Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Native Plants Can Wake Us To Environmental Action

Gardening is a personal expression. It's "my art." It's a possession. And there's the problem. Aldo Leopold said that our land ethic is messed up because we treat the land as a possession, something that benefits us alone. If we say gardens should have most or all native plants in them, to many people that sounds like a personal dogma forced upon creative free will -- but that interpretation is being filtered through a western culture that puts human self above all else, and especially a concept of "American freedom" that is quite the antithesis to what an ideal democracy actually stands for (i.e. being selfless). 

Just because someone might strongly advocate for all native plant gardens does not limit your aesthetic choices -- in fact, it also expands your ethical ones, connecting you to your family, your children, your children's children, and all other humans and species who are bound together in ways we ignore in every aspect of our privileged lives. We are a navel gazing group, and at the first call of thinking beyond the self we expend more energy denying real freedom than enacting it; that's freedom to have clean air, safe water, a sound agricultural system full of beneficial pollinators, and a secure economy based on all of the above. Native plants in a garden maybe won't save the environment, but they'll get us thinking about when and why the environment needs saving, and how to think in a radical new way to make it happen.

1 comment:

Mom of 3 said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you about water conservation and use of native plants, but disagree that we are a democracy. We are a republic, a nation of people who elect officials to represent us and our interests in Washington. That they often don't is an unfortunate failure of the system.