Monday, November 03, 2008

Helping Build the Grass Roots

In this election season, there's lots of talk of getting out the vote: organizing people, and working the grass roots. But what about the other grass roots? The ones under our feet? It's always a good time to be thinking about how to empower them.

Halloween on our block is a great tradition. We close the street with a block party permit; lots of people decorate their houses; and, we get over 200 kids through for trick or treating. One of our neighbors, a young couple with young kids, is raising the bar in terms of yard care.

Before Halloween, he raked all his leaves and swept the sidewalk. So, maybe in an expression of a little positive peer pressure, three or four of us immediate neighbors all followed suit. Well, okay, I didn't sweep the sidewalk.

Afterwards, I walked over to compliment him on how nice his yard looked. His lawn is perfect, which is quite a feat on our block. We have one of those tree canopied blocks. A neighborhood lady some sixty years ago went around and made sure every house had a street tree. So now, we enjoy great shade, but, it's hard to grow a nice lawn under all that shade.

Somehow, a few neighbors still manage. This fall, our new neighbor with the great lawn, had his lawn aerated with a gas powered aerator. He overseeded and fertilized; and, this week, his lawn is growing and bright green. It's a thing of beauty. Wouldn't it be great if every lawn on this shady street was so nice? How could we make that happen? Apply block science.

We do lots of things on our block as neighbors. There's a block captain; we have a block wide email loop; we have a block party; kids play together; adults socialize, we share ladders and other tools; and, have a great Halloween. We look out for one another. All of these things improve the quality of life. So, just maybe, working together, we could green up everyone's lawn?

Home Depot rents aerators. Our lawns are not big, so in about 20 minutes, we could knock out a lawn. At a rate of 3 per hour, with the 50 or so houses on the block, in one weekend, we'd have the job done. Aerator's rent for about $80 a day. For the weekend, that works out to less than $5 per house on our block.

We'd need to line up workers, with shifts and that. But think about it. Group aerating, group fertilizing, group seeding, watering across property lines, covering for the elderly or physically challenged, we could make it work. We could have the best lawns in the city. This is a project that we could do! This is a project we should do!

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