Almost Forgotten Sustainability

A portrait of sustainability ca. 1888. I’m marveling at the renewable energy aspects of this great photograph by LaRoche & French taken near the Hanson Ackerson Mill in Old Town. These sturdy teams of draft horses literally did the heavy lifting on Tacoma’s waterfront in the days when steam powered sawmills turned out rock hard ancient timbers like the one in the foreground by the millions of board feet. On summer days like this one the hot sun smells of fresh cut lumber, harness leather and working horses carried on the same wind that drove the three masted lumber ship in the background. Forests for timber, cord wood for the steam boilers, southwesterly winds for the sails and muscle strength for the rest were the inventive energy sources that built Tacoma. No wonder it baffles me why hand made structures built from this era of technology are being replaced with fossil fuel based materials like PVC windows and siding, vinyl floors and finishes and synthetic replacements for just about everything. Its like the wind and wood and muscle were frozen back somewhere in history, lost in another time. All we smell is plastic.


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