|Vegan Sneaks and My Urban Eco-Paradise|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
I grew up in a farm town in the state of Michigan. And despite my eccentric appearance, I have farm-town values. In part, that means that family and nature mean a lot to me. So it breaks my heart in a secret way that I cannot live out my dreams of being a performing artist anywhere but in a large city. After all, to us rural folks, cities are ‘dirty, impersonal and always in a rush.’
To some degree, of course, all accusations are true. You don't have to be from a small town to smell the exhaust blanketing Hollywood Boulevard on a 105-degree day in late July. And you don't have to ride the NYC subway for long to get that mystery grit under your fingernails, up your nostrils and in your pores. Cities are dirty but despite the obvious street grime, a city just may be the most environmentally friendly place to live.
It all depends on how you use it.
When you grow up in a small town, you're in nature a lot, if only by default. And the old saying applies: "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." My parents aren't the only things lacking in my urban life. I miss nature and the smell of the color green. And it is precisely this longing that evoked my passion for green living. Had I never left my farm town, I might not have felt the urgency to protect what the countryside has to offer. Had I never lived in a farm town, I might think of pollution and consumerism as acceptable parts of life. But I have had these experiences. And that makes me care.
I used to think it is the immense concentration of people that makes a city dirty, but now I see it as one of urban living's greenest assets—engendering, as it does, a local mindset. Others like me have moved to the city, most of them from smaller towns (there aren't many towns larger than LA or NYC in the United States, after all). And we all remember nature's bounty. Are we preserving what we left behind? Are we restoring what is absent to our new homes? Whatever our reasons, together we build composting and recycling systems that succeed only because there are so many of us working together. We pass laws that ban the use of petro-plastic grocery bags because there are enough of us rallying for the cause. We support wildlife protection agencies with our time and money and, thanks to sheer numbers, we really do make a difference.
Now, when I see skyscrapers I think of how many thousands of people are housed there, rather than clearing acres of natural habitat for a single farm, paving miles of countryside to connect only four homes, and living so far away from a school, market or movie theater that residents spend more time in their 4x4 trucks than I do on LA freeways.
It all depends on how you use it.
Local living, however, applies to more than the concentrated mind frame. It dictates my consumer choices as well. I purchase local organic produce because fresh food is cheaper and more nutritious. I support local businesses because I want to keep my city employed. I choose locally manufactured products because it cuts down on transportation pollution when I don't request it be shipped over from China. Or mailed from New Jersey.
Local living helps to determine my transportation choices. I choose activities I can walk to. Within a short five-block walk from my apartment door, I can take professional dance classes, martial arts, pilates and yoga. And I do. I can walk to the post office, the bank, my mechanic and the office-supply store. I can sit at the local coffee shop, medicinal-herb bar and live-music venue. In fact, I've often pronounced that my neighborhood would be perfect if it had an organic/raw/vegan cafe. The inner-city deities must have been listening because this month, Cafe Flourish—an organic/raw/vegan café—opened in south Hollywood just five blocks from my front door. Now I officially live in the perfect city neighborhood.
Sure, we all want to live where the air is clear and the water untreated, but I am convinced I live in paradise… right here, right now. Local living in the city makes all my environmental dreams a possibility. Vegan sneakers on the sidewalk keep my transportation, diet and consumption as green as can be. And my little neighborhood walks do their part to shatter the ‘impersonal and always in a rush‘ city stereotype of small-town fears, too. If only my vegan sneaks could bring my mom and dad closer. Now that would be a true paradise.
[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on EcoHearth.com or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]
Help the Earth, Spread the Word: Share this article with family and friends by clicking on the "Email This" or "Share This" links below right. Then see TODAY'S TOP STORIES.
Copyright EcoHearth. All rights reserved. Reprint Policy
Written by Tonya Kay , May 25, 2009Report abuse
Written by Kate Mura , May 24, 2009Report abuse
Written by perkunas , May 23, 2009Report abuse
Written by MELISSA MANGO , May 22, 2009Report abuse
Written by Wendi Dee , May 22, 2009Report abuse