Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tucson, Arizona

Due to a rather serendipitous turn of events, I ended up in Tucson for the past few nights. My ridiculously awesome sister called a friend who lived in Tucson, who was not home but whose boyfriend agreed to host me on only a few hour's notice.

Grand. Just grand.

I feel a little guilty that I managed to spend nearly two days in Tucson and barely see anything. You see, it's hot here too. Yesterday while driving around at noon my car's thermometer hit 115 and my dashboard started to smoke. Turns out the sun through the windshield was starting to fry the dust that had accumulated there. At least that's what I told myself while I panicked and threw the car at the curb faster than a nun leaving a brothel. This place does not fuck around.

So I spent much of yesterday cowering in bookshops and cafes like the pale gringo that I am, missing out on the desert museum and the mission but decidedly much happier.

Last night Drew took me to a local bar for an outdoor gathering known as "green drinks." Forty or so people from the community gathered at the tables, and we all had to introduce ourselves. These are people who need six minutes and a powerpoint presentation just to explain what they do.

"Hi, I'm a contract negotiator for the U.S. green building council..."

"Hi, I'm the solar coordinator of a sustainable development research project..."

"Hi, I'm from New Jersey. I drove here in an SUV."

Frenzied whispers overtook the crowd before they formed a lynch mob, chasing me with pitchforks and torches. Just kidding.

Drew argues that the green movement has become watered down a bit, and I can see his point. Even the most ignorant observer could note the irony of attending a green meeting which uses plastic plates, cups and silverware for the food and drink.

While the green movement is undoubtedly an important one in our society, it's interesting to note how it has been co-opted by market-savvy individuals who are only trying to sell another package. Meanwhile, the whole movement requires just as much networking as anyone on Wall Street if anything is to get done. Is this where American society has come? In order to get a rather important message across you need a detailed marketing strategy as well as an army of grant writers to procure the funds?


Paul E. Shively said...


It is sad, but I too have noticed how even the groups with the highest of intentions have become just as much of a corporate culture as any Fortune 500 company. It sort of makes you question their validity. But hey, maybe I'm just jaded.

48statebus said...

"Hi, I'm from New Jersey. I drove here in an SUV."

Haha, imagine if you had said "I'm from Florida and I drove here in a 12 ton school bus" they probably would've lynched you from the nearest tree...with hemp rope of course.

Stay safe out there and don't let your dash catch on fire, do you have a map of where you're planning on going for the entire trip or are you just winging it as you go?

Dad said...

Well, as I told you, there's not much in Tucson besides alot of cactus and the desert all around it. Anything built before 1930 qualifies as an historic building and there aren't even many of those beyond the Fox Theater and the Congress Hotel. (But the Cup Cafe in the hotel is a pretty good place for breakfast.) And I'll put in a plug for the Arizona Star where my friend, Ailim, works.
Stay cool. I bet the ocean in Oregon is looking pretty good about now.

Scotticus said...

I have a vague sense of where I want to go but a lot of it is based on where I can find couches to surf.

Kirsten said...

I read this article in the St. Paul Legal Ledger, "'Green' Wal-Mart: Does it have to be an oxymoron?" and thought it was worth mentioning in your blog since you've written about Wal-Mart and green building. While I agree with the official from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that we should recognize its efforts, rather than ignore a company as big as Wal-Mart, as a planner and community developer, I'm glad to see that someone is finally addressing the issue of land use. "Green" buildings are a big step in the right direction, but if we plop them down on the suburban or exurban frindge, as Wal-Mart does, are the negative effects of increased fuel consumption or surface and groundwater degradation worse than if we had built a "conventional" building on an infill site accessible by alternative forms of transportation? I'm reminded of driving through Lewiston, Maine and Dad's comments about how Wal-Mart could have done the right thing by building its store in one of the abandoned mill buildings in or near downtown, instead of on the fringe of Lewiston.
Anyway, I wonder what Drew, as an architect, or anyone else, thinks of this article.

Amy said...

Oh I wish I could have been there when you told them you drove there in an SUV from NJ! "And here's my friend Amy. She currently doesn't have a job and she just came for the free food and she didn't have anything better to do for the summer." :)