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We’re Partying Like It’s 1999

1/7/2009 12:00:00 AM

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This first week back after the holidays is always a little rough for me. 

It’s our final production week; we’re sending the March/April gardening issue off to the printer. It’s nice, if bizarre, to be looking at layouts full of lush, bountiful gardens on a bleak January day. That’s one of the old-school things I love about printed magazines, that need to work almost half a year ahead of the calendar in order to make up for the long, cumbersome mechanical printing process. It seems so quaint, in this age of Twitter. 

Next up is our tenth-anniversary issue. Gearing up for that one’s been making me feel nostalgic (and old). Ten’s a lot of years. I was such an innocent kid back in 1999, when I called up Pliny Fisk at the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin and made him laugh out loud with how little I knew about green building. (I confused Lake Flato], a green architecture firm, with Lake Travis, a real lake west of Austin.) A couple more trips to Austin (and other green hot spots), and I knew a little more than I knew before—but, lucky for me, that was more than most. Green building was still pretty grass roots, an open network of information exchange, in 1999.  

I think we made some mighty fine magazines back in those days. We featured a lot of funky, one-of-a-kind natural houses (the kind I’m particularly partial to), but we erred in not offering enough for regular folks (like me) who may not ever build that way. We adjusted our formula, readjusted again a few years later, and readjusted again. (That’s another beautiful thing about magazines…we get to do that. And now that we have tools such as online surveys, we’re constantly microadjusting, which is pretty cool.) 

Back in 1999, I’d get some quizzical (even suspicious) looks from people when I told them about Natural Home. (I didn’t really look like a hippie. I was a suburban mother of two.) Those have died out these days, as most everyone has at least a toe in the green thing (even if it’s just a pair of bamboo socks). 

But as we stand here at the brink of 2009, I’m not completely convinced that green has hit “mainstream” status. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that only 2 to 10 percent of American homes could be considered green.  We have a ways to go, but our cache is only building. It’s cool to be hitting this 10-year milestone just as our incoming president dangles forth possibility in the use of words like “renewable energy” and “green jobs.” 

We’ve posted some of the houses we most love from the past decade. Soon, we'll have a survey ready for you, and we hope you’ll stop by to vote for your favorites (or write them in, if you don’t find them there).  I believe these homes, which have paved the way for the exciting decade to come, will continue to provide inspiration and fodder for our housing dreams—well into this next millennium.



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