In light of Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s imminent visit to Notre Dame, we thought a comparison between Friedman’s home and the lovely Lyons Hall might be worth your while.

Friedman will speak at this year’s Notre Dame Forum, “The Global Marketplace and the Common Good.” Though Friedman will likely speak on economic issues rather than sustainability, he has written more than once on the importance of energy efficiency. In a June 2009 column, for example, he said of proposed energy legislation,

“Yes, this bill’s goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is nowhere near what science tells us we need to mitigate climate change. But it also contains significant provisions to prevent new buildings from becoming energy hogs, to make our appliances the most energy efficient in the world and to help preserve forests in places like the Amazon.”

Yet, as the photo below shows, Friedman’s concern that we not become energy hogs is surprising, if not discordant, with his 11,000 square foot home.  Al Gore is a natural, if more extreme, parallel….and we’re not even touching Friedman’s admiration for the “enlightened” Chinese government. 

Lyons Hall, on the other hand, valiantly supports GreeND, as evidenced by signs like “Love the earth! Hit the lights!” in every bathroom. In fact, we think Lyons outshines Friedman’s home on several other counts:

  1. Architectural style. Built as an honors residence hall in 1927, Lyons still stands as a prominent example of Notre Dame’s renowned Gothic architecture. It sits cozily between the Rock and Morrissey.  Nor is it far from our beloved Grotto. Lyonites never want for prayer, men, or exercise. Friedman’s home, on the other hand, is a newly constructed and lonely building in the middle of a seven-acre lot.
  2. Sidewalks. The quad between Lyons, Morrissey, and Howard is the only place on Notre Dame’s campus to feature, yes, a star-shaped configuration of sidewalks. Walk out the door of Lyons and one inevitably passes friends and neighbors. Friedman’s driveway is a convenient circle, but where does it go? In the words of David Byrne, “We’re on a road to nowhere.” And the car (not a bike, we might add) in the driveway looks quite solitary.
  3. Waterfront view. Most windows in Lyons are privileged to have a gorgeous, and, if we may say so, all-natural view of St. Mary’s lake. There are even real geese and swans in the water. In autumn, the changing leaves, the bright blue sky, the setting sun, and the chill night air stir the soul to contemplation of our Creator. From the Friedman home, one has only the vision of a rather large, artificial pool, minus poultry. We hope that the Friedmans can find some visitors to fill the poolhouse.