Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Am I a hypocrite?

I got a comment a few days ago (I think, I put away the blog for the weekend) basically asking me why I don't practice what I preach. In other words, I blog about sustainable communities, when I don't really live in a sustainable community.

It's a fair question, and is certainly worth a response on my part. I guess the short answer is I do live in a sustainable community. I can hit the busway with a stone from the back of my house, can get a bus to just about anywhere I need to within the city and can walk to basically everything I need (food, booze etc.) The problem is I don't WORK in a sustainable community.

I've thought a lot about my current situation and figured out that there are really four options. I tried to pick the option that is best for myself and my family while taking livability issues into account:

1. Find a better job (by that I mean, one in Pittsburgh that I could commute to via public transit). I'm constantly in the search for a better job, but the economy is not the best, and unemployment has finally begun to catch up with Pittsburgh. At this point I am glad to have a job.

2. Seek a job in a different city that would satisfy the requirements that I consider ideal(walkability, and easy access to public transit). I could probably find a job elsewhere in the country, but the fact is I am committed to living in Pittsburgh. It's important to me, and to my family that we stay here.

3. I could move closer to my job. I could cut down on my commute and save on gas, drive less and do less damage to the environment. However, I'd be moving to suburbia, and my reduced driving to work would be offset by the fact that I would have to drive to do everything else. I believe if I did this, it would make me more hypocritical than I may already be.

4. I could live in the city, but commute to work. This option represents my current arrangement, and I like to think of it as making the best of my current situation. Right now, I have to drive a lot to my place of employment, but I've tried to minimize the damage I am doing, both to myself and my environment. I drive a small car that gets 35-40 MPG (which will be replaced by a hybrid as soon as the budget allows), and I still live in the city. This means that for social events, shopping or most anything else, I can still walk or utilize public transit. This option is not perfect but allows me to stay in Pittsburgh while still having some benefits (the transit and walkability) that would not be available in a different option.

Am I a transit role model, of course not, but I think the important thing is that I try to take livability issues into account in the decisions I make. I think that is the key for us as a nation moving forward. Does everyone need to be religiously committed to moving into a T.O.D. condo or apartment complex? Of course not, but we need to start realizing that much of our suburban living is unsustainable, and for us to factor sustainability into our thought process in some manner.


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Nathan said...

Sounds like you're doing everything right on. Hopefully my previous inquiry wasn't too brash (I can tend to sound like/be a jerk at times). Who wouldve thought that in the future, that is, the year 2000 and beyond, people would live in cities and commute to work in the suburbs.

Thanks for the blogging!

East Busway Blogger said...

Thanks! No offense taken, I thought your question was fair so that's why I answered it. I answered it in a post because I quickly realized I was rambling and a 10 page comment probably wasn't the way to go.

Peg said...

It is startling to find someone trying to make such a commitment to lessen one's individual impact. I think that it's wonderful to see your passion, intellect, and thoughtfulness, all directed for the greater good.

Fabulous blog.

Best regards!