Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The term "environmentalism" for many still brings up images of Birkenstock wearing hippies touting peace signs and hugging trees. For others the image might be more hip,cool and now - visions of Leo DiCaprio exiting a Prius and young celebutants wearing tight organic t-shirts. But on Monday, for the folks in Woodinville Washington "environmentalists" brought up images of terrorists and secret cell operatives. Welcome to Environmentalism 2008.
This week in a suburban town or Woodinville Washington (just outside of Seattle), three multi-million dollar homes went up in flames in a development called "Street of Dreams." The FBI is still investigating the event, side by side with all star team of government who's who including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as the local law enforcement. With a name like "Street of Dreams," and visions of McMansion laden Cul-de-Sacs up in flames, the American dream seemed to just turn ugly. Can it be that we are no longer safe to live in our energy inefficient sprawl, drowning in plastic supermarket bags that we shlepp mall to mall in our SUV's? What is the world coming to?
As the flames subsided on Monday, a sign remained which carried the initials of the Earth Liberation Front, a group of activists that have been blamed for several arsons in the US Pacific Northwest in recent years. Alongside the initials on their hand painted sign read "Built Green? Nope BLACK! McMansions + RCD's not green. ELF." RCD is an acronym for rural cluster development (meaning what millions of you-and I- are living in). Along with our mortgage crises, we the poor shmo's of the middle and middle upper class, have another thing to worry about - being burnt to a crisp..not only in our bank accounts but now in quarter acre piece of Americana we thought we earned.
The group might have been protesting the irony of a development promising "Green Building Standards," as they assert no development can truly offer. But ultimately what the ELF did was shake the middle upper class - reminding (if even for a moment, while watching the evening news) them that excess and wasteful consumerism does not come without a price - not in the short or long term. That someone out there is getting really really angry at all that many of us, care so little about. The criminal activity that is being attributed to the ELF will go punished by a system that doesn't care about the moral convictions of criminal, and much like religious fundamentalist - these bands of environmental fundamentalists will probably encounter back lash from the moderate majority that is trying to rework the system from the inside out.
I for one hope this case gets more media attention. May it wake people up to the growing sadness and anger living side by side to the hope and optimism of all those looking for a more sustainable future. Lets just hope we can get to that future while remembering, in the words of Martin Luther King, that " nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time."