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The politics of green

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Design + Architecture, Construction, Minnesota newsmakers Updated: February 10, 2010 - 8:17 AM

Look at this house. It's really eco-friendly, built from recycled materials. Now that you know that, are you making any assumptions about the owner and his or her political leanings?

I'll bet you are. Why? Because I drive a Prius, which means I hear a lot of cracks about "treehuggers" and what my car supposedly implies about who I vote for.

I'm not even all that green. Yes, I recycle, at home. But when I'm away from my single-sort bin, I'll toss cans and bottles into whatever trash can I can find. And our other car is a gas-guzzling '97 Cadillac that we bought secondhand from a relative (the price was right).

But I'm thinking green this week. Partly because I just wrote a story about a super-green house in Minneapolis and had to do some research. But also because of an interesting convergence of blips on my cultural radar.

First was a press release from the National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.com) quoting an industry expert who says we've reached "the tipping point" in green building, that it's now moving from custom homes to high-production homes.

If the masses are going green, that means it's no longer a "liberal" thing, right?

That's what environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo (www.dannyseo.com) thinks. "I don't agree that it [green] is a divisive topic," he said. If you asked people on the street, "Do you care about the environment?" virtually all would say they do, he predicted.

Maybe. But then came news that Rep. Michele Bachmann would not be speaking at the National Tea Party Convention (www.nationalteapartyconvention.com). What does that have to do with green? Her replacement was Steven J. Milloy, author of "Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them."

The Tea Party movement doesn't represent all conservatives, of course. Republicans for Environmental Protection (www.rep.org) has been advocating green conservatism since 1996, for example.

But clearly, green is still pushing some buttons. Do you consider yourself "green"? And do you think the label has political connotations? Let's discuss.

 

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