25 April 2012

Planting my own seed in the guerrilla gardening movement

Guerrilla gardening attempt.

A couple of weeks ago, Richard planted a tree. This isn't a new occurrence for Richard. He has planted many trees in our yard before that are all growing nicely.

This tree is a renegade. An illegal. A product of guerrilla gardening.

Across the street from our house, there is a patch of dirt where a sidewalk tile never was. The patch gets trampled everyday as students from the nearby college trudge to and from class. The row houses behind the patch are rented properties that looked very rented. Meaning, the people that live in the structure do less than inhabit it, they abuse it.

I used to be like that, so I understand the mentality: if you don't own the property or structure, there's very little incentive to care for it, maintain it or improve it. For me, that meant beer stains on the carpet, scuff marks from black-soled shoes and water damage in the bathroom that I merely shrugged my shoulders at. Not my problem, I thought. I'll be out of here in a few months.

Things have changed, though. I now own the property I live on. I have invested lots of time and money to make it look and function the way that I want. And most of my actions have been contained to within said property lines, like painting shutters, landscaping the backyard and adding raised beds to the bare, concrete slabs out front.

Until now.

Baxter checking out the tree.
This tree is not motivated by a need to provoke social change. I am pretty well convinced that young twenty-somethings are content to have trash strewn about the streets and alleys, while living in dwellings that just meet code. So I feel no need to motivate them to care for this patch of dirt that I see every time I look out my front window and that my dog waters every morning on our stroll.

Some guerrilla gardeners, like Erik Knutzen, coauthor with his wife, Kelly Coyne, of "The Urban Homestead," see the act as "a reaction to the wasteful use of land, such as vacant lots and sidewalk parkways."

I just want to mend an eyesore.

See it in there?
After a quick perusal of the Internet, I am pretty sure the dirt patch belongs to the City. Technically, if they find the tree, they have every right to tear it out by the roots. But from the look of the neighborhood, and the look of the city budget, I doubt anyone will mind, even if they notice.

Just a couple of weeks into this guerrilla gardening foray, I predict the biggest threats will be feet -- particularly the stiletto heels of drunken collegians -- or lack of rain.

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