字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント In 2015, 75-year old Gerry Suttle was sitting on her porch watching the leaves rustle in the trees when a cop rolled up and handed her an arrest warrant. The reason for her arrest? She had failed to mow her lawn. That's right. The cops and Suttle's neighbors deemed it necessary to hold the threat of arrest over this septuagenarian because the turf grass occupying the space in front of her house was left unchecked. How did we in the United States come to this? Why is the lawn such a sacred space in white suburban america? This is the story of the American lawn. How it came to be, the complex underpinnings of its green blades, and how we might work to rid ourselves from its cultural grasp. This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream, which now comes with Nebula for free when you sign up using the link in the description. A Brief History of Lawns: In the 17th and 18th century, landholding european aristocrats were getting jealous. They saw beautiful fields of grass and perfectly trimmed patches of green in the paintings of their favorite artists and wanted all of it for themselves. So, they began to terraform their world. With the enclosure of common land, aristocrats gained prime property for lawns and forced lower class peasants into wage labor jobs like groundskeepers and gardeners. From France, to Italy, to England, the wealthy ruling class embraced the luxuries of turf grass and used it as a foundational element in landscaping design for their manors. And what could be more a display of capitalist power, of leisure, and of wealth than a field of green that had to be closely watched and tended by former peasants forced into wage labour through land enclosures. “It was a way for these English elites to show off that they were so wealthy that they didn't need their land to grow food.” That's author of Lawn People, Paul Robbins, on the podcast 99% Invisible. He goes on to add that the English ruling class used lawns to show that “they could afford to let their fields go fallow, and could afford to keep grazing animals and scythe-wielding peasants to keep it short.” The lawn began as a display of wealth for the white european aristocracy, but then was quickly exported to the colonial project that is the United States. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington enjoyed wide manicured lawns kept perfectly trimmed by the forced labor of enslaved people. But it wasn't until the 1870s, when the push lawn mower, the sprinkler, and the suburbs all sprouted into the American lifestyle that the lawn became a reality among those outside the ruling class. Having already been established as a symbol of luxury and leisure, the lawn was adopted in the outskirts of cities and soon turned into a symbol of conformity as well. Through advertisement after advertisement, and eventually neighborhood codes and laws, a patch of grass in front your house became a staple in the image of the American dream. But in the 100 years following the Civil War, the lawn was only slowly taking up space. After World War II, however, the adoption of the American lawn exploded. Soldiers came home from war, suburban sprawl accelerated at an astronomical pace, and the chemicals used in the trenches now found their way onto plants and insects. With the suburban boom came the boom in lawn culture. We even see this in the deluge of lawn ads in magazines around that time period. With thousands of Americans now proud owners of lawns, chemicals of war rebranded themselves into pesticides and herbicides to keep the grass green. And by the 1960s, this chemical warfare got so bad that Rachel Carson noticed the death of birds all around her, prompting her to write Silent Spring. But those that predominantly benefited from the generous post-WWII government programs like the GI Bill and guaranteed home loans that fueled the adoption of the lawn were white. In short, the suburban lawn was very much a white American reality. In fact, throughout its transformation and expansion, the monoculture suburban lawn worked in tandem with its owners to crowd out any plant, animal, or human that didn't fit within their definition of beauty, conformity, or civilization. The lawn was (and still is) a tool of colonialism: The lawn quite literally allowed rich white american colonists, and then middle class suburban whites to physically enact colonization of land. While indigenous genocide raged, cows brought from europe ravenously ate the native varieties of grasses, but colonists quickly realized their cattle were unsuitable for American terrain. The European cows just couldn't get enough nutrients from native american grasses. So, the colonists brought Europe to the Americas and planted the seeds of european grasses which sprouted out of the ground and pushed out native prairie, plants and animals. In short, the origins of American turf grass are rooted in the colonial terraforming of indigenous land, an act which, in a small way, legitimized the wholesale theft of land in the minds of white Europeans because it now looked much more like the European countryside they were used to. Much in the same way the United States massacred the buffalo, a staple food source highly important to indigenous plains nations, as well as forced the assimilation of thousands of indigenous children at violent boarding schools that quite literally tried to beat any cultural or linguistic heritage out of them, so to did the they use European grass varieties like Kentucky Bluegrass, to transform their landscape into one that fit their white european vision of the world. But the lawn is not only wielded as a tool of cultural destruction, but it also is fueling multiple environmental crises. Lawns are fueling environmental destruction: Now, in the midst of droughts and the climate crisis, turf grass lawns are starting to look a lot less appealing to own, let alone spend time to manicure. In the United States, the emissions from lawn maintenance equipment like gas-powered mowers account for 4% of the country's total annual carbon emissions. This number is so large because turf grass is the largest crop by area in the United States. Lawns occupy 40 million acres of land in the United States which is roughly three times the area of America's second biggest crop: corn. And all of this grass requires a massive amount of water as well. Every single day, U.S. lawn owners collectively pour 9 billion gallons of freshwater onto their lawns to keep them green. A lot of this water often hits sidewalks or roads, rarely making it into the roots of plants and often running off into local waterways, carrying all the chemicals that American lawn owners' use on their grass. According to the EPA, lawn owners douse their lawns with 78 million pounds of pesticides and 90 million pounds of fertilizer every single year. Traces of these chemicals are not only ending up in waterways and our drinking water, but they're shredding animal and insect populations like the monarch butterfly. And these are not only harmful to plants and insects, some lawn care equipment like RoundUp has been linked to cancer in a number of its human users. We are quite literally ravaging the planet and ourselves to maintain a little patch of green in front of our houses. And in some cases, like Gerrry Suttle, it's forced on us by cops and the state. The lawn, with its history of class, race, and colonial oppression combined with its penchant for ecological destruction, must die. But to do that we must provide real alternatives that not only replace the grass below our feet but also repair the harm caused by American capitalist conquest. Lawn alternatives: Understanding that lawns are intimately linked with visions of class, settler-colonialism, and capitalist ecological destruction is essential for developing effective and lasting alternatives. If you own a lawn, the simplest thing you could do is to just stop taking care of it. But I think that this approach should be seen as a last resort. In order to repair the harm caused by centuries of lawn colonization, we need to develop real alternatives. Think about what we could do with that 40 million acres of space if we rid ourselves of turf grass. Front yard gardens with food available to all who want it, native perennials and gardens that actually synthesize with the landscape, xeriscaping in dry climates that don't require any water to maintain. These endeavors are already happening, with thousands of backyard farms replacing lawns across the country, a recent Southern California incentive paying residents to rip up their lawn, or Taylor Keen, one of the Omaha people who's been developing and growing indigenous seed varieties in his boom backyard gardens. These are the actions we need to take. Because, to start the process of decolonization and thriving in a zero carbon world, the lawn must die. If you're watching this video wondering whether there are more people getting arrested for not mowing their lawns or you just want to learn a bit more about the connection between lawns and settler colonialism, you're in luck. I actually did write an extra section about lawn control and settler colonialism, but it got left on the cutting room floor. So I've uploaded that section as an extended edition of this video on the streaming platform my creator friends and I built called Nebula. 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