now, i understand that i am deeply entrenched in the “food movement”, make that “local …. hyperlocal, non-chemical, low-fossil fuel expenditure food movement” …

and most of my readers know this and are, to varying degrees, creatively aligned. yet, how can we hit this one home? this Necessity to grow our own food locally and create landscapes which support and encourage diversity and the abundance of life? how can we seep toward massive culture shift?

one key to unlocking this continuing shift is through the Power of Awareness, of bringing longstanding and embedded subconscious impulses and patterns to light.

i love the spirit behind this, and i would also add: plant native plant gardens, wildlife habitats, create spaces which you find beautiful and life-enhancing, food forests, oasis, desert-scapes, etc etc etc!

i love the spirit behind this, and i would also add: grow native plant gardens, wildlife habitats, create spaces which you find beautiful and life-enhancing, plant food forests, oasis, desert-scapes, etc etc etc!

this morning i walked to a nearby garden and did some stretching, said hello to the california poppies sans poppies as of yet, felt the hot sun on my neck and top of my head. i gave thanks as i sat at the feet of the seed-laden leafless sweet gum (how glorious is this tiered sight?!). i walked home after a while and on my way caught sniff of something horrible. the smell alone made me shoot the air out of my nose and hold my breath as my organism revolted against it.

yesterday i was in the hardware store, the one in town that my co-worker told me is like crack in that whatever tools you buy there will only give one a cheap quick-fix and then break down. all week long he’s been telling me of the side effects of working in construction – the wood inoculated with chemicals so that it can touch the ground and not rot and be eaten by bugs (yet when one cuts it and breathes in just a few whiffs from one cut it is equivalent to sucking in about 2 cigarettes), the sealant and fiberglass toxicity from working on boats and other manufactured products, the way certain materials and varnishes actually eat the skin and internal organs, the cheap lunch food that can be tasty and is nearby yet, if eaten over time, will leave one simply feeling greasy and fat and slowly growing into this. it’s depressing, these factors, that go into our current manufactured goods economy. walking into the hardware store yesterday it smelled like someone had opened a can of toxic fumes into the room and no one had thought to open a window. all these people milling about, buying and selling in a toxic environment. this is yet another facet of this branching matter …

well, my neighbors had cut their lawn this morning (or some hired hand did) and when i walked by it smelled like the hardware store. as i said, i shot out the gases as quickly as i could from my body and held my breath until i got to some safe air, yet at the time i thought, Perhaps that smell is coming from something in the trashcan. however, i looked back and only organic matter was hanging out of the trashcan. i looked at the lawn and saw the immaculate rectangular patterns from the lawnmower and freshly chopped grass laying along the lines and connected the smell with the smell of lawn chemicals.

oh good glory heavens, oh glory be! does this make any sense at all?

a landscape dependent upon the use of unhealthy chemicals to keep it afloat. a landscape, if left to its own devices, will draw in weeds and shift faster than the shocks of a grey-hair who missed the weekly salon appointment.

something here is grossly misaligned. 

ok, okay… it can make sense. in my final class of college, a formal writing class, i wrote a 15-page persuasive proposal on the subject of lawns. in it, i delved into the history of the lawn, why it is a popular mainstay today, its health repercussions, and alternative solutions. the keys that i wish to point out now, which popped into my mind this morning, are the psychological factors behind the existence of the lawn. essentially, the lawn comes from europe and is birthed from the “against wilderness” movement that swept through around the time of the Enlightenment leading into modernity and industrialization. as europe (and we see this pattern in the christian church as well) was seeking to be rid of the wild, uncontrollable aspects of human/nature and so create what they saw as an orderly, clean, safer and more beautiful alternative, large sections of wild areas were “tamed” and made into beautiful gardens, which included large masses of short grass. it was a sign of wealth and moral superiority to have short, manicured grass, whereas the forests, farmlands, and edges where the twain did meet were considered unruly and in need of control and more human touch.

obviously, these standards and internal prejudices migrated over with a large portion of our ancestry and so have planted themselves within our lawnscapes as well. though this time it is on a larger scale — no longer is it just the elite who can have the perfectly manicured lawn, something which, without the use of fertilizers and chemicals, would take many hands to prune and weed, trim and keep looking absolutely perfect and green and fashionable. with the help of fertilizers and chemicals and lawn care equipment (and through our dependence on cheap fossil fuels to run much of this equipment), all strata of society, from those with little means to stealthily wealthy castle owners, can maintain these ideal landscapes.

does any of this make sense biologically, organismically speaking from a center of health and wellness and looking out for the good of all?

NOT AN IOTA!

yet, these subconscious and embedded historical patterns are taking quite a bit of Energy & Awareness to shift. in the paper, i also shared research i found relating to current suppositions concerning the presence of lawns in relation to gardens, native wildlife habitats, native landscaping alternatives, etc. the qualitative findings were surprising at first, if not understandable, and i think herein lies a key to greater transformation and culture shifting. the grass lawn makers, who, in many cases, control a large portions of neighborhood landscapes, saw their alternative neighbors’ landscapes as personal affronts and downright sins against the unspoken standards of the neighborhood. they used words like Unclean, Bad, Wrong, Unruly, Disrespectful, Shameful, Disgraceful, Letting themselves go. all of which, as i mentioned earlier in relation to the similarity between landscapes and religious doctrine, ties directly into this cultural ideal of moral purity: order is good, chaos is bad. kept and manicured landscapes are good whereas seemingly wild (although most likely tended to varying degrees) landscapes are dangerous and threatening and therefore morally wrong. in short, when things are outside of the norm and uncontrolled by us, they can seem threatening. as humans oftentimes hold primal and subconscious fears of the dark, forests and wild animals and humans found therein, stepping outside of the accepted landscaping box (and the mainstream in general) can be scary, especially when one lives and breathes in an amalgam of acceptance-gets-you-somewhere via the dominant paradigm.

i understand, i get it! so what i’m pointing to now is this Key of Awareness and understanding on the part of those who see the glaring nonsensical and harmful (or, in the least, not life-affirming) nature of the lawn and its wide circle of necessities. it is becoming more and more fashionable to transition this lawn-space into food gardens or beautiful spaces with grass and mixtures of flowers, native plants, rocks, native landscaping (all sans toxins), and this is a great thing. as ones who see, we have the opportunity to speak for these landscapes and to take action aligned with our vision (continually refueled and reminded through our other senses).

it also comes to my attention that many people are running into legislative and code issues when seeking to transition their personally owned landscapes. this points to our need to Shift These Laws. i remember when doing research for my paper, i explored the covenants within my parents’ neighborhood in the suburbs outside of indianapolis, indiana. i was shocked to find all of the rules inhibiting certain landscapes and regulating the presence of others. sale of vegetables grown within one’s personal lawn (even when sold at another venue) was explicitly not allowed. for someone in my shoes, who would like to transition any landscape i am around and share/barter/sell the produce, this is a huge inhibitory factor. obviously, it is time to band together and collectively and with gusto and craft (gentle as doves and wise as serpents) face these outdated and controlling laws and come up with creative alternatives.

in short, our world’s health (micro to macroscopic levels) demands it and the potential of vitality and greater life wiggles with excitement at the possibility.

and so, i further realize upon typing this, this voicing is my present-moment landscape responsibility. thanks for listening.

keep attuned for Part 2 coming soon: my landscape responsibility Part 2, joyful alternatives