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applesOn a recent sunny winter’s day we traveled to Eastern Washington to visit a family member.  We loved seeing the folks skiing in the passes, hiking with sleds and some with horses as we traveled along. Wind farms abound on the hill sides and the gorge.   As we entered the apple growing valley and approached the Columbia River we saw all the frost turbines in the orchards and hundreds of folks in the sunshine pruning the row after row of orchard trees and grape vines.  There were some burning the limbs and some folks bundling them and packing them up; fascinating.

The Rivers presented a spectacular panorama surrounded by the snowy bare foothills.

There seemed to be something missing and it took us until we helped take out the garbage to figure it out.   We did not see any solar panels in this sunny, warm spot on our planet.  Well they are located not far from one of the largest Dams in our world?  Hmmmm?   We also did not see any recycling cans or collection boxes, or carts, or bins – all of that was missing.  We found it very irritating and harmful to our earth and we made a judgment call which was very negative.

Our home town is working towards ZERO garbage in the very near future.  We developed one of the most amazing recycling programs in the State and for a short period of time in the whole USA.  It has taken years and hours of education, and not all our neighbors are compliant but there is evidence of our hard efforts very visible everywhere.  And in our rainy clime, solar panels abound – our local company is even solarizing folk’s electric cars.

On to the Internet, and we searched the City we had just visited and did find a recycling day set aside this spring – in a parking lot and there was a recycling center listed which was going to pick up what people brought by and the limits of tires and appliances posted.

In our mind, this was not enough.  So we deepened the search and we found some good news.  The City was just finishing up a Sustainable Study Grant from the AIA International   and Seattle chapters and although they had not posted the outcomes yet, it had resulted in a new community center for the Southern Section of the City, which was in desperate need.   They have some plans of action outlined, but no more results listed.  We were hoping the outcomes would create a smaller cultural divide and less separate but attempting to be equal opportunity?  Sustainable?

Whew! We relaxed our judging position and sprinkled into our minds some positive buzz.  We are still disappointed that we could not find any evidence online of Organic farming or recycling, or even carbon understanding.  What were they spraying those orchards with and did anyone care?  How was it affecting and effecting the citizens and the minorities.  How was this impacting the health of the community and the city?  It seemed as though we needed to make our study more personal.

I looked up our City’s RUDAT study from 1979, which I was a noted volunteer on the project.  All the drawings and recommendations are in place and wow was it a change artist for our city and wow has that AIA study and the architects in our community made great connections and communications happen.   It is impressive what has been accomplished and the rewards in our life that have come about.

(I will say that the latest City Council seems to be ignoring the recommendations of that study – and maybe we need a fresher study as a new base?  I am judging again, I do not think folks care right now.)

Architects have a powerful role to play in our future.  I just went to look at LIFE OF AN ARCHITECTS blog  about his 24 favorite Architectural Blogs to read and was very judgmental again.   There was so little there about products and climate change and how architects can truly educate and be models for amelioration. 24 blogs was a lot of reading;  I was disappointed….I will just have to keep deepening my search, because I find it disheartening and discouraging that what I am reading is the same fear found in US vs. Them thinking and our Federal Government.   This is an opportunity for architects to be leaders/educators – not just following the norms and trends; the 1940s revisited?

Every building should be NET ZERO at the minimum…

What do you think?

Related Reading:
That Funny Picture in Discoveries 
Kirk’s Truck
Net Zero Energy Homes

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Thu, March 7 2013 » Discoveries

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