Grace's work schedule was more relaxed these days, and so her newest goal became baking the perfect key lime pie. She was getting very close, thanks to the high quality fruit Adam had cultivated, but there was still something missing. Adam didn't complain when his wife kept asking him to taste-test one pie after another. Key lime pie was his favorite, after all.
Both of them remained blissfully unaware of the fact that there was stolen government property right beneath their house.
On the surface, Hazel and Aidan's lives continued as usual. There was an underlying sense of dread each time they opened a newspaper or watched TV news, but there was no mention of a burglary at the science lab. As Hazel had hoped, the portal had been completely forgotten after being put into storage.
"I think we really got away with it," Aidan confided to Jake the dog as he lathered shampoo into his thick coat. "And I can trust you not to go telling on us. Right, buddy?"
Jake barked and wagged his tail, splashing water and bubbles everywhere.
Even though they'd lost no time taking possession of the portal, for now it rested in the basement, deactivated and unused. This step of their plan had nothing to do with traveling, to the future or elsewhere. It was all about the here and now.
Hazel and Aidan spent every free minute out and about, talking to their neighbors and passers-by on the street. Raising awareness for environmental issues turned out be more adventurous than one would have thought. Some sims were incredulous to learn about the errors of their ways and convincing them to change their habits was almost impossible.
Others turned out to have the eco-friendly trait themselves. "Recycled paper, nice," the retired actor John Pay praised their flyers. "I'll be sure to spread the word. Keep up the good work."
Hazel beamed as she watched him mount his horse and ride away. Having a famous celebrity like John Pay backing their cause was going to be a great help!
They even went so far as to visit people in their homes to help them transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.
"Wait, so you're saying I can save two hundred simoleons on bills if I only switch out my light bulbs?" Calvin Riffin looked like Snowflake Day had come early this year. "Why didn't anyone tell me sooner?"
Some people were a little harder to persuade, but even Helen Bird ran out of excuses when Hazel gifted her with a brand new bicycle.
"You're right," Helen sighed, "My workplace is only two blocks away. There's no need to take the car every day, and the exercise will do me good."
Hazel's parents generously stepped in when the time came to convince local business owners. They invested hundreds of thousands of their (admittedly ample) savings to buy shares and then insist on the addition of solar panels and other environmentally-friendly measures.
They had made great strides towards their goal, but the public protest Hazel had organized would serve as the true measure of how many sims they had won for their cause.
As they set up their banners on the small square in front of city hall, things were looking grim. Could it really be that Hazel's family were the only people who showed up?
To make matters worse, the Mayor Wells chose that precise moment to exit the building, presumably to gloat.
But almost immediately after the mayor had come out, sims began arriving in droves, carrying signs and banners of their own.
Hazel was overwhelmed at first. Public speaking had never been one of her strengths, but she gathered her courage and began to talk. Her words came haltingly at first, but they were genuine as she spoke about issues that had always been close to her heart. Soon Hazel had the crowd cheering and was leading them in chants.
The mayor, meanwhile, sought assistance.
"There's nothing I can do, sir," the police officer said in a baritone voice, "They've got a permit. They're doing nothing wrong."
What the officer didn't tell the mayor was that he secretly supported the cause himself and that the only thing that kept him from joining the protest was the fact that he was technically on duty. Other members of the police force dared to show their approval more openly.
Patricia Brooks watched from the sidelines, amazed by the turnout. She had organized protests just like this in her youth, but she'd never seen this many sims joining in. It seemed that people truly were incensed at the mayor's decision to destroy the park, but Patricia did not doubt that it was ultimately Hazel and Aidan's dedication that had made this day such a success.
She was incredibly proud of her son and the young woman he had chosen to spend his life with.
But Patricia's contented smile was wiped off her face when she noticed the mayor stomping towards her.
"What do you think you're doing here," he growled.
"Excuse me? What do you mean?"
"I can see through your dirty little tricks," he hissed, his mustache quivering with rage, "Using your children to run a smear campaign against me? Disgusting!"
Patricia frowned. "And that's exactly your problem. You think everything is about politics and power. But this is about values, Mr Wells." Her voice was steely. "I don't care who wins the election. I'll even support you if the voters decide that you should be the one to represent their interests. But that's just it - it's about the people's interests, and I think those have been made very clear today."
"We want our park! We want it now! We want our park! We want it back!"
The mayor's response was drowned out by chanting and then a chorus of cheers from the crowd. Hazel had just finished her stirring speech, to raucous applause.
The protest had turned out to be a greater success than anyone could ever have anticipated.
As the day neared its end and the last few protesters began to trickle away with satisfied smiles on their faces, the Brooks invited the Cardwells to their small home to celebrate.
Grace volunteered to prepare dinner for everyone while the others talked.
... or in the case of Hazel and Aidan, kissed.
"No matter how things turn out in the election, there is no way anyone could ignore this movement," Patricia assured Adam. Their quest to make Appaloosa Plains environmentally friendly had made waves that reached far and wide. Other areas and even large cities, embarrassed to be shown up by a backwater town like Appaloosa Plains, had followed suit and started their own campaigns to go green.
"Whoever the next mayor is going to be, they'll have to support it or put their entire career in jeopardy," Patricia concluded with a smile.
It was truly a cause for celebration.
But even though they'd come far, there was still one more task ahead of them.
I know I said I'd explain the portal in this chapter, but it was getting too long, so it'll have to wait until the next. Oh, the suspense!
So much rambling about how they convinced the neighbors to go green! This generation's goal is AWESOME! and as a part of that I set a little challenge for myself. I had Hazel befriend sims using only the eco-friendly trait interactions ("Talk about going green/composting/renewable energy" etc) at which point she'd seal the deal by gifting them a bicycle. I tried get as many households as possible, one friend each at minimum, with the rule that the friend had to be older than a teen (so they'd have influence over the rest of the household) and ideally the 'head' of the family, like a parent. I think she went up to about fifteen households in the end, at which point I started running out of neighbors.
The family also became partners with or bought almost every rabbithole/venue in town and added solar panels where it was possible. Not that difficult of a challenge since they had way too much money anyway, but still a nice image. :D
So they presumably saved the future by making all of Appaloosa Plains go green, yay! That's pretty awesome in my book. But Hazel (being the heir) is still going to achieve something different (and more challenging gameplay-wise) before I count the goal as completed.