Wednesday, February 25, 2009

green crusaders v. the whippersnappers

For better or worse, I'm a suggestible reed--Obama's talk of subsidy cuts to big agribusiness buoys the spirits, pretty lil pictures of babies cheer me, even just witness to folks on Facebook rallying around an old comrade who's lost her dog warms the deepest parts of my heart--all sorts of thing restore my faith in human beings, and I'm glad for that.

But sometimes people are stinkers. And when these stinkers threaten to get in the way of the good my tribe is trying to do, I get this crazy aggression, like goodwill infected with zealotry. It's ugly.

Let me tell you about Green Earth Guide: Traveling Naturally in France. The author Dorian Yates, the delightful, kind, industrious sort you'd find calming your anxieties over a chilled bottle of Beaujolais at the corner café, has developed a series of travel guides intended not only to direct readers around town, but do it in a way that kicks up as little pollution as possible.

It's all in the book: finding local and organic foods, supporting ecological businesses, the ins and outs of public transport, green places of interest, the whole conscientious shebang. Yates writes about strides various cities have taken to green themselves, among them Paris and Montpellier for their public bicycle systems.

Shortly before I sent this handy reference to press, I read about all the rat-youth vandalizing the bikes, taking them on joyrides and documenting it on YouTube (here's a mild one). Admittedly, in my dumb youth, such stunts would have been hilarious. No more! Yes, even my use of the word "stunts" reflects a certain stodgy intolerance. I see that. But mindful that these weak vaunts at thuggery may bring the system to its knees, I find myself categorically humorless about it. How I wish I were sipping my trifásico with Dorian in a Barcelona plaça where she's researching the next in the series.

I'm sure she'd have something wise to say about our planet and those damn kids today.