(Not) Understanding the Suburban Mentality

 

Mulder: “I mean, is it so damn important for everybody to have the same color mailbox?”–The X-Files, “Arcadia”

Okay, I admit, the mentality of suburbanites and gated-community dwellers just plain mystifies me. I used to be a little more philosophical about it–live and let live–as long as I don’t have to live there. Or even visit people I knew who lived there. Until I really became aware of the environmental impact of the suburbs (back in my late teens/early 20s–so a while ago *wry laugh*).

Little Boxes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUoXtddNPAM

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States

Let’s temporarily forget about (not that you should) the acres upon acres of wilderness (in Florida, where I’m from originally, it’s the already severely diminished wetlands and swamps) that fall prey to the developers’ chainsaws. Let’s look at the communities themselves. Instead of renovating an older home or apartment building, there’s this trend where everything has to be brand-sparkling-new. This one young person I knew actually said those specific words when she was complaining about her old-building rental. So, now, because people don’t want to live in a place that’s been used and lived in by someone else, they help contribute to the destruction of the environment, because of all the new construction materials that have to be manufactured to build these perfect new homes. And, typically, they are pretty cheaply built on top of that. Or, if there’s an old home on the site, it has to be demolished and carted away to a landfill, generating more environmental issues.

So, having ignored all of the above, I don’t understand why you would even want a cookie-cutter home that looks like all the others. Boring. Plus, how on earth do people even find their trendy brand-new home, after one too many mixologist-concocted drinks, if they all look alike? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLxC1bJmF_Uhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLxC1bJmF_U)

Then, the lawn mania. It astounds me how obsessive people still are about having perfect green lawns. All day long, every day, you’ve got people or lawn crews out with lawnmovers, leafblowers, weedwhackers–the noise is constant and it’s all…day…long. One couple even had a ShopVac that they used to vacuum leaves off their lawn–seriously. People, having those green lawns, especially in Florida, takes a toxic combination of chemical fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. And guess where all that stuff is going, especially in coastal communities? Yep, right into the waterways. (http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/dark-side-lawns) And, it seems to me that it’s completely unregulated. Even organizations and people who are supposed to be advocates for environmental protection and protectors of our natural spaces not only use things like Round-up, but are strong supporters of its use. (I know, I contacted some local representatives of these organizations directly). You know what that causes? http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/us/florida-algae-pollution/http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/us/florida-algae-pollution/ (This recent news item is the main inspiration for this article, by the way.) I can also speak from personal experience. Red tide used to only happen maybe once a year when I was growing up. When I was living there more recently, red tide was happening practically year-round. When I was growing up, there were less turfed green lawns–now everyone seemed to have one. And, of course, there’s the dead zone in the Gulf. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/080415-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-above-average.html. So, what can be done about it? Even for those of us trying to fight it, it’s difficult when the local city and state politicians are corrupt and firmly on the side of developers and tourism. See examples here: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150630/ARTICLE/150639959  and  http://www.srqmagazine.com/srq-daily/2016-03-26/3713_Institutional-Corruption and http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150319/ARCHIVES/503191026

This paper espouses a stronger viewpoint about the state of things in Sarasota: http://sarasotaphoenix.net/

Sadly, even when people strive to implement xeriscaping, or try to use mulch beds in combination with native plants, they then resort to using Round-up to keep the weeds out. Which makes no kind of sense whatsoever. I mean, why bother with the environmentally friendly landscaping if you’re just going to dump Agent Orange Round-up all over it?

I hated to leave Florida without being able to affect any kind of change whatsoever. It felt like I was abandoning it to the mercy of the people who just wanted a beachfront paradise/condo–abandoning the swamps and the natural Florida I loved as a kid. But I couldn’t afford to live there among all the rich snowbirds, and an opportunity opened up to get out of that conservative hellhole.

So, I moved to New Mexico. Santa Fe. Where I’m at, at least had a little bit of a rural feel–a touch of the wild. There’s a ditch right by my driveway, and it was lined with beautiful flowers. Tall yellow flowers that followed the sun, and little orange and purple flowers. Essentially, lots of green growy things that helped take the edge off moving to the desert from green, lush Florida. And it was so quiet–no sirens, no SWAT teams running down the street, no gunshots,  and, best of all, no lawn equipment.

Then I was woken up (7 am on a Saturday morning, no less) to the sound a weed-whacker right outside my window. Yep, all the lovely wildflowers–gone. All the lilies around my rain barrel–gone. The whole lovely meadow, full of waving, shimmery grass in the compound–gone. And now the compound is coming after me because the area lining my gate looks “messy”, so, by the laws of the unit, I have to get rid of all the growing things along the fence.Or some of them. I still don’t understand what they are talking about. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to weed out. It’s no different than when I moved in. To me, it’s just beautiful, wild nature.

I don’t really feel like I belong in this world–it makes no sense to me.  I’ve never felt more like a social misfit then I have this week. And I’ve always kinda been the odd one out.

I have some things to figure out about where to take my life from here…to continue the fight and how best to make a difference for this planet and all its wonderful plants, animals, and other natural elements.

 

 

 

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Author: The Chaos Realm

Copy Editor/Proofreader, Historian, Freelance Writer, Virtual Assistant.

17 thoughts on “(Not) Understanding the Suburban Mentality”

  1. Yes, suburbia just frosts me. I planted our front yard in our prior home with a porfusion of blooming flowers. People used to stop to take photos and leave me notes. The HOA wrote me up for not having “approved ground cover.” They were like The Fascists of Conformity. Now I live on 8 acres surrounded by a 1200 acre nature reserve. These neighbors ROCK!!!!

  2. My education of Florida has been through Bloodline. I’d be looking to live in a purpose-built refrigerator if I hailed from there. But I’m from a country obsessed with home ownership with the architectural imagination of a match-box. The rest of your post just confirmed my right to the cry at the prospect of moving into a new one soon (true story).

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