What does the green movement mean to you? This may seem like a silly question, but it’s a question I have been asking myself lately. There is really no rite answer to this question; it is simply a way of thinking about the hundreds of different things that have become part of the green movement and what is most important in them. An interesting experiment I did was to Google the terms green movement and my home town and sees what comes up. Here in Austin Texas this Google search brings up an interesting series of results.
The first thing that comes up is an article about a concert celebrating the green movement in Austin. If you know about Austin this makes some sense, as the self proclaimed music capital of the world we have a concert for just about everything. The sponsor of this green concert was the Yellow Bike Collective, a local group that advocates for bicyclist rites and increasing the ease of transit by bicycle around town. They are a great organization and have done good things for the local biking community here in Austin, but I don’t know that they would qualify as the epitome of the Austin green movement in my mind. While increase the number of people using bikes as a primary means of transportation does take cars of the road and decrease pollution, it is just one piece of a large puzzle.
Second on the list is the Travis Count Green Party. Clearly they should be high on the list as they appear to be leaders in the local green movement from a government standpoint. However I was disappointed when I looked at their sight and found out that none of their top three key values are related to the environment or environmental concerns. Shouldn’t this movement be about the environment more than anything else? Several of their other key values are environmentally related but are very vague on exactly what their stance is on important environmental issues. The green party seems to be taking it’s namely loosely and not sticking to a platform of environment first, more like environment fourth. While none of its key values are anti-environment, the green party is perhaps not as green as I would have liked.
All in all someone trying to find out what the green movement in Austin is all about wouldn’t get a very good picture from the first page of search results on Google. They would certainly understand that there are several local groups supporting bike transportation and delivery to reduce emissions. They will also find responses from Realtors to the recent home energy regulations put in place, most of which are critical of the city’s plan to increase energy efficiency. What does this say about our lovely little city that likes to think of itself as a haven for green living in Texas?
I think the Austin green movement is more than these search results would tell you, and I did skip over one brief article that talks about Austin as a leader in the green building sector, but the fact still remains that the information available online largely doesn’t match up with what I think of when I think of the green movement. This is a symptom of an ever increasing ambiguity in the movement and this problem is only going to get worse. With the predictions for a coming “greenconomy” and more money being pumped into anything that can spin itself as part of the green movement by the day, the race is on to get in on the green goodness.
The green movement, whatever it is, is growing. The zeitgeist of the times is more environmentally minded then anytime in recent history and it shows. I encourage you to think critically about what the green movement is, what it means, and what it should be. Let us not forget in the rush that the movement should be about the environment above everything else.