Friday, April 24, 2009

Being Green in a Red State

Instead of talking about Rick Perry's (somewhat stammering) declaration of the desire to secede, I'm going to talk about riding a bike. And walking. And recycling.

Holding Ithaca near and dear to my heart... I try to help the environment. Now, when I lived in Ithaca, I was never what anyone there would call "green". I fell somewhere in the middle of people driving SUVs less than a mile to class everyday and environmental club members with their own organic gardens. Not to say some of my dearest friends didn't belong to those groups. But, I wasn't necessarily green.

When I bought my Vespa in July, my Texas friends were shocked. Amidst the teasing for driving a scooter around all day, I got 75 MPG when gas was almost $5. Always a frugal girl, I can take a little flack in exchange for saving a few bucks. I was also instantly known as the greenest person in the office.

Since then, I've taken on such other shocking habits as:
  • Recycling
  • Walking places
  • Buying local
  • Cooking for myself
  • Using the word "organic"
My most recent development has been (are you ready for this?) riding my bike to work. It's a scant 3 miles, something Ithacans don't bat an eye at. In Texas, the very fact that I don't valet when I get to work is stunning. I get weird looks when I'm tooling along Swiss Avenue and shocked looks from the nearby construction sites as I coast down the streets.

Oh well, I guess it just reinforces that whole earth mother, granola thing I've got going on. Then again, that's pretty much how all of us northerners are viewed down here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Relections on a Tea Party

This blog has always been about the culture shock I experienced when moving from the Northeast to good ol' Texas. In a presidential election year, I moved from Ithaca, New York, easily one of the most liberal places in the country, to Texas, easily one of the most conservative. I've gotten into political "discussions" ("fights" just sounds bad) in bars, at work and among friends. With these discussions has not only come a lot of ranting and raving, but an opening of my eyes to the incredibly varied beliefs of others.

Yesterday, "Tea Parties" swept the nation as conservatives fought against higher taxes and, by extension, President Obama. Protests ranged from justified anger at the current economy to outright racism. Twitter showed both sides - the tag #teaparty for supporters and #teabagger for those opposed. Before I start ranting and raving again, let me enumerate some basic truths:
  1. Most people believe it's their way or the highway. I've seldom agreed with my conservative family (sorry Gramps!) and often find it impossible to understand their perspective.
  2. People love to complain.
  3. People love to think that these complaints are going to change the world. Don't believe me? Watch any political "news" show on television. I can't anymore.
Thus, we have ourselves a Tea Party. A rebellion against perceived injustices, a tradition begun over 200 years ago.

And I'm fine with it. The Constitution, which we have spent the past 8 years trying to defend, guarantees the right to assemble. The right to carry Confederate Flags (as much as they stand for evil, prejudiced things), the right to voice dissent against the President (no longer do the Alien and Sedition acts stand, sorry) and the right to moan, whine and complain about things that you may not understand.

Fellow liberals, dissenters and others: please stop your insults and degradation against those who simply needed to let off steam. 4 years ago, they were calling us "liberal hippies" and dismissing us as we are dismissing them. Intolerance begets intolerance, and that's just not what we need right now. Let them cry, let them complain. Maybe once that's over, we can begin the process of learning how to work together again to solve all the real problems out there.

And I just found out that the Governor of Texas wants to secede. I think this blog's back in action.