Last night I went to a seminar class on the topic of sustainability and it has got me thinking.

I really would like to see change in my lifetime, and I think I will. Though I know that it is optimistic to think so. I would like to see more neighborhood gardens. Less lawns. More alternative building. Less pre-fab cookie-cutter architecture. More creativity. More tradition too.

We have weekly guest speakers and last night Paul Robbins, author of Lawn People, spoke. First of all he was amazing, and a great speaker. He has done some work on villages and I find myself fascinated. His conclusion is that change will not come from "culture" and that "culture" is too amorphous to be the answer. He also says that the lawns, our pets, and other non-human things we interact with compel us to act. And that the culture would change if we just radically removed all of the lawns. Interesting concept.

Culture he broke down into three segments: (1) base of knowledge; (2) practices; and (3) a set of beliefs. It sounds fatalistic, but he said that none of these factors independently are enough to create change.

I've been thinking so myself, and that the only true solution is action on a neighborhood scale. Community driven. But I confess I think that belief, and hope, can be highly motivating. Like Obama's message, Yes We Can.

Someone in class said that Las Vegas has a monetary incentive where they pay you by the square foot for homeowners to remove their lawns. Sure it is baby steps, but over time... I think change does happen, though so slowly. I want to live in a future that looks more like the past. I want my internet and my heirloom tomatoes.

This may be an optimistic morning, but I think we'll get there. God I hope so.


  1. BTW
    I want to raise chickens too!!!!

  2. How do you convince people that a house without chemical smells is actually cleaner? I'm working on that with my family right now.

    Our lawn certainly is crappy, and I tried to remove it and put rocks for awhile.....but Bill was embarrassed and tried to re-conventionalize.

    Maybe I'll make another run at it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. That's an interesting question Christy - I suppose they have to think of chemicals as bad.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. It's funny, I grew up with household cleaners, Pledge, Pine-Sol, Windex, Scotch-guard, and much worse chemicals, and they still say "clean" to me.

    I guess I inadvertently gave some of that to the kids.

    But on the good side, I'm not overly clean....

    And I have to ask, why does one need to disinfect a toilet so rigorously? I think I'm just going to use baking soda...

  5. This was a beautiful post. I'm optimistic for change also. You definitely got me thinking about my lawn now. :)

  6. My sister is a landscape architect who specializes in weeds (!) and she talks all the time about getting rid of lawns. Not sure I could ever convince my husband, but it is definitely worth a shot!

  7. I used to put green food coloring in a sprayer and put it on my dry grass.

    Does that count, or am I still part of the problem?

  8. I remember Ian telling me once that hope and positive messages will never cause environmental change. He said only a negative message could effect change. He then went on to argue that because negative messages are the only way that people will change that he was going to dump all his garbage on his neighbors lawns. His negative message is this: "get rid of your lawn and I will stop dumping my garbage on it".

    Anyway that's Ian's crazy logic :)

  9. We had a sort of inverse garbage theory in Kentucky--we put old junk cars, etc., where a real lawn should be.

    Who knew we were actually the more Zen, more eco-friendly part of the country?

    Seriously, though, in a place like St. Louis, where there is usually rain, so there non-ornamental weeds.....I'd love some guidance about how to get rid of my lawn.

    It's a nightmare now, anyway, so the time is right. (Well, springtime, not now...)

  10. A friend of a friend started a great non-profit called Depave ( which was started after he ripped out a concrete-covered yard and planted an amazing garden (see before and after photos here

    Last spring my next door neighbors did something similar - ripping out their driveway except for a 2' wide sinuous path. They were able to collect donated veggie starts, fruit trees, herbs and flowers. In exchange everything they grow is for the community. And now the community is starting to catch on and folks volunteer a few hours here and there to mulch, weed, harvest, etc.

    Imagine if two or three houses on every street did something like this!

    Oh and we're going to get chickens the summer the Bean turns 3. That way she's out of the danger zone (chicks can carry diseases that are potentially dangerous for babies), and old enough to really enjoy them and help out with their care. Hooray chickens!

  11. HSM: Thanks for the depaving links.

    Everyone: I'm so glad to see we are all so into this stuff. It adds to the hope.



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