Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Purpose of Front Yards and Other Errata

Would you believe that a woman in Oak Park, Michigan is facing jail time for planting a veggie garden in her front yard? It's true. And another article on the subject looks at the wastefulness of front yards in a country that spends more on lawn care than the entire sum of India's GDP. And to what end?
Space hogs, water suckers and giant leaf collectors that have to be blown, mown and doused in chemicals with a great ruckus to look good, what is the point of a lawn other than to say: we have land, time and money to waste?
Point A is that we're not wealthy enough for the petty bourgeois ostentation any longer. A funny thing happened when we "democratized" the English king and castle, many began to look shoddy and unkempt, hence the strict codes potentially leading to jail time within single tax bracket neighborhoods often gated as socioeconomic monocultures to keep "the other" out. Ya know, the kind of people that would lower your home if the quality of construction, the uselessness of the land/location, and the very nature as a monoculture wouldn't do that already.

The second and related point is that the cheap oil economy that allowed food to be shipped from wherever, literally, to your kitchen is slowly unraveling. And along with point A, we have to begin making good use of all land, meaning either more productive or more dense.

The article mentions another family who recently added a front yard garden and stated they had never spoken to or met so many neighbors as they had previously with their manicured land where the purpose was mainly to keep people off/away/get out/beware of dog. And isn't the front yard actually an extension of the welcome mat?
In a semi-related story, since it is all connected in some way, shape, or form, Cleveland is adopting the shrinkage strategy to bulldoze vacant homes. Many otherwise smart people seem to miss the point of the shrinkage strategy, which isn't actually shrinkage when done right as much as reclustering, aka reurbanizing scattered occupied homes into consolidated hamlets. This reurbanization strategy is best coupled with the "reboot" of relocalization of agricultural production as Detroit is doing. Sure, the jobs aren't high paying, but it's 1) better than not having a job at all and 2) the land is more productive than having a decrepit house falling in upon itself sitting there.
And lastly, if you vote for Michelle Bachmann, she'll wave her magic wand and make all the housing crisis vanish just like that. Perhaps, demonstrating her ignorance though, she said the falling prices are keeping people out of homes. Umm, Michelle, falling prices are a correction to bring them back to affordability. So I guess you only represent (or wish to represent) those silly enough to think of their home as an ATM.