It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Eco-terror hits the wrong target

I'm not a fan of eco-terror. In fact, I think it is a very ineffective form of protest and gives environmentalists a bad name.

For example, take the latest from radical enviro group, Earth Liberation Front, or ELF. ELF took credit for torching a couple of multi-million dollar homes in Woodinville, WA. Their spray painted message was, "Built Green? Nope black!" The destruction was reportedly intended to dispute the green claims of the expensive houses.

The houses, I'm guessing, were specifically targeted because they're part of "Street of Dreams" - an annual event where high end show-homes are built, furnished, toured by the public, then sold to rich people. (No one was living in these houses at the time because they were still on display.)

Now, I'll be the first to slam McMansions, irresponsible development and sprawl (as I have before in this blog). But I completely disagree with the ELF strategy in destroying this development because it isn't green enough or because the houses were encroaching on wetlands. If anything the developer should be praised for using and featuring green building techniques such as pervious sidewalk materials and supplies made with recycled content. Houses are constructed every day with zero regard to green building (I have no doubt there are many going up just down the street.) But these Street of Dream homes actually had green elements.

I grew up not far from Woodinville. Back in the day it was a few modest neighborhoods, a couple of restaurants and a big ol' nursery called Molbaks situated among a whole bunch of trees and empty acreage. Now there are big box stores, a multi-plex movie theater, many more neighborhoods, and a whole bunch of Starbucks (and Tully's.) Molbaks is still there, but the trees are long gone.

The Street of Dreams mansions are really just a byproduct - and now casualty - of this larger development. The ELF doesn't seem to care about the severe expansion of the Microsoft compound in nearby Redmond (which incidentally is a major contributing factor of the influx of new money in the area.) And they don't seem to care about the mini-McMansions and cookie cutter developments on the other side of Redmond, in Issaquah - a much grander slaughter of the tree-scape, with more roads built, more stores and parking lots built, and more sub-developments built than in Woodinville. (That's just my observational opinion, you'd have to check with the King County planning department for real numbers there.)

Unfortunately most of America is made up of car friendly, development hungry, individuals who all want their own piece of the pie. The public process seldom rules in favor of small growth or even smart growth. Battling this system isn't easy, but it surely won't be won by torching big houses. It is going to be won through educating developers and planners and those making the decisions about building better, building smarter and building greener.

(The photo above is from the AP article.)


  • I saw that story Amy. Do you think perpetrators of actions like this are (a) greenies who think this is the most effective way to change things and are prepared to do what it takes - or (b) violent hoons who just want to burn stuff and latch onto environmental concerns as a convenient justification for their otherwise unjustifiable and antisocial acts?

    I reckon (b).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23:30  

  • Well said.

    Violence never solved anything. And it only brings about more violence. If anything, these eco-terrorists are just terrorists trying to justify their actions, which they are doing because they are bored.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:38  

  • It makes me sad, seeing anytime of terrorism, whatever form, take place. Too bad it was done like this...for green.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23:03  

  • Geez- as if it could ever be green to burn something down, not to mention spray paint itself is super toxic too! Once something is built it is far greener to just use what is there. The concept of violent displays has never worked, and never will- the masses will always have a natural aversion to acts of violence, especially when the violence leads to nothing but more garbage for the landfill.

    By Blogger Miss Voodoo, at 11:18  

  • Why are Americans SO gullible? Must we always accept the pablum fed to us by the media? For example, considering the current housing market bust, has anyone even considered the DEVELOPER as the perpetrator? What is his/her financial standing? How much insurance is he set to receive. How much does he owe? Etc...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26  

  • I really do not understand why this group would believe that these actions would benefit their cause or anything else. I agree that people should be more aware of building appropriately for the environment but I do not think that buring houses is going to reach people in a positive way. They are choosing to portray themselves as criminals even though their thoughts behind the acts are positive. There are so many other things that can be done. Also, it was a very interesting to point out that this community of houses was attempting to be "green." You have to start somewhere and doing a little is better than doing nothing at all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23:14  

  • Hey thanks for the great blog, I love this stuff. I don’t usually do much for Earth Day but with everyone going green these days, I thought I’d try to do my part.

    I am trying to find easy, simple things I can do to help stop global warming (I don’t plan on buying a hybrid). Has anyone seen that is promoting their Earth Day (month) challenge, with the goal to get 1 million people to take their carbon footprint test in April? I took the test, it was easy and only took me about 2 minutes and I am planning on lowering my score with some of their tips.

    I am looking for more easy fun stuff to do. If you know of any other sites worth my time let me know.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:35  

  • I agree with this post directly, i think this kind of protest is a testent to the absolute desperation people feel about their enviornment, and its very hard to be taken seriously when these sorts of things are done.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08:56  

  • I agree. I don't think torching houses brings about sympathy or interest in the groups that perpetrate it. As you say, the builders should be recognized for incorporating green elements. ELF could have brought attention to the issue of large houses not being green in a more effective manner with banners, protest during the display.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18:16  

  • um....not to mention the POLLUTION caused by burning them...nothing like shooting yourself in the foot!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 00:47  

  • These ELF and ALF persons are not heros their terrorists and crinimals any journalists or politician who praises them should be ashamed they should be tracked down and given 25 years in federal prison and besides how much polution are these jerks putting into the air?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22  

  • So how much smoke was put in the air by this act of stupdidy dont these cowards ever stop to think that these smoke its cuasing ill health this is a act of cowards and jerks

    By Anonymous Bird of Paradise, at 12:08  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13:04  

  • I agree with ye, Amy. Eco-terrorists give environmentalists and even good old-fashioned hippies a bad name. "Built green? Nope black!"? Too bad they didn't have a grammer-check app for their spray-paint cans...


    By Anonymous Floyd Robinson, at 19:10  

  • The Street of Dream homes should become an example for the other buildings today.There is a need to step up and start recycling and get greener.

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