Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Incremental Change

Sometimes after going to class I feel really discouraged. There are so many problems in the world, so many things wrong with cities and the way we design them, I often wonder what, if anything, I can do. It so often seems that our fate is in the hands of politicians who have their hands in the pockets of companies and industries that don't have our best interests in mind. That is frustrating to me.
An example that has been bothering me lately is the issue of water in Utah. Water rights are so inclusive here that someone owns rainwater even before it touches the ground. Collecting rainwater in this state is against the law. That means you are not supposed to direct any rainwater to a cistern, your lawn, a garden, even a birdbath. It is ridiculous that we pour drinking water onto our lawns and flowers, not to mention those who water their driveways. In most parts of the state there is no secondary water system, and yet it is still illegal to collect rainwater.
So what options are there? Well, plant native plants that don't require as much water, many only needing any water in the first year. This could be buffalo grass as an alternative to Kentucky bluegrass. If you have a garden, which I highly recommend, use a drip system instead of flooding, and nestle straw around your plants so the soil can retain more moisture. When you really think about it, how many people have a big green lawn in their front yard? Of those people, how many actually use that lawn? Is it necessary? Maybe your neighborhood is extremely safe and your kids play on the front lawn, and you don't want to take it out. Do you need grass in your park strip? How much water is wasted on the sidewalk and road trying to water that narrow strip of green? Change is incremental, and it is up to early-adopters to start the cycle. So this summer, make a change, do something different. Others will see your actions and maybe jump on the bandwagon.

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