Sunday, January 6, 2008

Walk the Talk

Note: This is Sunday Soapbox Day, and I'm inviting my wife, Sarah, to get up there today. We live in Sebastopol, a small (population 7,800) town in Western Sonoma County, California. Sebastopol is about 8 miles west of a much larger city, Santa Rosa, California. Though she is on Sebastopol's City Council and has been Mayor of our town, Sarah used to work in Santa Rosa. She moved her office here recently. This story tells why:

Walk the Talk

I have to confess that it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I could actually live and work in the same town - our town.

For years, I’ve been making about 8-10 round trips to Santa Rosa each week to run my own business. Some days, I’d drive those Highway 12 miles back and forth more than once. Some weeks, I’d spend Saturday or Sunday in my office, catching up.

All the while, like so many of my generation, I’ve been dutifully worrying about the “seventh generation” and diligently trying to reduce my ecological footprint. I’ve done all the trendy things, from recycling to riding my bike. I’ve changed out the old style light bulbs, installed a tankless water heater, and even suffered Prius envy.

At the same time that I’ve been preaching to other people to “think local first,” I’ve been conducting my business in Santa Rosa,

It’s discomforting how blind I was to my own hypocrisy until I recognized it, staring me in the face. One day, it finally dawned on me, in a way that I finally understood, that I could do more, much more deeply more, to save the earth and support our town by moving my business here. I could align my values and my work life.

I’ve known a lot of people who understood this ahead of me. After all, with my politics and philosophy, I’d picked a local doctor, dentist. grocer, banker, insurance agent, teachers for my children, and so on. These folks have enjoyed living and working in the same town for their careers. They were already walking the talk that I was just talking.

Walking is a very enjoyable means of transportation. It’s so slow that it allows me to see what’s all around. Now that I’ve relocated to South Main Street, I’m looking forward to investigating just what our community is like in the daytime, with all its busy-ness and traffic. I’ll get to see what’s here, what’s happening and what’s missing. There will be time at lunch to do errands downtown, sample the local restaurants, and shop for the occasional gift. I’ll learn just how pedestrian and bike friendly this town is.

By becoming a local business, I’m able to lower my green house gas emissions, to participate more in the local economy, and to enjoy all that extra time that I would have spent behind the wheel.

If all of us brought our businesses or services here and we patronized each other, think what a lively local economy we would have.

4 comments:

indiaartist said...

I believe in reducing my "ecological footprints" too. Everyone can contribute to the world one step at a time. Good decision.

sylvia said...

Yes, allow my story...As i was afraid of cars ( except with a good chauffeur ) always had i to live near my activities....i only walk, as Indians...

fair organisation is a good start for fair Earth respect, yes ?

Edward Mills | Evolving Times said...

Hi Dan

Nice to know there's another Sebastopolian doing the walk/bike to work thing. (Actually, there are quite a few of us). My office is an 8-minute walk from my house. I love being able to walk to work and walk home for lunch. The only thing that gets in the way of walking all the time is when it's my day to drop off Ella at pre-school. Then I need to take the car.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Indiaartist, I think many of us are trying to move in this direction. Sylvia, how wonderful that you walk most everywhere you go.

Edward, I'm glad to know you both live and work here. I know that you work here, as your office is just down the hill from our house. How old is Ella?