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it’s not easy being green
the honorable task of supporting the environment
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

You’ll be happy to know this column was written on a computer powered by my foot pedal electricity generator, while I drank water from my backyard artesian well. This room, like all in the house, benefits from the soft lighting of thousands of humanly-raised fireflies.

I have a poster featuring the shadowed image of Ed Begley, Jr., crafted out of toothpicks salvaged from the finest wastebaskets this side of the Mississippi. Toothpick art is the newly-devised “Parallels in Progress” made work program for disadvantaged Aleut gymnasts in the U.S. for training. They receive a living wage comparable to the salary of a middle manager at a communications conglomerate.

The poster has multiple uses: as a sunshade in my living room, which faces southwest in the afternoon; as my yoga mat; and as a hovercraft for coasting midrange air currents when the huskies are sleeping.

Oh, right! The huskies! A team of six huskies pulls my wheeled sleigh to work each morning. So they’re not worked too hard during the daily commute, we practice a form of hypermiling by harnessing and airlifting two dogs every other mile with leashed Peregrine falcons. The falcons are not exploited: rather, this flight simulation is all part of a nature reintroduction for zoo-raised falcons.

The dogs and falcons eat gently harvested roadkill recovered by the state’s prison industry “Gobs of Jobs” program. Inmates also fabricate huts for the dogs and nesting boxes for the falcons from recycled beer box cardboard. The water supply for the dogs and birds comes from distilled squirrel urine, which is filtered through an aquifer built into three silver maples in my backyard.

In addition to the artesian well, the backyard houses my organic garden. I’ve planted heirloom seeds of vegetables and fruits familiar within the Winnebago Indian diet. This eating plan took some getting used to, as it contains a lot of beet dishes, but if I hold my nose, they aren’t too difficult to swallow. Beets are terrific filters for the organs, too. We send our overstock to nearby shelters as part of the “Lettuce Eat Well, Too” urban produce program.

The falcon waste is our garden compost. The raptors produce a surprising amount of feces, especially when their stomachs are massaged upon the rising of the new moon. We also rely on the falcons’ regurgitation pellets to burn as a heat source. One pellet lasts as long as a brick of Irish peat.

My property hosts a small but efficient wild rice marsh, too. I’ve trained a brood of muskrats to shake the rice reeds as a sowing method. Muskrats, as you know, usually tear out rice by the roots, so as a gesture of goodwill, we’ve increased the area of cattails in the marsh to provide a better habitat for these mischievous marsh rabbits.

As the muskrats age, I shave them twice annually, and ship the fur to a Sudanese independent women’s employment program. The women loom the soft and waterproof muskrat fur into rain slickers. The “Fur From Darfur” initiative, now in its fourth year, supplies outerwear for disadvantaged children in Raccoon Township, Pennsylvania, and Sandwich, Illinois.

I’ve also planted seven acres of bamboo groves. The bamboo grows at a rate of 40 feet every year, and I’m able to harvest enough each fall to produce a pliant fabric for underwear, sweaters, towels, and sheets. Most of the fabric is green in color, and as much as I hate to admit it, resembles Army fatigues. But, I’ve experimented with dyes made from crushed and steeped petunia petals, robin’s eggs, and even a few pennies soaked in vinegar.

To offset the fabric manufacturing facility, I’ve purchased enough carbon credits to reforest parts of Ordinary, Kentucky, and Gay, Georgia. In 25 years or so, both of these communities will enjoy a fine stand of timber, which can then be logged for industry.

I demolished the original house on my property and replaced it with shipping containers linked together in “small house” design. This modular structure proves to be quite versatile when guests stay, as I simply put in an acquisition for a container from the docks, and it arrives in one or two months.

It then takes another six-to-eight weeks for the homeless day laborers to assemble the solar panels and wire the container. So, certainly you understand now why I need at least three months notice of your overnight visit, but you’re always more than welcome.

Even with all this dedication to the green movement, my carbon footprint is still 11, or 42 in European measurements. But, I take fewer steps now than ever before. This raises my karmic allocation quotient to a healthy 76, placing me directly in the “better than the average American” demographic. Just imagine how different our world would be if we all aspired to be better than everyone else.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

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lucy lediaev
7.28.08 @ 4:50p

...placing me directly in the “better than the average American” demographic. Just imagine how different our world would be if we all aspired to be better than everyone else.

Ah--a new way to keep up with the Jones family--simply strive to be better than everyone else.

Tracey, you elicited some well-needed guffaws from me today. Thank you!

tracey kelley
8.4.08 @ 7:43a

All in good jest. Although someone emailed and said, "What? You don't care?"

It's satire, people.

Begley and Bill Nye the Science Guy are having a geek-off. Nye moved to Begley's neighborhood last year, and they're in competition with one another to see who can build the best "green" stuff. It's pretty funny.

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