Our next destination was Washington, DC. With four adults it was much cheaper to rent a car than taking Greyhound... but would the EcoNomads take a private vehicle? Never! After some research OfeK found an alternative Chinatown to Chinatown bus that cost a mere $10 each and included on-board Mandarin movie viewing!
We arrived late, and took the neat metro to Arlington, and found the sterile guesthouse where we had a room waiting for us. The next morning we began our mission: to explore the progressive areas of the capital's suburbs, as our interest in urban eco-living had been increasing and we were always keeping an eye out for livable urban communities.
Our first stop was the suburb of Takoma Park. Some refer to it as the 'Berkeley of the East coast'. It was quaint with a little main street and big food co-op. We were lucky to be there on the day that a local man, Mike Tidwell, was doing a tour of his newly renovated "green" house. We joined a tour and saw the different alternative energy/building components of his home. One highlight was his stove, which burned kernels of corn, producing very little smoke and keeping the whole house warm all winter for just a few hundred dollars. He and a few neighbors started a corn co-op and got the city to put a silo in their area so that they would all have access to this organic, non-genetically modified, no-till, Mennonite-farmed corn.
Then he showed us the back roof of his house which was covered with solar panels. In the summer he produces enough energy for his meter to go backwards. He also showed us his super efficient refrigerator which he told us saved him more energy and money than any other energy-saving initiative. Out in front of his house we also looked at hybrid cars and solar ovens. We signed Mike's mailing list and have since been getting frequent emails from him about all the activist work he is doing.
We came back to Takoma Park another day to check out the farmer's market and a street fair, and Momo spent some time at the playground. We also found a small fig tree full of fruit!
The other progressive suburb that we had read about was Mt. Rainier. We checked out the Glut Food Co-op (started by Marxists in 1969) which we found very down-to-earth, without the usual frills of health-food stores. We were told that Mt. Rainier is possibly the cheapest place to live in the area.
While walking in another part of the city we came across a very familiar-feeling street and entered the vegan natural foods store and restaurant of the Hebrew Israelites , whom we visited a few years before in Dimona, Palestine. It happens to be the biggest vegan community in the world. We reminisced a bit of our visit to their community and also about how OfeK's parents used to order their soy ice cream in 10 liter boxes.
We of course made the usual pilgrimage to the touristy part of DC, visiting the Museum of Natural History, a sculpture garden next door, and sitting on the mall.
Other days we spent close to home, playing at the local playground and making meals in the house.
most of the pictures were taken by ohn (ofek's father)
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