Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 4-16-08

There I was, watching “Across The Universe”, an incredible movie whose very core is the music of the Beatles.  Enter “Strawberry Fields Forever” and the words “Living is easy with eyes closed…..”

At times I so wish my eyes were closed so that life would be easier.  My awareness of our environmental plight brings baggage: concern and fear for the future that lies ahead of us given our disheveling web of life.

How can this be?  I look into my back yard on this wondrous spring day and a part of me sees serenity and natural beauty; insects, birds and squirrels doing their thing amidst greenery bursting towards the warmth of mid April.

With environmental awareness comes this paradox: on one hand the natural world offers me a secure blanket; like Thoreau I find that “In wilderness is the preservation of the world”.  On the other hand, my awareness of our environmental plight fuels a fire within me that makes me want to scream.

“Fire! Our home is burning!”

So you’ve read some of my columns, or perhaps have heard some of my radio shows on KMRE-FM, in which I’m yelling ‘FIRE!”  And some of these tirades have been rather bleak because house fires, quite simply, suck.  If I see a fire I’m going to yell “FIRE!” and I won’t apologize for that.

And when you hear someone yelling “FIRE!” it sure is helpful to also be told, or hollered at, the locations of the exits.  OK, you’re in trouble, now how to get out?

My columns and shows describe many exits: advanced framing in construction; joining Better World Travel instead of the car-centric Triple A; carbon-neutral travel; building small; bicycle commuting; weatherizing your home………

Addressed separately these behavioral exits are but a thimble-full of fire retardant thrown upon a roaring house fire.  Sure, they are better than nothing but, individually, they are clearly not going to extinguish the inferno.  Advanced framing or bicycling to work will not squelch the fire because our home — our blanket, our environment — is fully engulfed. (And yet, with eyes closed; it remains oh so pretty.)

We need radical simplification, and we need it now.  We need you, my fellow fire fighter, armed with all of the tools at hand – bicycles and carbon offsets and condoms and organic carrots and small homes and hybrid vehicles and weather stripping and green politicians and aggressive recycling and solar panels. We need you screaming “FIRE!” to your own world and taking huge action steps in order to squelch the flames.

Radical simplification now.

If you share my experience of an environmental inferno then your eyes are not closed.  Living is not easy.  Your job, like mine, is to smell the roses while you protect the earth.

Do them both, with eyes wide open.

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