It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

This week over 1 billion people in 192 countries will celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day.  The City of Auburn Hills will do so this Friday as described in Brian Marzolf’s blog – Begin by Planting a Tree.  This is an important time of remembrance.

Many may not know that the idea of “Earth Day” came from Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.  After witnessing the devastation caused by the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Mr. Nelson felt something had to be done to raise awareness about how humans were negatively affecting the environment.   However, the bigger message that has grown out of this movement is that the earth is not disposable and that we have to think differently long-term.   In a nut shell, those living today have a responsibility to future generations to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Most people are finding that it is not easy to be green.  It often costs more money, time, and commitment than conventional practices.  In America, as a society we focus on the bottom line – the immediate situation – and find such proactive action as inefficient.

To make matters worse, many governments and companies pay lip service to the movement and participate in “green washing.”  They deceptively act like they are environmentally friendly which makes legitimate efforts by serious players, like those conducted by the Auburn Hills’ team, look like a fad.

Well, anything worth doing will cost money, time, and commitment.   We all must look beyond the immediate and envision the long-term.   The City of Auburn Hills has worked hard to “think ahead” about what type of community it wants to be when it grows up.   As a community, we have also decided that we can make a difference not only locally, but nationally.   Auburn Hills is proactive … it is in our DNA.

It is no coincidence that open space, wetlands, and trees are preserved here; the Clinton River is fishable; a series of beautiful parks have been created; recycling is encouraged; developers are asked to construct sustainable buildings; trees are planted annually; City facilities are retrofitted to become more energy-efficient; and that Michigan’s electric vehicle readiness movement started here.  These things did not happen by accident.

So, this Earth Day we remember the achievements of the past, understand that more needs to be done, and reaffirm our committment to continue the noble journey.

It ain’t easy being green, but it is worth it.