By Stephen L. Fisher
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Extra info for Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia
I can read them when I get home,” Michelle said. “Nope,” I said. ” Sport that she is, Michelle grabbed the papers, cleared her throat, and began to read. Two results came of all this: First, Michelle decided that she didn’t want to buy fur anymore because she actually has the biggest heart known to humankind and because we are nowhere near so different on the inside as we seem on the outside. Second—and here’s the point of the story—I showed myself to be a smug little jerk. I had mobilized my intellectual and persuasive resources to get someone else to change her behavior, and remained, I saw, utterly complacent about my own.
Michelle was a Daily Candy girl, a Marc Jacobs white Stella handbag girl, a kind of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw grows up, gets married, and has a baby girl. On the other hand, call me a pussy, but I felt bad every time I saw one of those raccoons or possums with their guts spilled out on the Palisades Parkway. I also felt bad for little animals getting killed for nothing but their skins. Yet I managed to exempt, back then, my leather shoes from my concern that humanity puts vanity before kindness to animals.
Was it possible to live environmentally in our modern culture? Would it seem so unappealing that no one would follow my lead? Would I be making myself into a freak? Or would what I was doing have some real value? I didn’t just want to have no carbon impact. I wanted to have no environmental impact. I was not talking about taking easy environmental half-measures, by the way. I was not talking about just using energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs or being a diligent recycler. My idea was to go as far as possible and try to maintain as close to no net environmental impact as I could.