Friday, May 30, 2008
Thinking and acting green
The buzz around Carlisle is alternative energy systems and thinking green, as we try to reduce our dependency on oil.
On page 10, a dozen Carlisleans weigh in on strategies for using less gasoline in our car-dependent town. On May 15, the Mosquito’s parent organization, Carlisle Communications, Inc. (CCI) presented a panel discussion on geothermal, solar and wind systems, all alternatives that a homeowner can consider to reduce costs after an initial major investment. Audience members asked thoughtful questions of the panelists, reflecting concern over skyrocketing costs of heating and cooling our homes.
While it is more economical to install alternative energy systems in new construction, many of us live in older homes where retrofitting to accommodate a geothermal heat pump, for example, would be prohibitively expensive. And in our heavily wooded environment, solar panels and wind turbines might be impractical.
However, upgrading major appliances and heating systems that are more than ten years old to those with an energy-star rating is a step that residents in older homes can take to save energy. Fourteen years ago when we bought our Deck house, we were told that central air conditioning was impossible because the necessary ductwork was not in place. We bought three window units that were noisy and expensive to run. Fortunately, technology made strides over the last decade, and two years ago we installed ductless energy-star air-conditioning that is quiet and efficient (and that we nonetheless use sparingly).
Memorial Day has unofficially kicked off the summer season, bringing with it new opportunities for changing old habits that help the environment. Drying clothes on a clothes line, switching to energy-star qualified CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs and installing a programmable thermostat all save energy. Taking reusable bags to the super market has caught on, and some stores have stopped offering plastic bags.
In four weeks the Carlisle Farmer’s Market will open, allowing residents to once again become locavores, those who eat food grown or produced locally, thereby avoiding the high costs of transporting faraway products to your table.
Our new pathways have materialized at just the right time. A walk instead of a drive to Kimball’s or the library becomes a family outing, and children who live near the center can now walk or ride their bikes safely to school. Offsetting these environmental gains is the two-year-long repair of Flint’s Bridge on Monument Street and the resulting traffic slowdowns heading into Concord – a suggested detour via Bedford uses even more gas, which leads us right back to the high price at the pump.
The sources of the energy crisis lie beyond our control. But awareness of our daily energy consumption, staying informed through web sites and the library, and taking simple steps to curb our energy use will, over time, benefit us locally and globally.
Well, another Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone. The parade was enthusiastically engaged in; Lt. Col. Stutz’ words in Corey Auditorium were heartfelt and well-received, and the ham and bean luncheon in Union Hall was a real treat, as usual. As Doug Stevenson has stated many times, it was all about saying thank you to those who have served. But now we are faced with another Memorial Day. Tomorrow afternoon, a memorial service will be held at the First Religious Society for Phyllis Zinicola. Phyllis was a fellow Mosquito Forum writer and a neighbor. I feel I’ve gotten to know her over the years through her musings in the Mosquito on topics as diverse as supporting girls soccer, to building a stone wall, to pleading for civility in our political process, to motherhood, to taking up knitting. The Forum writers are a very talented bunch, but I must reveal my bias that Phyllis was by far my favorite. Regardless of the topic, it was always straight from the heart and always grounded in family. Her Forum article last month entitled “An Ethical Will” exemplified her groundedness and sense of humor. Reading it, one would believe she had years ahead of her rather than days. She could always make the most serious subject approachable to us with her wit and breezy style.
Her passing has caused me to stop and remember others in town who have also passed on much too soon: Rosalie Johnson, Margie McCormick, Vivian Chaput, and Lee Milliken to name a few. I am sure you will remember others as well, but these were women I knew personally, and I felt a sense of anger that they were taken away from us so early. It just seemed so totally unfair. They all had so much to live for and to give. So it is, in spades, as relates to Phyllis. She let us know her through her writings and in doing so, made the world a better place to live in. I guess, instead of feeling anger, one should feel happy to have had the benefit of her being. If you didn’t know her, you’ll get my drift by reading her self definition from a former Mosquito article:
Five-Minute Me by
Phyllis will be sorely missed. She has left us with an abundance of thoughts from a first rate mind and a loving heart. In her Forum article dated April 11, 2008, she wrote the following words of advice: “Sit longer at the table than your kids think is necessary. Show your children your love for your extended family, get together often and have fun. Listen to your kids; give yourself and your husband a hearing. Spend time with your kids – you won’t regret it, and you actually don’t know how long you’ll have each other. Politics and posturing aside, I urge mothers, if at all possible, to take full advantage of the mommy experience. My grief would be much greater now if I hadn’t been a stay-at-home parent until my youngest was in first grade at Carlisle Public School and had then discovered that my time with my children was cut short.”
“Speak your heart to the people in it.”
© 2008 The