Caring about the environment is patriotic.
July 23rd, 2012
Can our cities save us? That was the topic of my most recent Huffington Post column, which discussed the rise of cities and the striving to make them sustainable, and which was largely influenced by our month-long stay in Bend, Oregon, this past spring. (I’ve been wanting to write about our trip for some time; sorry for the delay!)
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and miles of wilderness, Bend certainly isn’t a city in the concrete jungle sense, nor does it have the population heft of a megacity like Los Angeles (or even a smaller city like Portland). But it is a city: self-contained, densely populated in many areas, and largely reliant on its local economy. Bend is also a true vision for America’s future; a model for how we can reshape the landscape away from suburban sprawl and toward small, sustainable cities. Take a look:
The super cool eco-modern home we rented from Lavabelles Vacation Rentals (adorable eco toddler not included)
Folks kayaking down the sparkling Deschutes River, which runs through the city (in the lazy days of summer — i.e., now! — a favorite pastime is floating down the river in tubes)
Looking down on the city from Pilot Butte State Park
Homemade organic yogurt, granola, and ocean rolls at The Sparrow Bakery
People cycle everywhere; even the bread is delivered by bike
Our hard-earned post-hike refreshment, taken to-go from 10 Barrel Brewing in a refillable growler (there are 10 local craft breweries)
Another in-city trail (this one leads to one of Bend’s ubiquitous playgrounds)
Our next-door chicken
The people-powered Cycle Pub
A local/organic produce stand within walking distance of our house
Purchased there: locally grown asparagus and chard
Can we move here, please?
Oh, and lest you think Bend is some hippy dippy environmentalist mecca that could never exist in the real America, you couldn’t be more wrong: When I would ask locals we met about everyday life there, they almost always remarked on how conservative the town actually is. (“If you want liberal, go to Portland or Eugene,” went the refrain.) Conservative — as in, to conserve. Which, by the way, is something that 4 in 5 Americans believe is patriotic to do, according to a new poll.