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Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 04:49 pm

Confessions of a Literal Tree-Hugger

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Hi, there! I got so excited about wind turbines (or well, as excited as anyone can get about wind energy, which in some cases is pretty damn excited) that I didn’t have time to introduce myself. My name is Diane, and I’ll be your new blogger for “Environmentally Friendly.”

First, a little bit about me. I’m a graduate student at UIS, and I’ll be interning at the Illinois Times for six months while I complete my coursework. I’m originally from Michigan (about 40 mins outside of Detroit), and I graduated from Michigan State University last spring.

Growing up around the Great Lakes has definitely shaped my interest in environmental issues. Preservation has always been a huge deal in my state, especially since our economy is mostly based on the “Pure Michigan” campaign, Jeff Daniels, and the (failing) auto industry. I’ve been covering natural resources, energy and sustainability since sophomore year of college. After sitting through a number of (long) meetings of the Meridian Township Planning Board, I realized that I actually enjoyed watching angry townspeople rant about Protecting Our Wetlands. (Not that this isn’t an important issue, but sometimes the ways developers justify their actions can be hilarious.)

I think my interest in the environment also sprung from my hometown: I grew up in the kind of place where going Up North is a hugely anticipated event, Wal-Mart is the devil (we just got one in my suburb this year and OMG it has been DRAMATIC), and not recycling will get you in trouble (and you'll lose money - it's 10 cents per can in Michigan.) In other words, I'm a living, breathing cliche of the blog Stuff White People Like. This summer, I worked for the Michigan chapter of a national group dedicated to conservation. I had a lot of fun educating people (and myself!) about my state’s natural resources.

Now that I’m in Illinois, I want to learn more about your environmental concerns. I know that the prairies of Springfield are a far cry from the tree-studded islands in Lake Huron, but I believe that protecting our environment is always important, no matter where you live. I’m excited to start writing about all things green! If you’re interested in something, let me know. I’d be more than happy to investigate it. What are your biggest environmental concerns for Springfield and/or Sangamon County? Tell me about them in comments.

(Quick story: one time my mom made me hug a tree. Literally. I was like, six years old, so all I really got from the experience was that bark is prickly. But thanks for trying to teach me about loving the earth, Mom.)

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