This week’s Blog Off topic is “Is there a reason to be optimistic?” My take on this is highly personal, as usual. Be sure to visit the other blog participant’s posts. You can find a list of them here: www.letsblogoff.com
Something wonderful happened to me recently. After a long, downtrodden, worrisome year full of angst, stress, a little depression, and intermittent bursts of crying, I passed an exam. It was the LEED Green Associate exam that is the first tier of credentialing for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green-building rating system (you can learn more about it here: www.usgbc.org).
This was big for me. Huge, in fact.
I haven’t taken an exam like that one since the NCIDQ exam, which qualified me as an Interior Designer and allowed me to get my license to practice. That one was not optional (in my view). There are those out there that will argue that point, but I have no patience for that. You want to be taken seriously in your profession and put the fine point on your education, experience, and hard work, you take the damn test. You crush the test, in fact, because you earned it.
The LEED exam was an optional thing for me. I don’t need it to practice design. It doesn’t change my circumstances, or make me an expert on green building, but I believe it was a necessary step for me to take to advance to the next level in my profession. Sustainability, resource conservation, and energy efficiency are imperatives for the Design and building industries. If we, as designers, architects, and builders don’t lead in this department, then who will?
I studied and studied, I made flash cards, I took copious notes, I procrastinated somewhat, I put off scheduling the exam until the last minute. I memorized codes and standards for ventilation rates and brownfields, water use and thermal comfort, and all the while I fought back against that little voice that sometimes creeps into your mind and tells you it’s all in vain, you’ll never pass it, you’re going to fail.
In the week or two prior to my test date, I started looking at myself in the mirror and saying in a loud, affirming voice, with a big smile on my face, “I am going to pass this test! I know this material. It’s all going to be okay.”
And it was. I passed it with flying colors. Along with relief, I am elated. Elevated, full of helium, buoyed, and soaring. And optimistic- for my future, the future of Interior Design and the building industry in this country, and the world. Sometimes it just takes one really good achievement, something really great to happen to you, personally, to alter your outlook on your own world and therefore the rest of the world gets better for it too. It starts with one, combusting from the inside, spreads out and catches on. So many good things have happened to me this year, but passing this test was the hurdle I needed to push myself into Optimism territory.
The fact that the LEED rating system exists makes me optimistic for Architecture and Design, building, development, and manufacturing. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it is carefully articulated and well-crafted to change the way we’ve been designing and building for so long. It emphasizes consensus and working together to achieve a greater good as well as serving the individual needs of people. It furthers the impetus that is already gaining momentum to change our behavior and to think carefully about everything we consume and use during the course of our lives.
I get excited when I see people carrying their own bags into the grocery store, public recycling bins getting used, and when my kids remind me to turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth. That kind of action gives me hope, and hope leads to optimism. We still have a long way to go, and this century has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but these are just growing pains.
It’s going to be all right.