Sustaining the Peninsula

Going green, not so long ago, meant living on that fringe where the chastised and dismissed survived.

How far we’ve come. Four years ago we took a leap with the Pulse and dedicated an entire issue to sustainable ventures, stories, and ideas percolating on the Door Peninsula. We didn’t expect the ideas to germinate so quickly (39 Travel Green businesses now dot the county) that we are almost nauseated by the omnipresence of the green label – much of it falsely applied.

So common has the green-washing of products become that in this, our fourth annual Sustainability Issue, we’ve included a guide to green labels and terms to help you wade through the morass of misinformation in store aisles.

But in Door County, sustainability is a precarious balancing act more complicated than carbon footprints and recycled building materials. Each year, more people fall in love with what this place is, but that love often creates pressure to turn it into something else.

The excerpt on the following page from Michael Perry’s 2006 book, TRUCK: A Love Story, will sound a familiar ring for many readers. Perry writes about his hometown of New Auburn, WI. There, the convergence of old, small-town customs with the new rules established by the arriving wave of city folk seeking a prettier version of the country create a complicated tension.

Perry shares an affinity for the established ways but admits that change is not merely forced upon them by city-fleeing outsiders. The grudgingly accepted change brings with it employment for many, and much-needed cash to those fortunate to have land to spare.

It’s a reminder that sustainability is more than recycling, using less, and architecture. Perhaps most endangered is that not-so-easy-to-quantify and monetize quality: Who we are.

Andrew Phillips’ photo essay illustrates one way people have used the creativity the peninsula is famous for to hold on to a little bit of our roots while moving forward. The re-purposed buildings demonstrate the preservation of a space in a new use.

Throughout these pages, you’ll find tips gathered from our readers, that we hope will help you lower your impact, and quotes meant to be both inspiring and thought-provoking.

What we hope, more than anything, is that the ideas, stories, and information in this issue, become a re-usable resource to you.