Earth Day and Green Spaces

Earth Day has been happening for 37 years now and it is more relevant now than it has ever been before. Having grown into an environmentalist over the last 10 years, Earth Day has special meaning to me. Normally I would be out working on a nature project somewhere, or perhaps teaching a workshop. Not this year. This year I was holding an “open house” – at my own residence!

Trading Green Space for Green Design
I recently toured The High Point, a new in-city development taking shape on the former Seattle Housing Authority “ghetto” land that was covered with old WWII housing and low-income tenants. Having been involved in affordable housing issues since becoming a real estate salesperson in 1999, I have closely followed this project, from its conception, to its successful funding, and now into the construction phase. All that remained was actually driving thru the new community and looking at it up close.

It was exactly 10 AM on a Tuesday morning when I happened by the Polygon Homes sales office, which had just opened. Polygon is one of five builders in Phase I of High Point construction (Iused to work for Polygon Management, when they managed apartment communities in the Puget Sound area). I introduced myself to the girl in the sales office (Ulyana) and asked to see a couple of townhomes just to get an idea of interior finishes and quality. I knew High Point was a Built Green (TM) development and had won many awards for its environmentally sensitive design and construction. I was impressed.

When I walked through the 3 bedroom 2.5 bath Dakota townhome, with 2-car garage, bonus room, storage, and laundry on the top floor, I immediately saw the solution for my own private problem. Our house is 10 blocks east and 12 blocks south of High Point. It was built in 1929, remodeled in 1966, sat on a quarter acre of a lot of yard work, and we were living on borrowed time when it came to maintenance issues that were bound to come up with a home the age of ours. Steve’s been working a lot of hours the last few months, and frankly has little interest in home maintenance and upkeep. I’ve been slaving in the yard for years, with a lot of pain for almost the entire 5 years we have lived here – they have been treating me for rheumatoid arthritis for 2 years and some weeks are good and some are bad. And whenever I am just sitting and relaxing I feel as if I should be out working in the yard or gardens.

Doesn’t everyone dream, for just a brief moment, to throw away all the responsibility and go live in a hotel? A brand new townhome in a condominium meant no yardwork, no home repair, and little other responsibility when it comes to work or travel. Oh, it was so tempting.

I mentally moved in. It didn’t take long for Steve to do so, either, and we wrote up an offer at the end of March. I was drawn to the modern, efficient construction and design, finish work, and the proximity to pocket parks, walking trails, and everything else I love about West Seattle. I really loved the idea of no more yard work. All of my friends have asked me but what about your garden? My answer? I will garden in pots. And shop at the farmers market. If I ever got desperate for that much gardening again, I could always get a p-patch later.

We received an offer today from a neighbor who also is a developer. He will subdivide our property and build another home here. I will miss my slice of country in the city. We’ve done a lot here, creating a certified backyard wildlife habitat and 5+ year pesticide-free zone. But not really. I am really looking forward to the new place and being part of such a vibrant, worthwhile, mixed-income community. When I am ready for my next volunteer project I am surrounded by opportunities – to work with the elderly, the infirm, or the young. And I will definitely be active with the HOA – both for our immediate condo community and also the master community. Steve is just looking forward to a garage and no more home maintenance.

It is okay to trade green space for green design. We will be reducing our physical footprint, and also contributing to a denser city – which is a big part of saving our big open green spaces…by not participating in suburban sprawl. Both our purchase and the sale of our home to someone who will build here contributes to a denser Seattle. And the development where we are moving to has been built responsibility and with the Longfellow Creek Watershed and Mother Nature in mind. It’s a win-win situation!

Welcome to Green Spaces Real Estate blog. It’s always been my personal and professional interest to figure out ways to live responsibly and greenly within my environment. This blog is really a blank slate where I can write about everything related to life and living – things to do with your dog, good walks to go on, fun parks to visit, innovative and green ideas for the home and garden. I have been serving as a resource for so long on these topics and this blog is a way to finally catalog it all and make it available on a wider scale. If you have suggestions or things you would like me to check out and maybe write about, please let me know! Post a comment. I’d love to hear what you would like to know more about.

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