Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rolling Right Along

While I should be making batches of biscotti a la Farmgirl for yuletide giving, wrapping up my holiday presents in recycled paper Spiral-style, or planning a beachy end-of-the-year getaway like Laurie (in my dreams...), I've been indulging in some excellent online reading. I've added a few of my latest finds to my blogroll. Check them out when a cup of coffee and thoughtful writing sound more appealing than trying to come up with an appropriate gift for Aunt Martha:

Spiral's been making good sense of simple living: from energy-efficient hairdrying to shopping local for the holidays.

A blogger that I used to faithfully read for her insightful and personal comments about her environmental awakening is back with a vengeance. If you drink coffee (and I know you do...), you must see SustainableGirl's posts about coffee filters and the chemical soup that comes from the bleached paper variety. She's also inspired me to finally purchase a copy of the End of Suburbia DVD rather than waiting for Netflix to upgrade it from "very long wait" on my queue.

I found Choosing Hope via firedoglake and knew that I might have stumbled upon a kindred spirit when the first post that I read was about Frankie Lappe. Walker's thoughts on stating the obvious are dead-on too.

And, last but not least, is my husband who is "making MacArthur look like Mary Poppins," as his tagline now reads at madgeneral. (I'm not sure where he gets this stuff...) In any event, his post on Wal-Mart makes mine look like a spoonful of sugar.

So, I'll keep reading, we'll all keep writing, and maybe we'll roll a little closer to a better world.


  • At 9:12 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    I read over the madgeneral's posts and was considering adding him to my blogroll. Now I will definitely! Thanks for the info about coffee filters from Sustainable Girl--that gives me something else to add to the holiday present for my housemate, who is getting a new coffeemaker.

    Boy, this blogging is a great excuse to put off grading papers . . .

  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger Zosja said…

    hey Lauren,
    I am launching a 'social change' blog about ethical utopian society and hope to generate extensive flow of information. please share what you think, I would appreciate it. If you like to affiliate with me, just let me know.

  • At 6:07 PM, Blogger Roger, Gone Green said…

    Owning "End of Suburbia" is a good thing -- if you can get your hands on a big TV or an computer projector (say from work) you can host a screening in your neighborhood; I have a couple of times been a speaker at such an event wearing my Transportation Commission and Pasadena Walks! hats, and plan to host some showings in the spring. Great way to connect with other eco-crazies and feel a little less, well, crazy!

  • At 6:16 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    Hey Roger. Your comment makes me feel justified in finally ordering a copy of "End of Suburbia" last night when I saw that they now sell a DVD-"lite" that has minimal packaging (just cardboard rather than the plastic case) on sale for $20. I figure that the expense will be justified if I can connect with some others to screen it and get some discussion going. Feeling a little less crazy? Sounds like what I need right about now! ;)

  • At 11:16 AM, Blogger Walker said…

    Lauren, thanks for the props. My blog is much less focused than yours, but that gives me plenty to post about. Since your focus is more green, I'd be curious to know what you think of this post. Though I have what I consider to be a green outlook, I think many greens hurt their movement by being too uncompromising.

    I'd also like to point you to Karama Neal's blog, So what can I do? She keeps her material very focused and positive. She exudes a genuineness and warmth that I think is inspiring.

  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger lauren said…


    Thanks for reminding me about So what can I do? I hadn't visited for awhile, but I wholeheartedly agree that the positive focus is a welcome respite.

    You're right that I do tend to focus somewhat on environmental issues. There are so many political blogs out there that do a much better job than I could at covering a whole range of issues. That said, my philosophy is that so many seemingly disparate issues are really interconnected. (Check out my first post for my thoughts on that.) Recently, I've had quite a head of steam about the environment, though!

    I read the post that you linked to with interest. You say, "Those who want to keep misbehavior in check will shine the spotlight on the rampant abuses, and sometimes argue that we are thus under-regulated and therefore defend even ineffective regulations on the grounds that we can't afford to undo any regulations if they have any effect on curbing something undesirable. This is what I call turf-protecting, and I see that many environmentalists are guilty of it."

    I have a difficult time analyzing these kinds of issues in a theoretical sense. I would rather that there be some specifics on the table. That said, I agree that an inability to compromise and blatant turf-defending for the sake of ideology alone is cleary undesirable, divisive, and, worse yet, ineffective for any movement, including the environmental movement. Some questions that we need to ask, then, are - What compromise is on the table? Are we talking about the desirability of a proposed regulation or cutting back an existing regulation? In the case of proposed regulations, our next set of questions are: Who is against the regulation and why? What is their stake in the status quo? Is it primarily profit? What interests (health, clean air, a stable climate) support limiting profit for a greater good?

    If you are talking about defending an existing piece of legislation, then a related set of questions needs to be probed. We've been talking about these in my household a lot over the past couple of days because my husband just wrote a post linking to this worthwhile article from Outside magazine from the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election. In it, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Christine Todd Whitman talk about a host of environmental issues and the regulatory environment at the EPA in the Bush administration's first term. CTW and RFK exemplify the debate that we are alluding to when discussing conventional wisdom about compromise when it comes to environmental regulation:

    OUTSIDE: It often seems like the two sides are talking past one another. How can we have a healthy debate when officeholders have to balance conflicting agendas, and environmental leaders feel they must never compromise?

    WHITMAN: Environmental groups often act as if there's only one right way to get things done. That's not reality. But they've skewed things so much that you can't even use the word balance now when talking about the environment. The minute you say "balance," whichever group you're talking to assumes they've already lost.

    KENNEDY: The reason environmentalists get nervous is because balance to us means date rape. The environmental regulations that exist today—the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act—are already the product of balance. Industry had its say when we passed these regulations. The statutes themselves were a compromise. If anything, a lot of them are already weighted more toward industry than the public. Then we get public officials who come into office, stop enforcing the laws, and say, "Well, we have to balance it again."

    Every time we go to the table to get "balanced," we lose something, because industry controls the debate. The idea that you can say there is a debate about whether or not industrial emissions cause global warming is ludicrous—and yet industry is able to persuade even our highest public officials that the jury's still out.

    As usual, I think that RFK says it better than I ever could! I'll just add that I think that most people who are concerned about the environment - whether they consider themselves part of a movement or not - are incredibly skeptical of any revisiting of environmental regulation that was enacted to protect things that all Americans take for granted when the Bush administration's tactics have been simultaneously blatant and sneaky (Healthy Forests, anyone?) and would result in environmental regulation created by and for industry.

    All of that leads me back to the big question that arose for me from your post. In the environmental context, what are the "ineffective regulations" that environmentalists are defending and protecting? I happen to think that most environmental regulation does not go far enough in requiring corporations and citizens to put aside the profit motive (which for corporations is their sole purpose under state corporate law) for a minute and consider the world that we are creating for our children.

    Anyway, let's keep thinking about this. There's a lot more I need to understand.

  • At 7:41 PM, Blogger SustainableGirl said…

    Lauren, I wanted to thank you for your ringing endorsement. I'm glad you found me and I found you. Those of us who feel uncomfortably radical (me & many others, I imagine) are realizing there are lots of us who feel this way and want to make changes. I'll research the other blogs you listed - thanks again! It's especially hard to be green at this time of year, so I'm so grateful for all the new resources I've found.

  • At 4:04 AM, Blogger Walker said…

    Lauren, that has to be the most substantive response to any comment that I've ever left on any blog. Thank you for all the effort you put into it! And you said so much that I want to continue thinking about - but I'll probably continue the discussion in other posts here, on my blog, or elsewhere. Just wanted you to know that it was read and appreciated - sometimes I reply to comments and wish I had an indication that my effort was even seen, so it's only fair not to leave you hanging if only to say thanks, and I believe you're on the right track with this. Indeed the devil is in the details as they say. I'm often tempted to analyze things broadly in a theoretical sense, but you are right that without specifics to back up the generalizations, it is difficult to have much confidence in the general analysis.

  • At 7:39 AM, Blogger lauren said…

    Walker - You obviously got me thinking! Thanks for that. Let's keep thinking about and talking about these questions and issues.


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