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Saltscapes Blog

What’s old is new again: and that’s a good thing

“...there are some things that weren’t broken and perhaps should never have been fixed.”

We studiously try hard not to preach (for it’s condescending and counter-productive) but we do try to put subtle points in front of you along the way. Among them is the fact that traditions and values and all those things related to them have developed through a long progression of social evolution. In other words, society has determined, through an extended process of collective wisdom, that those things are correct and necessary and good.

So we should never dispose of them lightly and move on merely because it’s “hip” or “cool”.

And there are some things that weren’t broken and perhaps should never have been fixed.

There are two such examples in this issue. First, the humble wood-fired cooking stove—displaced in the “burbs” by an electric stove, a non-cooking woodstove, a microwave oven, an oil furnace, backup electric baseboard heaters and an electric hot water tank. Yet, that single invention did it all—it heated the house, provided a stovetop and oven for cooking, warmed the dishes, and often hot water as well.

And the heat is totally luxurious—utterly cozy and heartwarming moist heat that only an old woodstove with heavy-gauge metal can provide.

Total efficiency, totally sustainable fuel and no petroleum pollution—invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1742.

So, today, we’re questioning the 1960s urban planning decisions, and the “burbs” and the commutes and the concept of mowing down all the trees and wildlife habitat to build an asphalt subdivision, then manicuring sterile, pesticide-laden lawns and planting artificial shrubbery along the driveways and single trees along the streets...

While rural folks continued to maintain their woodlots and to welcome wildlife to their properties; and to cook and heat with cooking woodstoves—which are making a comeback with modern versions on the market now.

Then there was that whole back to the land movement in the 1970s. It petered out just about as suddenly as it emerged, but the notion of bucking convention stuck with many people.

That manifests today, not as “flower power” but as a determination, especially among the young, to live far more sustainable lives in a far more sustainable society. They’re not about to give up their smart phones any time soon, but they are forsaking carbon spewing automobiles and seeking out sources of organic food in the cities and embracing small plot, organic farming in the country—et cetera.

The other is a piece on a collector of old bottles—recently replaced to a large extent by plastic, which is now destroying our oceans. But glass bottles (first invented in 1,500 BC) are recyclable and reusable and totally environmentally friendly. We need a Bring Back Bottles movement.

There’s no shortage of hope for the future.

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay
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