a few nights ago i was in a gardening class sponsored by the city of seattle. the presenter was talking about places you could put a garden, and of course he mentioned the very commonly under-utilized front yard. he said, with a bit of disdain, “some people have lawns that go all the way up to the front of their house, but that’s just not pretty at all!”

and i cracked up laughing, remembering the city planner from oak park, proudly puffing out his chest and telling the media that a nice lawn and some bushes or shrubs was what they wanted to see in front yards in oak park.

what a difference, and what a contrast!

another thing that struck me: in oak park, the “beautification committee” had a paltry 6 members, although it was completely free, open to anyone, and well-advertised. one of the members was in her 30s, but the rest were all elderly grumpkins who all wanted to sit around and complain about their neighbors whose yards weren’t as beautified as their own. they only gave awards for flower plantings, and those only if they were planted “neatly” and “attractively”. they sat around and schemed ways to give out less awards than the year before, despite the fact that the city wanted these awards given to encourage the citizens to spruce up their properties.

in seattle the gardening class was packed. i literally had to wait in a very long line to get in, even though everyone who was there had registered in advance. they provided free snacks and went out of their way to get engaging and knowledgeable speakers. they offered prizes at the end of the class, drawn by raffle, and enter you in a grand prize drawing if you go to all four classes in the series. they gave really cool handouts, packed with valuable information, and repeatedly told us about a free hotline we could call for more advice or to get step-by-step instructions for more complex endeavors. they are passionate about people taking responsibility for their land, even if it is only a tiny parcel, and they actually walk the walk, with city policies that encourage you at every turn. they WANT you to take initiative and be creative and just rock out with your garden- the cooler the better!

oh, and at least one city worker thinks lawns are not so pretty and gardens are a much better use of your front yard space ๐Ÿ™‚

i was tempted to warn him that he should be careful before coaching people to engage in illegal activities, but i figured i would let it ride and just enjoy the class… and wouldn’t you know- i DID enjoy the class!

so, go seattle!

i can’t remember what the next class is, but the last class in the series is about setting up rain barrels, so *h better get his tools out!

exciting stuff here- what’s going on in your neck of the woods???