Monk or hedonist? Neither

Around this time a year ago, I took a lot of heat for the CN&R’s endorsements for City Council. We gave the nod to Scott Gruendl, Mary Flynn and Mark Sorensen—two from the “progressive field,” one off the “conservative slate.” The fact that this week’s story on council rookies includes Tom Nickell, not Sorensen, shows what the majority of voters thought about that call.

Still, that endorsement illustrates a core belief: Rarely are absolutes absolutely right.

I’ve been taking a little heat for a different decision, this one personal. After carefully weighing all the pros and cons, my wife and I are buying a house outside of Chico.

“My piece of Paradise”—both the column and the property—got the local blogosphere buzzing and brought in some intense e-mails and comments. I know at least one Chico builder wonders if I was of sound mind when I signed the offer sheet.

To summarize, as “a torch bearer for the local left” (in one blogger’s estimation anyway), “Evan Almighty,” aka “Baron von Tuchinsky,” is a case study in home-buying to some people and hypocritical to others, in light of “this sustainable thing the paper has taken on” that’s “downright preachy, frankly.”

I knew there’d be fallout, but I’m an open person—too open for some (see: Letters). I’m not into secrecy. I’ve shared my news with friends and acquaintances, including a councilman’s daughter who thought it would make for a good column. I do happen to relay personal experiences here from time to time …

Like, say, right now.

At the awards dinner for This Way to Sustainability last Friday (Nov. 2), I marveled at how easy it is to poke holes in even the noblest of notions. Were I cynical or sanctimonious, it would have bothered me that Chico State served meat (unsustainable to some) and raffled off wrapped, packaged items. Should a few quibbles trump everything that made the event guest-friendly and eco-friendly?

Then this thought came to me: Just because a man isn’t a monk doesn’t mean he’s a hedonist.

All or nothing usually leads to nothing. So every step in the right direction is better than entropy. “This Way to Sustainability” is about a journey; if becoming green were an instant transformation, I’d have been at “Heeeeeere’s Sustainability!”

That’s why the CN&R publishes GreenWays and other stories about sustainability. There are myriad ways to make a difference, if you’re aware of the alternatives. We don’t expect everyone to latch onto everything; we just hope each reader finds the impetus and inspiration for whatever change feels doable.

Yes, I’m going to have to commute a bit farther when I move. That isn’t the be-all and end-all of the new house. Shade will cut our cooling needs, the wood stove our heating needs. A park, pharmacy, supermarket and shops are just a short bike ride away. If we decide to try growing our own produce, we have the land to do so.

The aforementioned blogger (Lon Glazner) decided, “I’m going to count Evan as bold and not a hypocrite in writing about his choice.” If you feel otherwise, that’s OK. At least my story has sparked discussion. Baron von Tuchinsky can live with that.

Midterm intern: We’re thrilled to have journalism student Stephanie Maynard joining us for an internship, which in her case will run from mid-fall through the spring. Stephanie wrote for the Stockton Record while in high school and is one of 10 Presidential Honors Scholarship winners at Chico State. No ordinary freshman, she!