November 29, 2012

I thought this was interesting.  Shows how we value certain animals over others.

Paul Kuczynski – more paintings that question various aspects of our society.  Many of them have to do with what we’ve been talking about in class.

Lady Gaga Ferns

November 26, 2012

Two species of Fern have been named after Lady Gaga.  Scientists say that they both have DNA sequences that begin “GAGA” and that they resemble the singer’s frequent costumes.  “We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression”, says Professor Pryer, one of the scientists responsible for this naming.  The ferns reproduce, like most, homosporously.  They also are able to produce offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant – through asexual reproduction and their high number of chromosomes.


Lawn People

November 14, 2012

Why do people who are more educated seem to be the ones using chemicals on their lawns?

a look at apolitical ecology

1-Choice-they just chose to do regardless of consequences.

2-culture- the behavior is embedded in the individual’s life and tradition.

3-economy- people usually influenced by the “culture” aspect market for the behavior and promote it. YAY Capitalism

4- human vs nonhuman- we tend to think that we control the outcome of all things
“The proposition that the lawn is a political and economic network also should provide us with a better portrait of       our selves” (pg 14)

– “Material ideological apparatus” : a whole of system of ideas through the elements of the ECONOMY are represented back to individuals as a NECESSARY  and sensible, immediate daily way of life”(pg 15)

Are Lawns an expression of American culture?

-” Of the fifteen major world crops today, ten of them are grasses”

-The lawn became a space in gardens in France in the 1500’sv and even more “important” in 1700’s England, when it arrived to the US it was in public places and still imported.

-Aesthetic- The lawn was to be an open space, “inviting” like the parks where people were to be as  a community.
In the early 20th century  the aesthetic rules of the lawn was desired but few people actually had space for it.

after WW II people began to move more and more to the suburbs for variety of reasons thus “culture lawn” was more prevelent

The grass will be just fine with minimum care so why do we put so much time into it?
-“the grass has to be all one color texture and weed-free”

So naturally it is hard to keep the grass this way!

-it will pollinate, natural browning, insects will come,it will seed and decaying components.

Why do we even have neighborhoods who have a standard Lawn “rule” 

start at 3;04






Eco-friendly mosquito killer for the lawn

November 14, 2012

Mosquitoes are annoying to both man and beast. Some mosquitoes, however, can transmit diseases. Although the application of pesticides on lawns will kill mosquitoes, these agents can pose risks to human health and the environment. Some biological pest controls are safer than conventional pesticides, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Botanical Controls: Volatile oils in some plants can repel and kill insects. Organic lawn and garden products formulated to counter mosquitoes often contain a combination of plant oils, including the essential oils of rosemary, thyme, peppermint, sesame, wintergreen and thyme

Microbial Pesticides:Microbial pesticides are naturally occurring microorganisms, such as fungi or bacteria. The most commonly-used microbial pesticide is Bacillus thuringiensis, each of which produces a unique combination of proteins that target and bind specifically to gut-receptor cells of mosquito larvae as they feed, causing them to starve.

Beneficial Insects: The praying mantis feeds on mosquitoes, as well as other common lawn and garden pests.

Bats: Another weapon in the war against mosquitoes on the ground is to fight from the air. Many of the more than 1,200 species of bats aggressively hunt flying insects.To employ bats as a natural mosquito control, you must purchase or build bat houses for them to roost in.


The Grass isn’t Always Greener..

November 14, 2012

NatGeo actually has had a lot to say about lawns over the past decade, from the frivolous golf courses that dominate the American Southwest (that is still stuck in a drought, by the way) to our obsession with our lawns here in the Midwest.

Here is a website dedicated to “Lawn Science” do people get degree’s in this?

And here’s a weird one.. A website called Christian Science Monitor (actually reports pretty unbiased information) talks about .. you guessed it suburbia’s obsession with their lawns. This article was published in 2006, so clearly this has been growing for a long time.

Or did you read any of the articles about people getting in trouble with their communities because instead of a lawn they had large gardens. So not only do we care about our lawns we care about their lawns.. where do you think this comes from? Where do you think it will take us?


Lawn people

November 14, 2012

This is what I think of when I hear lawn people .. now go ahead and imagine all your neighbors being stuck in the ground and climbing out. Perfect.

To me, your yard should be full of things you can eat and untamed bushes and flowers. I would never cut the grass if I thought I could get away with it. My neighbor across the street cuts his grass every single day. WHO IS THIS MAN WHO CAN SPEND THAT LONG DOING THE SAME THING EVERY DAY?! How do American’s have so much time to spend on our lawns!?

Growing up my yard backed into a farm field, which in turned backed into the woods.. our yard was the beginning of a jungle, a stage, a resting place. Our yard was an in-between of sorts set between the house and the wild, and as children we loved it.

My family in Arizona has astroturf instead of grass. Weird that even though they have lived there for years they still don’t feel right without having that greeness in their backyard. They also have walls around their yards, that are so high that you can’t even lean over them to talk. Here in the Midwest lawns are a social meeting place, so even among American’s our lawns mean different things.

How much money do you think the average American spends on their lawn? And what about the people that hire someone else to take care of their grass. Think about that for a moment.. there are American’s that have enough money to PAY someone to come take care of their grass.. what?!

I think it’s funny that we think of our grass as “natural” who honestly believes they’ll find that just out and about? I tried to Google lawns from other countries.. and got nothing.

Lawn People

November 14, 2012

Over all I found this book very interesting. It amazes me how many people are concerned about how their lawns look and how much money they put into them. As the book pointed out it tended to be the educated and wealthy that tended to put the most time into their lawns. What bothers me the most is that some people care more about their lawns than their pets going as far as putting boots on dog feet so they can go out.  In my world pets come first then the lawn. I don’t understand why it is so important to have a nice lawn. Sure if you live in an area that requires you to up keep you lawn I guess I get it but all the chemicals and fake grass where is the point? Especially when our fresh water reserves are starting to dwindle and we waste it on our lawns. There are ways to water you lawn and be “green” about it (before 10 am or after the sun starts to set. This reduces evaporation which then doesn’t “burn” the grass), but no one seems to care. Over all this book was an eye opener to the history of the grass and how people view it.

As a child I never had a huge lawn, though I did have a decent sized one. I often played in the front or back yard either by my self or with the dog/s. I often went out after storms and collected worms to make worm soup. I always played out side on the lawn: I had pretend picnics, laid in the sun, played, and so many other things out side in the yard.

Lawn People (Ch 5-8)

November 14, 2012
  • Many products are deemed necessary to keep up ones lawn. But how many of these are truly unnecessary?
  • The production of a lawn mower has a huge negative impact on the environment (aside from the fact that the lawn mower itself while in use emits high levels of pollutants that cause smog–5% of air pollution). All it’s parts are made in different parts of the world. And when brought together to construct the final product petroleum and raw minerals are used.
  • For the companies who work with pesticides–they know that each new pesticide will need about 10 years to show profit after it is made, and then it shall only last for 20 years overall, before the stuff it’s supposed to kill grows resistant.
  • In a study about the use of chemicals on lawns they found: when homeowners apply their own high input suit of chemicals-there is no significant difference than those who applied no chemicals at all. And professional applicants fared only somewhat better. (this is according to levels of dandelions, ground ivy, and buckhorn). If there seems to be no real change at least according to this study why do we apply these chemicals in the first place?
  • 57% males and 11% females between ages 14 and 17 who work outside have been exposed to pesticides and other chemicals in work. They are handling potential toxic substances during key years of physiological development with ramifications that may last for the rest of their lives.
  • Contrary to popular belief, higher education test to coincide with higher use of lawn chemicals. Why?
  • People who claim an interest in what is going on around their neighborhood, and who tend to be able to list a greater number of their neighbors by name, are far more likely to use lawn chemicals.
  • Even people who are concerned of the use of chemicals on their lawns (especially in relation to pets, children and environment) still use lawn chemicals. These anxieties do little to curb behavior. Excuse – trust in experts, hectic lives which leave little time to worry about lawn chemicals.
  • There are alternatives to using chemicals and pesticides on one’s lawn: Planing new communities–native species who tend to be low-maintenance (because they are evolved to suit that environment), resist weeds, and attract birds and other wildlife. Some of these species may be of the nut, fruit or berry tree producing quality, a way to make “edible landscapes”. Clover (considered the bane for lawn managers since the mid-century) usually requires minimal watering and no mowing. It is cheep, comfortable underfoot, and evergreen. Unlike turf-grass it actually restores soil health through nitrogen fixation. Moss is another alternative a lot like clover.
  • Under IPM, pests are tolerated to a point and actions are taken for control of insects or weeds only after their numbers and effects become unacceptable.
  • In a servery on alternative methods of lawn use, 39% of Americans say they use some form of non-chemical control (hand-weeding, new cultivars etc) 33% replaced some portion of lawn with another ground altogether. 11% have eaten wild species, especially dandelions; off their lawns.
  • The Wildlife Habitat Program, has worked to encourage and protect homeowners who seek to attract wildlife to their yards through landscape alternatives.
  • In virtually every municipality in the US homeowners are required by law to cut their grass on a regular basis and keep the property in a “neat and clean” manner, usually setting a maximum lawn height of six to eight inches. Cities will generally fine violations of such laws, cutting the grass of those who do not follow such rules and charging them for time and expenditures.
  • One couple’s efforts to allow tropical jungle plants to return to their Madeira Beach, FL, yard-along with fruit trees, shade, and birds, butterflies and insects. Won them a xeriscape award for their water district governing board. City officials, on the other hand, described the concomitant “nuisance plants” and ” dead-undergrowth” as potential habitat for rats and mice, resulting in threats to sue homeowners.
  • Home deeds commonly contain provisions disallowing landscape changes without the consent of homeowner associations.

Lawn People

November 14, 2012

Thoughts, Reflections, Questions:

Table 1.1 was interesting, but didn’t shock me.  It summarized that people tend to put more chemicals on their lawn when they have more education, wealth, and information about the pollution of lawn care chemicals. Apolitical thinking is an interesting concept, I feel like the cultural part of that definition really applies to this situation. Although lawn choices may be individual choices, the influence that the American culture has on the decision of how we upkeep our lawns is a strong one.

Interesting that 10 of the 15 major world crops are grass. And it’s interesting to see that lawns are historically a class indicator and divider. I feel like this is still true today, people with wealth can afford to spend a lot of time or pay someone else to spend time on their lawn.

Why did we choose turf grass to cover our lawns with? I wonder if we could have chosen another plant that would have spread and become as popular. All of the inputs that grass and lawns require make the whole system of maintaining a lawn a very rewarding (if it goes well). Maintaining a lawn is a labor intensive, time consuming process if done right. I think that people want better results from their lawns faster and that is why they have turned to chemicals and fertilizers so much.

I didn’t know that grass had a naturally dormant state, or at least I’ve never thought about it. It makes sense that grass shouldn’t be bright green all year round, all plants cycle through different appearances. The people and the industry all support the ideal that grass should be green and lively for as long as it can. But what happens when we let the grass grow naturally? “Does the industry meet or instead create demand?” (71)

A lot of the neighborhood interviews relayed the fact that people get together and talk about their kids and sports and their lawns. Sounds like these people need more interesting things going on in their lives…

“Unthinking the lawn” (138) is an interesting idea. Like a lot of things that we do today, lawn care hurts the environment which comes back and hurts us. After reading this book it is apparent that Americans and their lawns have a long history and a deeper connection than anyone would admit to. The pride we take in our lawns is something that makes me see people as needing an easy way to feel fulfilled and like they’re doing something good. These suburban livelihoods are nice and peaceful but what will it take to move people beyond that need for such shallow accomplishment? What will it take to have people spending as much time and money on environmental or global issues as they do on their lawn?


Rogue Planet

November 14, 2012

Scientist found a plant that is orbiting around with out a parent star. This is common but only 100 light years away the rogue plant is close enough for us to study its atmosphere. I think this is really neat, partially because i didn’t know planets didn’t need a parent star.