Book Review – Lawn Peoples: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make United statess Who We Are
Paul Robbins’Lawn Peoples( 2007 ) analytically examines why in-between category Americans are obsessed with keeping the “perfect” lawn through the usage of American history, national studies, economic information, air exposure analysis, and interviews with place and concern proprietors ( p. seventeen ) . Robbins has structurally organized Lawn People into eight chapters. The first two chapters explain who lawn people are and if lawns are an look of American civilization, while the following two chapters negotiations about the inputs of taking attention of the lawn and whether these inputs are risky or non. The 2nd half investigates the lawn chemical company, the motives of lawn users through national studies and interviews, options to turf grass, and in conclusion, how people become turf grass topics in the lawn economic system ( p. xviii-xx ) .
The lawn is the fastest turning landscape in the States, and due to societal norms and duty, is given the most attention and attending than any other natural infinite ( p. thirteen ) . The chief statement for this book is that the lawn manipulates adult male and although adult male thinks they are Masterss of the lawn, the lawn is in fact the one in control. This statement is strengthened by each chapter in the text explicating broader issues within urban sustainability, such as the toxic nature of keeping sod grass through the usage of pesticides, the lawn attention industry, and the unusual societal civilization of holding an aesthetically beautiful lawn in a community. Robbins non merely highlights lawns as being a job, but offers solutions by proposing different lawn options and general regulations that people may follow so that they will non be controlled any longer ( p. 139 ) .
The text does a antic occupation explicating how lawn people came to be by associating the yesteryear to the present through economic, political and societal relationships. Robbins explains the features of lawn people, proven through a national study, as being informed, educated, and reasonably affluent ( p. 2 ) . Surprisingly people that use these chemicals are good informed of how toxic the chemicals are, but still experience the demand to keep their lawn due to societal force per unit areas and the lawn civilization of their community. Robbins begins to explicate how people are controlled by lawns in chapter 2, where he dismisses the myth that lawns are from American civilization. He starts off by explicating the political and societal side of the lawn in these earlier chapters nevertheless, concludes these subjects by demoing that the lawn is used as a vehicle for keeping societal systems and is a portion of an economic vision for consumer citizens ( p. 32 ) . Historically, he explains the spread of the modern lawn and explains that big lawns were available to people for the first clip during the postwar epoch, typifying democracy and societal infinite. He besides pulls from the aid of historical figures such as Frederick Law Olmsead, the interior decorator of Central Park in New York, who claimed that unfastened infinite would take to community interaction and unfastened activities, bring forthing American civilization instead than showing it ( p. 27-28 ) . Although he expresses that lawns are used for an economic vision for consumer citizens through unfastened community activity, he asks an insightful inquiry: do lawns necessitate high degrees of input ( p.32 ) ?
This brings us to the economic side of lawn civilization which is investigated in the latter half of the book. Robbins introduces his readers to the lawn industry and asks whether the chemical companies produce or fitting demand. In these ulterior chapters he besides explains the challenges of the lawn industry as a market every bit good as the hazards of their inputs to the environment. Robbins explains that the pesticide industry is under increasing force per unit area to happen and bring forth their markets but found a manner to make demand with householders through advertisement that played on the values of community life in a vicinity ( p. 93 ) . These advertizements show beautiful manicured green lawns which make consumers believe that a perfect lawn will do them happier and more fulfilled. The turf grass in these advertizements shows that the lawn helps with the bonding of kids, parents, and nature.
However, this absolutely manicured lawn comes with a monetary value in footings of care. As historian Virginia Scott Jenkins explains, “front lawns are the merchandises of two elements: the ability and the desire to turn and be given grass” ( p. 45 ) . Keeping the lawn requires the direction of bugs, weeds, fertilizing, and irrigating. Edmund Russell ( 2001 ) , the writer ofWar and Nature, explains this fact farther by conveying up America’s most dry natural park called the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. He explains that even though it is a natural park, it is “one of the most toxic sites in the world.” This is because of the sum of chemicals that are used to keep the safety which contaminate the land every bit good as their H2O beginning ( p. 1 ) . He farther describes the relationship between war, nature, and human history which is a great analogy when it comes to the care of the lawn. What’s worse is the fact that the toxic environment is right by your place where your household hangs out. Robbins dedicates a whole chapter to the history of pesticides and lawn direction and explains that although the chemicals have utmost grounds of being toxic over the past decennaries, the lawn attention civilization is really immune to increasing environmental cognition ( p. 71 ) . As Russell and Robbins show, worlds have started a war against nature and even though we think we’re winning, we’re easy killing ourselves every bit good as the environment. Robbins is in no manner stating that the lawn is to fault, but he is demoing that lawns do non needfully necessitate these toxic inputs to bask their value. He shows that chemicals are non merely a job with lawns but in our day-to-day lives which is proven through the illustration of keeping flat edifices to acquire rid of insects and plagues with chemicals such as propoxur, permethrin, and diazinon. Chemicals are so arms used against nature ( p. 71 ) .
For the shutting chapters of this book, Robbins recommends utilizing lawn options to pull off plagues in our lawn alternatively of our traditional attack, such as a method called IPM ( Integrated Pest Management ) ( p. 119 ) . Farmers are utilizing IPM methods today and implement direction with harvests alternatively of using inputs to command pest issues. IPM patterns choose to hold weeds such as blowballs and other workss to come in the lawn alternatively of holding a clean cut manicured lawn. IPM does non seek to command nature and tolerates plagues alternatively of our traditional attack of utilizing pesticides and fertilisers. Furthermore, more options and general regulations are outlined in appendix A that summarizes things that consumers should maintain in head such as the figure 1 regulation: “you do non hold to hold a turf grass lawn” ( p. 139 ) . He explains that the pace does non hold to hold grass and you can make other things with it such as seting a garden, holding shrubs around trees along your fencing, and xeriscaping ( which is low-water attractive nonorganic stuffs ) . Naylor ( 2012 ) discusses this regulation every bit good and explains that the front pace can be used for gardening to entree locally grown nutrient. In fact, some places use a service called “hired gardens” to educate themselves farther about organic nutrient to hopefully extinguish the nutrient stat mis of a community in the hereafter ( p. 492-493 ) . However, this type of alternate isn’t perfect either and has a few jobs since it does non realistically extinguish the front lawn issue. However, it is a start to acquiring in touch with nature and is a great lawn option.
This is decidedly a must read for middle-class conservationists who think that consciousness is the key to urban sustainability. This book proves that although people are witting of the environmental state of affairs, most people worry more about what people think than universe issues which is greatly shown through lawn attention. Overall, I think Robbins does an first-class occupation explicating the history, economic sciences, societal, and political facet to lawn civilization. He besides recommends solutions to the job through lawn options. Even though he presents brief observations for each subject, he offers adequate grounds and research to explicate his places. Furthermore, Robbins leaves our society with advice proposing that act uponing objects, such as the lawn, symbolizes the managing and changing of ourselves, therefore we must “unthink “ the lawn by acknowledging it as a comrade species ( p. 138 ) . In other words, the thought of commanding nature must come to an terminal and we should seek to populate peacefully with nature alternatively of seeking to pick a battle with it.
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Naylor, L. ( 2012 ) . Hired gardens and the inquiry of evildoing: Lawns, nutrient gardens and the concern of ‘alternative ‘ nutrient pattern.Cultural Geographies, 483-504.
Robbins, P. ( 2007 ) .Lawn people: How grasses, weeds, and chemicals make us who we are. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Russell, E. ( 2001 ) .War and nature: Fight worlds and insects with chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.