What better way to salvage a gloomy day than my city making an green news appearance?
Today, our tiny town of 53,000 was acknowledged in MSN's city guide as home to one of the country's "Greenest Mayors". Elaine Walker was ranked fifth out of 14 mayors chosen across the U.S. for their commitment to greening the community. The blurb notes that Mayor Walker is working to make Bowling Green a more bike-friendly city and to make public transportation more accessible. She also supports "green building", a particularly pertinent interest as Bowling Green is in the process of re-vamping our downtown shopping district. Do I smell LEED certified lofts on the square? If so, Mayor Walker, I call dibs!
In the short article, Mrs. Walker says "There's too much of a perception that going green is a little bit out there and idealistic. It's not idealistic -- it's vital."
Sadly, this statement is right on target. In the past, raising awareness about environmental issues was painstaking, a good fraction of the passers-by scoff and stare or stop to argue. Though there will always be the nature nay-sayers, the community is becoming increasingly receptive to the various campaigns we're working on.
Now is the time for us to bridge the gap for those people that think all environmentalists are only arm-pitty, lentil eating, yogis (though they play a vital role). Bowling Green is the perfect place to make environmentalism accessible to a wide demographic. We may not be viewed as a particularly "bohemian" or "progressive" community which is at times discouraging to the average environmentalist (as these words are often synonymous with "green"). However, we should view this as an opportunity! We're free of the stigmas attached to the environmental movement that would prevent people from all walks of life taking on a role. Bowling Green is a clean slate with environmental passion blossoming on every side of the "tracks".
As activists, it is vital that we are constantly conscious of the way we present ourselves; its incredibly important to foster strong community but this can often be mistaken with a "clique". The award that Mayor Walker received is a simple reminder that it is not one type of person who creates change, it is a community bustling with a myriad of personalities, passions and skills. I challenge you, Kentucky (and beyond!) to reach out to those that may be intimidated by the close-knit environmental community.
Let's get everyone in on saving the world!
Peace - Hannah
*Green for All is "a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green
economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty." Visit them at their web site.
Photo: City of Bowling Green official municipal website