|Vol. 8 No. 8
APRIL 18, 2013
Publisher & Editor
Clarita G. Mendoza
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Rebecca Her, Heidi
Pascual, & Martinez White
Let’s Go Green Together
Back when I was a kid growing up in a west suburb of Milwaukee in the 1950s, the subdivision was just
beginning to have homes pop up all around as the post-World War II economic surge began. And our trips to
our grandfather’s farm in Dousman, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee, seemed to be a trip to the
wilderness with old country lanes, family farms all around and the smell of manure in the air.
But my how things have changed. The Milwaukee suburbs seem to stretch all the way to Pewaukee these
days and some of those family farms in Dousman have been replaced by million dollar homes.
There’s a reason for all this growth. Back in 1950, just before I was born, there were 3.4 million people living
in Wisconsin. Now, as of 2010, there are 5.8 million, an increase of 2.4 million people.
When I first came to Madison as a student at the University of Wisconsin back in 1970, we could ride our
bikes from campus and be in rural Dane County the moment we crossed under the Beltline and West Towne
was surrounded by farm fields. We could swim in Lake Mendota off the pier at the UW-Madison Lakeshore
dorms without getting anything yucky on us. My how things have changed.
Even though Wisconsin’s population has increased by 71 percent during my lifetime, the last time I checked,
the supply of water that is available to us has remained unchanged. And the amount of available landfill
within reasonable driving distance where our garbage goes has been reduced significantly. And as I gaze
out at the sky on a summer night, I feel lucky to be able to discern one constellation and maybe the North
Star — would Harriet Tubman have lost her way if she lived today — through the glare of the city lights
illuminating the smog. My how things have changed.
With the increase in people and technology has come a dramatic increase in our use of energy. I have now
become addicted to my smart phone, my computers, my flat-screen television, my microwave, my washer
and dryer, my treadmill and of course my car that I drive constantly all over town in pursuit of my individual
agenda. And of course, there is all of that fast-food that I devour while I am on the run, discarding paper
and plastic with every meal. I know that I am using a whole lot more energy than I did when I was a child.
My how things have changed.
Now as someone who has just turned the other side of 60 years-old, all of this energy consumption and all
of this waste and all of this pollution and the resulting climate change as the world’s temperature rises
probably won’t affect me too much in my lifetime. Or will it? The vast change in weather from one year to
the next seems to be something that I didn’t experience as a kid. And as the oil reserves of the world begin
to be exhausted, it will take a big piece out of my budget.
So for the sake of our annual budgets and future generations, we have to start getting greener. And going
green means for all of us, going back, in some ways, to our cultural roots. I do want to keep my technology,
but I really need to turn off and unplug my gadgets when they aren’t in use.
Fruit and vegetables are really good for us, giving us many of the nutrients that we need to live healthy and
active lives. On a summer’s day, I enjoy stopping at the South Madison Farmers Market to pick up fresh and
organic fruit and vegetables that I can cook at home. If I could, I would also grow my own. Not only is it
cheaper, but it also eliminates the gas usage and smog that it takes to transport the fruit and vegetables
At home, I do have my recycling trash can as well as a paper bag where I place all of my folded up papers
and cardboard. I try to recycle at least as much stuff as I throw away in the trash. But I could probably do a
better job by reading about all of the things that I can recycle.
One local effort that has made me more conscious about my carbon footprint and what I can do to reduce
my energy consumption is The New Green Challenge. Since last October, Annette Miller, Mario Garcia Sierra
and others from MG&E have been meeting monthly with 12 African American and Latino households to
explore and learn about ways they can reduce their carbon footprints. During the past two months, The
Capital City Hues has featured four of those households and their efforts to Go Green.
On April 20, Earth Day, those families will be letting other people know what they’ve learned as a part of the
Isthmus Green Day at Monona Terrace. At 1:30 p.m., they will be giving a presentation and there will be a
booth there all day showing what they’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot and been reminded of more Green
things that I can do by writing their stories. There is even more to learn by talking to them in person at the
Isthmus Green Day celebration.
The New Green Challenge, in many ways, has been about reawakening the self-sufficiency and
preservation elements in African American and Latino culture. It’s important for us all to go back to our Roots
in order to preserve our environment and resources for the future. This effort will take the commitment of all
of us. Let’s Go Green Together!