Housing problem as spiritual problem III: Earthcare

The San Francisco Chronicle today had a story, "Central Valley housing boom plays role in the big heat, experts say/Larger new homes also increase state's demand for energy" by Patrick Hoge.

California's growth patterns -- the migration to hot inland regions, construction of big new homes and paving of open space -- are contributing both to increasing temperatures and record demand for electricity.

Experts say development choices can play a large role in making hot weather even hotter.

"People usually talk of greenhouse gases. What's forgotten is what we've actually done to the surface of the planet," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

"I call it extreme makeover warming."

Full story here.

I've posted about related matters before, here and here.

As an apartment dweller in urban San Francisco, I wonder how our family could have a smaller footprint on the earth. And yet the fact is, by choosing to live here, we've already reduced our footprint signficantly. Have we sacrificed enough? Maybe not, but we've done part of our share.
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The boys and I had a tremendous time last Sunday afternoon, tramping around in the none-too-wild environs of McCoppin Square (here are the trees and here is the playground) and the corner of Lincoln High School. I've been inspired by Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He talks about the importance of open space that has a variety of terrain, from grass to bushes to trees. That's exactly how McCoppin is designed, and I'm grateful to live so close to it.

Plus this added bonus feature: The local branch library is located in one corner of the park. How cool is that?!? Shoutouts to my big sister the librarian and to Aj!)
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I have a note to myself to write a blog entry about all the time the boys and I spent playing tag or "crack the whip" on the big lawn at Pacific Lutheran University during FGC Gathering. Running barefoot on the grass was also inspired by Louv's book. Anyway, I may not get to writing a full post, so I'll just say that these young Friends had a great time playing with my boys (one of them visible in that shot) and a few other kids, after the kids had been tossing ice around following the big picnic dinner on the lawn. It was a beautiful evening, in all ways. (Thank you, Lord, for most this amazing day.)
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Sue McAllister quoted me in the San Jose Mercury News last week, in a story about how the Bay Area is not producing enough new homes for the people who live here. I was talking about the positive efforts happening in San Mateo County, where I work. The Merc article is here, though you may have to register to read it.

Maybe I should start a housing-related blog, "Where Canst Thou Live?"
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If you're a registered voter in California, in November you must vote YES on Proposition 1c, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006. Last coy hyperlink here.


Liz in the Mist said...

Interested to hear more about Last Child in the Woods. Saw it in a book store, and was intersted (but knew I could buy it online from amazon for cheaper).

Anonymous said...

A park *and* a library?!! What a dream!

Thanks for posting the article about big houses increasing heat and electricity: we just don't think about the effects of our actions. I've been reading "The Not So Big House" (which alas does not mean Not So Expensive) and really appreciated their intentionality in conserving space: quality over quantity.

Ps. Ever since your son shared his magenta hat with my son, my son can't get enough of hats! I think he needed someone to show him how to wear them properly. :)

Chris M. said...

Aj: Yep, a park and a library. What can I say, we are blessed.

So glad the hat came in handy. :)

Chris M.

ef said...

Just have to make my plug for buying books from independent bookstores instead of amazon.com, even though it's "cheaper" (most of them can even mail you stuff, if you don't have one in your town)

I blogged about it a while ago:


I'm actually reading "Last Child in the Woods" right now - I'm on the second chapter or something.

(by the way, I got it out of the library, which is a great community institution - especially when by a park! - and helps ease the expense of buying what books I do from independents.)

It looks to be a really good book. Though I don't have kids, I am interested in how to raise them when I do, and also in how my "nature deficit" affects my own life.