Earth Day in Da 'Hood

Illustration for article titled Earth Day in Da 'Hood

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: When you live in the 'hood, "environmentalism" means urinating outside. It's not about separating your plastics and paper or whatever. Often, it's about figuring out how to "recycle" the copper plumbing from the abandominum across the street for some grocery money. Poor people live in the now. People like me.


I live, maybe, a street over from the 'hood in a neighborhood gentrified with architects, CPAs and writers (me). I'm probably a suburbanite by definition but I still got 'hood ways. I don't pee outside (often) but I could give a wit about the environment. When Crash, the neighbor dog, comes down the way and drops two half-pounders on my porch, I flick them back into his yard — that's my contribution to the movement. I know I talked about gardening, but even that was for practicality's sake. Truth to tell, I'm too busy trying to survive to spend any time worrying about the environment. Flicking turds into my neighbor's grass is about as environmental as I can afford to get. I'm not proud of that. It just is what it is. Maybe once I start eating right again, I'll plant a tree.

Earth Day, my ass. Like alot of poor folks, I'm just trying to keep the light bill paid. I know my apathy is a problem. But I don't know what to do about it.

DISCLOSURE: I doubt that anyone would say I'm living in poverty. I do OK. But I'm definitely broke. That, and I come from 'hoodstock, so when you're broke, it's not about sustaining the environment. It's about staying alive in the moment. That's the way I wa raised. I've always looked at environmentalism as middle-class folly, but I understand why it's important. We want our kids to have a better world, or whatever, and I get it.

But the question becomes as more poeple lose jobs and fall off, how do you make Earth Day and "green living" relevant and important to poor people as well as folks in the 'hood?

Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper