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Green By Design

“The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals of American society.”.                           – Robert F Kennedy

By LAURIE GOURLAY

Jack Anderson, Green Homes, Environment, Cedar

Jack Anderson, Green home designer

There’s this guy I know. Could be my twin except he’s more handsome, more smarter, more successful at running his green business.
And if he wasn’t so darn good I’d hate him. But what can you say about a guy who does what he loves, and helps save the world one home at a time? It bugs me that he’s right. “Build the examples, one by one”, he says. “Show how individuals can live in homes and run businesses that balance ecological and economic needs – that don’t cost more but are in sync with the land, water and community.”
Be patient, and pay attention to details, in other words. Consider what fits the needs of each homeowner, and then design with every green feature that blends into their vision and personal style. “Make ‘em proud to be living in a home that fulfills their dreams, is nature-friendly and makes everyone else jealous!”
I can relate to that, I guess. It just takes longer than my approach. Not that I’m wrong mind you. Nosirree Bob. Just that Jack is more right, and that irks.  And his name bugs me too, Jack. Like he’s got the male franchise on my beautiful life-partner’s name – Jackie. At first, in my mind I had to call him Greenplan Jack, and the wee wifie Greenthumb Jackie. But then he went back to school and became a perm culture specialist, and now he teaches and designs perm culture gardens. You know, edible landscaping, native-plant cultivation, taking into account organic, low-maintenance, and maximum food production.
I’ll give him this though, if it weren’t for him, and some other brave souls, our official community plan wouldn’t have half the considerations for meeting future sustainability and stewardship needs. He and a dozen other citizen’s committee masochists sat through two and a half years of meetings. Ever polite Jack firmly raising attention to the bigger picture, drawing from his previous life as a planner with the Regional District of Nanaimo, and making reasonable and innovative suggestions for how to implement sustainable growth and development within the local region’s carrying capacity and resources.

Patient. Did I mention how patient he is? Even puts up with my rants. Nods as if I’m making sense, and then offers a reasonable explanation for the querulous rules of bureaucrats and questionable behaviour of politicians alike. Out there on his new greenplan.ca website, with his neighbourhood planning and healthy community integration of urban and sustainable infrastructure …putting the building blocks of transportation and public health and ecological site development into place so that green buildings and gardens can be shared …and benefit everyone. Like, is he the Renaissance man of the 21st century.

He gets all keen too, when you hear him talk at a meeting, or give a speech at a conference. All excited about encouraging communities that are leaders in energy, water, and resource efficiency. Y’know, “where a range of mixed-use residential and commercial spaces can attract and support all members of the community.” Sometimes I’m tempted to jump up from the back of the hall and tell him he’s not human.
He’ll walk you through his own house, where he regularly offers public tours to demonstrate the actual application of these green designs. And he’ll sit patiently, listening to all your questions about whether renewable energy, passive solar, rainwater harvesting and grey water recovery really work.  And then Jack’ll patiently explain how to design a home that will use less energy, water, and natural resources; will create less waste; will maximize food production based on your family’s lifestyle; and, will also be a healthy environment in which to live …within your budget.

Anderson of Anderson’s GreenPlan. “Just Jack”, to anyone he talks with. If I had to I guess I’d recommend him to anyone who wants to live an exemplary life, or even a half-decent one, y’know put your ideals of being an upstanding member of the community and living with nature into practice.

But I won’t join his fan club. Not until I find a crack in his veneer, not until he reveals his Plan B for the planet …when he admits that all my ranting about the sky being about to fall may have at least a smidgen of truth. Perfection’s not my long suit, and I’m innately suspicious of any who are.  I mean who can believe a guy who’s saying you can have fun, live your life, eat your cake, and care for the Earth too. And you can afford to live a perfect life. No sacrifices, beating yourself with a stick, or Spartan existence of a monk required. Jack makes a good argument for how it’s not difficult, or costly, or complicated, to live a good life.

Like I said, he bugs me.
Laurie Gourlay has worked with environmental groups for thirty years, farms 20 acres organically on Vancouver Island with life-partner Jackie Moad, and occasionally pulls out his hair and wrings his hands over teasers posed to Thistle Consulting Services, whilst actively seeking local solutions to global challenges.

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About the author: Laurie Gourlay

Laurie loves organic farming.

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