pair of jeans. I had done well. I was on my way to becoming a Star, all for only $163.75. 

I thought I had left my Target addiction behind. Today’s experience proved otherwise. Once an addict, always an addict. The hardest part is giving up an addiction, that keeps being encouraged by our consumerist culture

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Yesterday I gave up on my original idea to take the train and then BART,  to my meeting with the folks from Lucid Design Group. One thing led to the next, and before you know it, I had only one hour left before my appointment. Driving was the only way I could make it on time. To be honest, I was not too keen on this elaborate public transit scheme.  I am ok with just taking the train, but ask me to transfer to another mode, and my interest drops!

Today, no such excuse. I had planned to bike to my hairdresser’s appointment. Several hours working, then swimming, and lounging around reading the paper, once again, I cut it too close. Driving the three miles became the only option, if I wanted to make my 4.15 date at La Belle salon. 

What has happened to my green resolutions? Before I left on vacations, I wrote enthusiastically about my biking escapades. Since I came back two weeks ago, I have fallen off track. Rhythm, interrupted. Old habits, not dead, got the best of me, again. 

More telling than all the green consumers’ surveys, is the reality of my tenuous commitment. Symptomatic of a much broader ill, I believe. While away in France and in Italy, I witnessed the same spectacle: never ending flows of cars covering up the freeways, just like in the US. We the people on planet Earth, have not yet reached the tipping point when our collective consciousness will dictate another way of living. 

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Starting tomorrow, I will be off to Europe for a two-week visit to my family, followed by a tour of the Tuscan countryside. If I was 100% pure, I would stay home, and use Skype to stay in touch with my loved ones. After all, air travel is one the most CO2 intensive mode of transportation:

This is where the power of emotional ties collide with my green conscience. The tragedy of my 86-year old mother slowly falling to Alzheimer’s, and the adorable pictures of my new six-month old nephew Amadeo, are stronger than all the carbon calculations. I have to go.

To ease up my footprint, I will, of course, buy carbon offsets from Terrapass. And dream of a not so distant future, when air travelling may not be such a curse on the environment.

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I was so proud, I had to share my triumph with the clerk at Whole Foods. “Today is the first time I bike to the grocery store. Boy, am I good! Re-usable bags, donation to the homeless, biking . . . I deserve a place in green heaven.” And then the ride home, with Pervenche. Sheer pleasure of warm, almost summer breeze, whiffs of flowers along the path, I was feeling high from my satisfied green conscience and awakened senses. Trying hard to not get too carried away, and to pay attention to the road. 

This, folks is what a peak oil world can feel like, with the right infrastructure, as in bike path without cars.

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It happened last night, as I was getting dinner ready. Guests were coming in an hour, and the chocolate dessert was not even made, and I had run out of sugar. What to do? The thought of driving four blocks to the nearby grocery store felt sacrilegious. Biking or walking were my next options, but then I didn’t feel I could afford to spend the extra few minutes. In desperation, the brilliant revelation came to me, that I did not have to go very far. How about running across the street to our neighbors’ house? Sure enough, a few minutes later, I was back with the prized sugar. And the satisfaction of having caught up with Steve and the kids.

That’s when it hit me. How alienated I have become from the physical community called my neighborhood. Things that were second nature to my grandparents, such as neighbors helping each other out, are no longer part of my DNA. Wiped out, by a lifestyle that promotes self-reliance at all costs and diverts much of our socializing urges into virtual networks, such as Twitter.

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More potent than the most virulent tirades from flaming climate deniers, are the silent thoughts that circle in our minds and negate even our greenest intentions. It takes trained attention to catch these thoughts. Right now, for instance, I am about to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods. Only a few miles away. No objective reasons for why I can’t bike. Still, my mind is already made up:

I am going to drive. Don’t ask me to be good. Don’t ask me to be green. I don’t feel up to it. Need to be pampered. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus I am angry about stuff. Can’t deal with all that other shit. I fall back on what’s familiar, what I know best. Can’t, don’t want to make the extra effort. Right now, it is just me, me. Could care less about the planet, and what’s going to happen in ten, even a few years from now. It is too much work. I want simple. No room for other considerations. 

See what I mean?

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It’s been over a year now, since I decided to return to work full time, after a long stretch raising my daughters and pursuing other interests. Job offers have come and gone. So many options, and a sense that I can really do anything, as long as I set my heart to it. And I am still looking, for the perfect job, with just the right mix of greenness and Web hipness. It’s gotten to the point where I am feeling restless, and frustrated. Enters Barry Schwartz, a sociology professor at Swarthmore College, and the author of ‘The Paradox of Choice‘:

I can totally relate. More importantly, Barry Schwartz provides yet another argument for why we need to share our material affluence. It is good for us to deal with less, and the rest of the world needs our surplus. 

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For years, I have been listening to my dreams. They are my internal compass, and a source of infallible wisdom.

Robert Redford visited me last night. I was back to being a jewelry artist and I was making a pair of chandelier earrings. Robert Redford was correcting my design. He was telling me to trim some of the pieces. Other parts needed to be moved around. The bottom strands with green beads, especially needed some attention, so that the overall design could be more harmonious.

Lately, I have been overwhelmed with too many projects. I need to focus, eliminate, rearrange, simplify so that I can be more effective at what I want to do. Despite my steadfast commitment to the green cause, I have allowed some distractions to take away precious time, and doubts to seep in, that cloud my vision.

I need to go back to how I felt after attending Robert Redford‘s speech, when I emphatically declared, ‘Robert Redford grabs my heart and inspires my whole being to go further and to act.

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