The House We Live In: A Series on Building the Sustainable Home in Tucson, Arizona
I spent the weekend at the Women’s March on Washington. I had a pink hat that a friend had contributed, and I put it on in the airport. When I started in Tucson, I was the only one. During my layover in Chicago, I spotted my first fellow marcher. By the time we boarded the plane to D.C., it seemed like half the passengers had these hats on. It was Inauguration Day; most of the people traveling to D.C. were going for the march, not the inauguration, which was underway as we flew. That is a comfortable place to be.
The march was also a comfortable place to be, in a lot of ways. It may have been cold and crowded, but there was a general sense of agreement. The train to the march was full of people singing. The train home was full of people with damp, tattered protest signs. But when my friend and I got off the train in Alexandria and went to dinner, we started seeing Trump supporters. They were wearing their hats and buying the souvenirs. It was a bit of a shock, after seeing half a million people in the streets, to remember that all debates about exact numbers aside, close to half the country doesn’t agree.
Tucson feels like a safe place to be, along these lines. Especially central Tucson, near the University and downtown, most people immediately see the value in working to conserve, in rights and social justice. But there were people out there carrying signs that just said Science. Because we actually need those signs, which is something I continue to struggle with absorbing. It is something about which people disagree, which means that I am taking the actions I am taking not out of a consensus that they are valuable, but out of conviction. It isn’t really something I ever thought I’d have to say.
One of the lovely women who hosted me this weekend told me about a house in her Alexandria neighborhood that had been re-done from the ground up to incorporate green and efficient features. “They’re always giving people tours,” she said. “It seems like every weekend they’re taking someone else through.” And that’s part of why we do this–for education. To prove that it’s possible. To inspire other people to do it, when we who choose to are not the ones with the nominal power.
Amy Knight is the fiction editor for Terrain.org. In this weekly series, she chronicles the process of designing and building an eco-friendly house in Tucson, Arizona. The series will explore both how it’s done and what it means, from the perspective of someone who wants to do the right thing but knows almost nothing about sustainable building. Look for new posts every Monday. You can email Amy at email@example.com or leave a comment here. Visit her website, or follow her on twitter @amypknight.
Photo of protesters by Elizabeth Knight. Photo of Amy Knight by Richard Whitmer.