Verde Laguna: Why I write this column

I found myself wondering why you would waste your time reading these lines. There is only one reason for that: trust. The trust that I have been working very hard to build with you while writing this column every other week. Because after all, who am I? Where am I? What am I doing writing the column? Where am I going? I picked up the paper last week and started reading. I remember my first reaction was to put it down, but the fundamental question remains. The truth must come out.

I am sorry to see that Roger Butow was dissatisfied with my "The ocean begins at your front door" column [Aug. 13]. I cannot understand why he missed the first line: "The city of Laguna Beach early this summer mailed a message about changes in lawn watering and a request for help." That is the basic resource for that column. If you open the environmental page on the city website, "The ocean begins at your front door" is at the very top. End of the story. Or Google the phrase to see how many results come up. I did not portray myself as an originator or author of the phrase. Why should I?

The "Verde Laguna" column is an attempt to build awareness about the challenges we are facing as a society due to the environmental crisis we are living today. It is about finding ways to work together, learn and grow, through the cultivation of sustainable solutions. It's not a beauty contest, or a literary competition. It is just a forum in our paper where you and I can discuss issues under the "sustainable" umbrella.

Should you believe, as I do, that the solution to many problems lies in good education, then you may agree that we have educated each other in this process of exchanging words now and then, myself doing research on many subjects, and you reading these lines. I have tried hard to make this interesting and for you to have a dialogue.

Would you be interested if, when writing about a subject such as runoff, I listed every single book I have on the shelves? Starting with the "National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas" published by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005, and continuing with all the Best Management Practices and many other publications professionals use when working on projects? It may be needed for a professional publication or papers on this subject, but is irrelevant for the general public. Along the way, in many of my columns, credit has been given to quotes from Einstein, David Suzuki, Jason McLennan and others.

What does this person know about me, if anything? Or is he forming an opinion based on liking or disliking my writings in the paper, wanting or fearing certain things, getting caught in the surface of things? Should you be interested, my writings are certainly not only about sustainability, but also architecture and urban issues. I have extensive experience over the past 20 years in print publications and architectural magazines, such as El Cronista Architecture, Trama Architectural Journal, La Razon Architecture and El Clarin Architecture, some of the most prestigious newspapers in Argentina.

I like to think that rather than reflecting an arrogant macho attitude marking his territory, the letter shows willingness to tackle situations. If Butow can somehow turn away his anger, there is time to actually write something engaging, perhaps making a contribution to the people of Laguna Beach, and be published in this forum.

But since he is making accusations about ethics, I challenge him to provide the records that support the statement that I am writing this column for personal gain, and invite the paper to publish it. In fact, I am receiving no compensation for this effort.

Should he not be able to back up his words, then he is one more of those in the Internet age who write without ever having to prove or support a false statement. He is one more wolf in green clothing, an old "green expert," a consultant claiming to know everything.

Sorry, but healing our world today will involve more than "real eco-protectionists" as he called himself, or a "slave in the trenches." It's hard to learn you are still living in the dark ages. I welcome green champions, maybe young individuals with a passion about the environment and working for change.

It is bad news that some people are still having problems with "Capitalistic entrepreneurs," to quote from the letter. This probably sounds a little bit old-fashioned, because we need entrepreneurs willing to invest in a green economy. We need new "green companies" to develop the technologies of the future. This is urgent, because 2,244,453 Californians are without a job (data source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

With an unemployment rate of 12.3% we need to create wealth, to create jobs — "green jobs." Capitalist entrepreneurs with new ideas can dig us out of this recession. I am writing this column because I think these days sustainability is not an option but a responsibility, and I am working to do something constructive.

GUSTAVO GRAD is a Laguna Beach resident and certified sustainable building advisor. He can be reached at

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