A drought! Are you serious? I don’t think so . . . or maybe it’s more I don’t want to believe so . . . or even more that I don’t want to change. Or do we? I’m not sure if people do or don’t want to change, but people ARE changing in my neighborhood. Including me. I have been a reader of The Utility Zone for less than six months. This is a newsletter written by the City of Fresno’s public utilities department. It comes with my parents’ water bill. They showed a picture of what your lawn should look like, which was mostly brown with some green. It had a message to conserve water, sacrifice your lawn, but save your trees. This spring it seemed many in my neighborhood were overlooking the drought and nourishing their lawns. I personally felt strained on the inside, pulled by questions. Do I value green and water-hogging, or brown, dry and water-saving?
I really like green everything lawns with flowers. Actually, I r-e-a-l-l-y like green everything whole neighborhoods. School ended, it is summer and my bike rides around our neighborhood with dad increased. Things had changed! My new observation was that about 50% of the people in my neighborhood got the same message and were letting their lawns go. Others had made other eco and water friendly choices by installing desert scape or artificial turf. A few even looked like they completely turned the water to their lawns off. (See my graph below.) In the past, my mom’s face would have half crinkled, half frowned and caused her to say something sad about a foreclosure. Now it’s OK, it’s even a very good thing, and people are still living there. I noticed I still like the green lawns, but I like the golden ones too, and I love the desert scape lawns best. They have the most unique and interesting plants to stop and look at. Another observation I made is this . . . the bigger, and nicer, and greener and most cared for front lawns in our neighborhood made the biggest statements. I mean I noticed what they did or didn’t do the most. When I said this to my mom, she explained it like this.
These lawns had the most status and prestige and admiration of the neighborhood. Because of this, these lawns have the biggest opportunity to be the leaders of change. When these lawns change, people notice, and that leads to others changing. That’s powerful. I didn’t feel powerful before. As one house I didn’t believe letting our lawn get patchy yellow could make a difference. But when I see the majority of our whole neighborhood doing it, I really feel like this is a difference. Now that I’m paying attention, I’m noticing more. I care about what I do or don’t do more. It keeps growing inside me. The best part, caring really feels good. Does it matter what one person does in a drought? Yes. Because it can lead to a neighborhood conserving water and feeling good about it. As a follow-up. After I wrote this my mom got her thinking face. She said, maybe that’s why some people haven’t stopped watering yet. Which was a question I still had. They really care about their lawns and caring that much really makes them feel good. Maybe they’re not changing because down deep they are afraid if they stop watering they will stop feeling good. Finally here are a few questions to ponder while you are thinking about how to conserve water. Do people’s back yards look the same as their front yards? Will we ever be out of the drought? Are the changes we’re making really our new reality going forward?