Letters to the Editor
BEFORE YOU GO GREEN
I was very happy to be included in your March “Green by Design” article showcasing green homes, green professionals, and green philosophies. Virginia Wright has written a great article. I did, however, want to clarify a statement she made about me imagining the day when the many products containing the chemical urea formaldehyde will be banned from new construction and yanked out of old buildings.
I do imagine the products being banned, but I don’t think they will be yanked from existing buildings, nor do I think this would be entirely appropriate (unless a building’s new occupant is highly chemically sensitive). As a home ages, the threat of toxic out-gassing of materials decreases and the act of demolishing these materials in older homes could be more harmful than leaving them alone and could in many cases be very costly. Added urea formaldehyde is kind of like the pink packets of sugar substitute that are on the table of every restaurant. It says right on the packet that it contains a chemical known to cause cancer in test animals. Yet, they sit there on the table, presumably being used by somebody. But my point is that if you went to buy your sheathing or cabinets or composite doors and the ones with added urea formaldehyde had a huge pink label that said: “This product contains added urea formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer, skin irritation, and respiratory diseases,” you’d probably purchase the products that didn’t have the label.
MORE GOOD LIVES
March was a great issue — from power lines underground to confessions of an L.L. Bean shoplifter. I particularly enjoyed “Good Lives: A Selected History of Sustainability in Maine” by Joshua F. Moore. However, I would like to submit an addition to the impressive long list of local milestones in green living. Over twenty years ago, Phil Conkling led the charge to establish the Island Institute, a truly remarkable achievement. One could argue that its mission embraces the broadest definition of sustainability, including natural, economic, and social. The Island Institute is a state and national treasure, a landmark standard in the sustainability movement.
—Stuart O. Dawson
It was wonderful to see so much of your March issue devoted to being green. But I was surprised to see one of the state’s most important players missing. The Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset has been nurturing environmental stewards since 1915, when it opened its saltwater camp for boys. It became a nonprofit in 1962 and since then has set — and continuously raised — the bar in Maine for sustainability and environmental education. The Chewonki campus is home to a first-of-its kind renewable hydrogen system; it started making and using biodiesel before most people had heard of the stuff. It even raises much of the food the staff and students consume right there on the property. The campus is an inspiring model of wise resource consumption and renewable energy technology. Chewonki is a truly exceptional institution that has continually modeled responsible choices for students and the citizens of Maine.
I must say I felt sorry for Peter Zinn, the author of “Redemption Wear,” in your March issue. For more than thirty years I have happily done business with L.L. Bean, and for good reason. When I retired, I traded my professional wardrobe for the L.L. Bean country casual look — one of the blessings of retirement. I cannot imagine not being able to do business with this wonderful American company. Perhaps the good people at Bean will forgive the shoplifting of a young boy and let him come back into their wonderful world.
WHERE IN MAINE?
Having just returned home after a two hour cross-country ski trek through Laudholm Farm in Wells, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to look at the copy of Down East that I had picked out of our mailbox. Of course, I immediately recognized the Lord farmhouse in the March “Where in Maine?” photograph. The feature echoed my thoughts of the previous couple of hours: how glad I was that a group of folks had the foresight to save this magnificent piece of property from the hands of developers. Now so many can enjoy all of its wonders. As I was skiing quietly through the trails, I was recalling when Mary Lord would drive some of us children from the farm down to the beach on the old cart path. Now I and anyone else can ski, snowshoe, or walk these trails, and for this I am thankful for the people who put forth the effort to save Laudholm Farm.
Many people who read your March “Talk of Maine” story about the Maine Green Independent Party feel that you gave the impression that members over forty years of age are rare in this political party. Therefore, I wish to clarify that I am seventy-eight years of age and have been a party member for about fifteen years. I have been its treasurer and have run for the House of Representatives as a Green at age seventy, but closer to seventy-one. I remain active in the party serving on the Issues Committee and seeking out legislation that either agrees with or conflicts with the party’s Ten Key Values. I work for and donate to Green candidates in Maine and elsewhere in the U.S.
It is my hope and ambition to see the Maine Green Independent Party and all the Green parties globally grow year by year. Change happens slowly, but I believe it is inevitable that the Green Party will one day be a force to reckon with.
West Gardiner, Maine