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A Green White House

Dominique Browning of the late lamented House and Garden wrote in The Wall Street Journal recently about changes in the White House as the Obamas prepare to move in, and some changes that could be made.

“A green lifestyle shouldn’t be an unaffordable status symbol; it has to become mainstream. With the Obamas‘ leadership, America can trace a path to a more compassionate, respectful, sustainable way of keeping house.” she said.

While I certainly look to the Obamas to set an example for us in greening our lives, I think we all have to remember that we are each exemplars for the people around us. Every time we buy a fluorescent or LED light, use a canvas shopping bag, or use our compost pile we are modelling ways to cut down on pollution and energy use.

I also agree with Browning that while the Obamas could turn part of the White House grounds into a vegetable and fruit garden (I don’t care if they like international and ethnic cuisines if they use local-as-possible foods) but I am not enamored of the appelation Victory Garden. Can’t we have a less violent and combative metaphor. Victory Gardens were invented during real wars, and considered a part of the war effort. Our gardens now can be grown out of love for our own bodies and health, out of love for the earth and the environment, and out of love for all those who will inhabit this earth after us.

We Americans, we Yankees have historically been known for our ingenuity. As Browning says, “we’re now in times when we can surely appreciate . . . . habits of thrift, modesty, order, and discipline. They’re still part of our national DNA, though recessive, perhaps.”

So as I look forward to this new presidential administration, I am also looking forward to a new appreciation of classic virtues, and ways to put our knowledge, ideals, and understanding and technology to work for the common good, and commonwealth.

7 comments to A Green White House

  • Grace Peterson

    It’s true that we shouldn’t allow our “green-ness” to become a status thing. I know from personal experience that if I puff myself up for some accomplished feat, I’m simultaneously tearing down everyone else. Harmony seems like a fitting word. Harmony with nature and with humanity.

    I’m still marveling that the Obamas are planning to adopt a shelter dog. This example alone speaks volumes.

  • Pat Leuchtman

    Grace, Harmony is an excellent word and I will look for harmony in my own life as well as the life of the country. Hooray for animal shelters! We have gotten most of our animals from our local shelter.

  • Doctor Mom

    Good thoughts–thanks for sharing them!

  • Chris The Gardener

    I dunno,Victory doesn’t have to be associated with war. We could have Victory over hunger, over the recession, victory for local foods, victory for the environment. My grandmother always said that Victory Gardens were everyone doing their part to help out. It sounds live everyone helping out will be a big part of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

    But Harmony Gardens would be OK too. 🙂

  • Pat Leuchtman

    Doctor Mom – thanks for visiting.
    Chris – I like the idea of everyone doing their share – and I hope that’s what we are all going to do with President Obama.

  • Nan

    Is this where her writing may be found now? Is it online? I love her books, and I loved her House & Garden columns. I like what Chris' grandmother said. Just wonderful.

  • Commonweeder

    Nan, I’m not aware of Dominique having a regular column anywhere, but there is her book Around the House and In the Garden – available at bookstores and your local library. I do miss her and the magazine. I haven’t found her online either.

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