Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Greening" Your Home

When Hungry Hyaena was in its infancy, a great many of the blog's posts dealt with environmental conservation issues. This environmental vein is still present in the art writing and rambling essays presented here, but environmentally themed websites or non-profit projects aren't so often highlighted.

The two recommendations below are, I hope, the beginning of a renewed HH commitment to promoting worthy environmental education and activism.

1) The Sierra Club recently launched "Green Home," an educational website that offers an excellent introduction to ecologically conscious home improvements.
"Sierra Club Green Home was developed with a simple mission in mind: to help Americans make their homes more energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and healthy. We do not sell products or services. Instead, we provide great education to help you have a more sustainable home and make it easy for you to find local green businesses."
If you don't own the apartment or house that you live in, some of the site's suggestions won't be sensible investments, though you might consider introducing the Green Home ideas to your landlord. But if you're fortunate enough to own your residence, the site offers many terrific resources that will get you rolling on lifestyle "greening" (and, in the long run, saving another kind of green).

Green Home is the latest Sierra Club initiative that I've been impressed by. Loyal HH readers know that I'm particularly encouraged by the environmental group's efforts to bridge the "sportsmen" and environmentalist divide.

2) More immediately practical is this non-toxic home cleaning guide by Annie Bond.
"Most modern synthetic cleaning products are based on age-old formulas using natural ingredients....Going back to the original naturally derived ingredients is a way to make cleaning products that work, don’t pollute and save you money. Most are found in your kitchen cupboards. Mix and match with well-chosen and environmentally friendly green cleaning products found in health food stores, and you can easily and simply transform your home into a non-toxic and healthy haven."
I'll definitely be taking advantage of the window cleaner and all-purpose spray cleaner recipes.


Donald Frazell said...

Instead of art schools, this is what young people should be going into. It is creative, essential, vital to our survival, and practical. There will be far more jobs in it than in the arts, which again are wasteful entertainment for the rich for the most part. There are very few truly needed creative artists at anyone time in human history. But much need for designers, especially now in home and garden building, where we should spend far more time and money, rather than shabbily built units for immediate gratification, not long term sustainability.

It has purpose, there are many forms of creativity. Art has been a playground for far too long, our energies must be put into saving energy, fuels, with human ingenuity and hard work.

I have arranged my home so that in different times of the year i move to different spots, under trees for cool and trimming bushes back for heat during cold. I have no air conditioner, a huge, perhaps the biggest, waste of fuel here in LA after cars. A couple of weeks out of the year is near intolerable at home, so I stay outside, til the home can cool down in the evening. Though inland that is not always possible. but Home and Garden design and cooling, plus water heater and air heating, are key areas for improvement.

The vanity of wanting to be an artiste, immortal and famous, must end. Art is important, but no more or less than any other part of human existence. Humility must return as a virtue.

Art collegia delenda est

andiscandis said...

1) Sierra Club!! (angry fist shaking) Get your damn articles in on time and then leave me the hell alone!!! (Sorry, personal matter.)

2) I've been mopping my wood floors with vinegar & water and it's stripping the varnish and bleaching out the wood.

Donald Frazell said...

Just use Murphys, its biodegradable and over a hundred years old, and actualy works. Plus taht Green cleaner is useless. Soem things work, some dont. Vinegar on windows is not as good as ammonia. But does OK if not look at all the time, but sued jsut for light.

Hungry Hyaena said...


As a working artist, it isn't my place to condemn the choices of those presently entering art school. I agree, however, that optimistic efforts on the front lines of sustainability, conservation and human rights are heroic and admirable. Moreover, each one of us can contribute to the heroism. Some of our efforts will be largely symbolic, while others can develop over a lifetime of dedicated participation in community action.


Hm, that sounds like a very poor result. ;)

I don't think that you're supposed to use vinegar on wood, though, unless it's cut with another ingredient, such as oil.

andiscandis said...

I put oil in there, too, but probably not enough. I'm not good at cleaning and I think that's a valid reason to just not do it.

Les said...

Mr. Frazell,

I too am a working artist, and believe you are perhaps undervaluing the arts a tad. I do agree that the often delusional, romantic ideal of becoming the next big thing, just for the sake of being the next big thing, is not only wasteful thinking but unrealistic. Though there were brilliant exceptions, I was becoming sickened by the general direction of the art world in the last few years, with its cynical emphasis on youth and the same tired themes being regurgitated over and over with not much new being said. So yes, this is a great time to weed out the pretenders, or those in it for motives other than to make great art. But to say that each generation only needs a few artists is absurd (as is your assertion that the arts is mostly wasteful entertainment for the rich). Who chooses those artists? The few greats of any one generation emerge from a collective sprawl of their peers. Not all can be great, but there is nobility in truly dedicating oneself to trying with minimum compromise. We wouldn't have the great artists with truly great things to say if we discouraged young people from following their artistic passion and ambition.

And Hungry Hyena himself proves that a person can be both artist and environmental contributer. No need for either/or. It's like saying that kids shouldn't be going into finance. Sure there have been glaring abuses of that sector for far too long, and there always will. But someone's gotta finance the green movement. We'll need people from every sector.

Your overall point though, is well intentioned and mostly spot-on. Our collective creative energies could definitely be better spent shifting in the new direction our times demand.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Thanks for the follow-up comment.

I agree. Our society is emerging from a dualistic, "either/or" world view, stumbling now into conjunction or "and, and, and" perception. At least, we're afforded an opportunity to make that transition, and it seems like the global democracies are striving to do so. Optimism matters, tempered with realism!

That said, I remain skeptical of the art world that you refer to and that Donald critiques so harshly. That's not to say that I'm skeptical of art, only that the art world is, for all intents and purposes, the art market, and the "collective sprawl of [our] peers" is typically inclusive only of art world insiders (the taste makers). Of course, many terrific artists are art world insiders, but there are also many valuable voices held outside the art world borders. I am hopeful, however, that the alterna-frat nature of the NYC art scene will take a hit from the younger generation of artists, those currently in their early twenties. This has less to do with youth then it does that generation's return to earnestness and activism. (Let's just hope they don't produce the same didactic crap that so many well-intentioned wanna-be academics do at present!)

Also, we're witness to a diversification of art worlds. The cynicism and obsession with "the new" that we associate with the NYC art world is, for the most part, foreign to the Seattle scene, for example. Before long, the greater art world will be comprised of many smaller satellite genres and regions. Will we be better off for it? I suppose that doesn't really matter. We'll each have to navigate it, each find our way (and, ideally, a group of simpaticos) within it.

Les said...

See, HH. This is where we get into semantics. What is "The Art World"? You say it is largely the art market, and that has unfortunately become true to many recently. Artists living in NYC in the last decade have been raised to believe the art world is their oyster, as long as they participate in the cynical and superficial rituals that have dominated it all.

But I'm speaking more of the ideal. To me, the art world shouldn't necessarily mean the art market. Yes, we need people to buy art in order for it to continue. But personally, I'm not making art to get rich or famous. I'm at relative peace with the harsh nature of where I stand on the societal ladder as an artist. I think all of this is great for the arts, as it's forcing folks who got into it for the wrong reasons to reconsider their path, and encouraging those who have the perseverence and will to strive for great art, while hopefully also doing their little part to contribute to the greater good.

As for art schools, perhaps because I am an artist, my view is that when my son gets to be a teenager, if he wants to go to artschool I'm gonna discourage it. I'll tell him I can teach him anything he wants to know about art, but he should take the academic opportunity to learn something that might contribute to the modern world while supporting him realistically. Hypocritical? Maybe, but like I said, I agree with both you guys in your general points about the art world.

But I do stand by my conviction that art can be a great anoble pursuit, one that benefits everyone in society, not just the priviledged. Also, by referring to "the arts", I think we need to consider more than just visual or conceptual art. There's cinema, music, theater, TV, etc...Just this week I bought a new album by Bill Callahan that dragged me up out of the depths of dispair that comes from living in these times. Without that, there wouldn't be much reason to go on sometimes. All work and no play...

Hungry Hyaena said...

Indeed, it is semantics.

I agree with all my heart that art can "be a great and noble pursuit." I also like your idea of viewing the art world as the corporate body, rather than reducing it to the market-dominated organ. In doing so, artists might push past the resentment of that particular incarnation.

And, no, I don't think that your encouraging your son to study a subject or subjects other than art is hypocritical. It would be hypocritical if you told him that he couldn't pursue art, but insisting that he get a grounding in some other discipline is a win-win proposition. It might end up being his vocation and, even if he instead chooses art, his knowledge of the other field will only enrich his artistic experience.

Art undergraduate programs are limiting; all these kids graduate but can't name a philosopher, talk about basic concepts of physics or work out a simple word problem! Art schools are trade schools; they offer a specialized, incomplete education.

I also consider more than visual art under the umbrella of "the arts." Doing so gives me hope. So many of those other realms diversified in the 20th century, open to both fiercely intellectual stripes and the yelping populist impulse. There is room at the table for many voices. Here comes everybody!

Les said...

Hooray for everybody!