Solar panels. Grape vines. Fruit trees. Bamboo. Windmills, for goodness sake. And even a greenhouse. How could the house I pass while Traveling at the Speed of Bike between the train tracks and the park not be my favorite in the town where I grew up?
I had been wanting to meet the mastermind behind this wonderland for years. Finally, on my way to meet my friend Marcelle for muffins at a diner, I got lucky. He was out there, tending things, his morning hands already dirty.
“I love your house!” I called from the seat of my folding bike on the residential street.
He smiled and waved me over. I introduced myself as Pattie.
” Pa treece ia? ” he asked.
” Yes,” I replied, smiling. Only those who are Italian, Portugese or Greek call me that, and this town is full of all three.
“I’m Nick,” he said, introducing himself. He is the father of three daughters, like Tevya from Fiddler on the Roof, but Greek.
Speaking of his roof, which he quickly did with furrowed brow, he told me how he had been having trouble with the city over permits for what he has been doing for 17 years to create his own power, grow his own food, and live more sustainably. He even went into the house to bring out a recently published article about it to show me (pictured above).
I’m not gonna get into the ins and outs of city permits here. All I’m gonna say is this man is a hero and he has knowledge and passion needed now more than ever. Rules here and everywhere most likely need updating to reflect our climate crisis and our ability to mitigate and adapt to it.
Nick gives me hope, and people like him should be centered, showcased and supported. If the Village of Mineola, New York (which currently does not have one bike lane, by the way) won’t do that, I will. Right here on Round America with a Duck.