when i think of the word "landscaping", what comes to mind is gardening, naturally (that being what i do). but at the bay friendly lanscaping conference we found ourselves surrounded by not only those who design, install, and maintain gardens, but also countless policy-makers, land managers, and city employees for the parks, forestry, energy, water, and transportation departments of state and county and city governments---- all gathered together around the idea of doing things better.
naturally, you would think, there is no way to get a high-end landscape architect, a grounds-crew manager, and an activist edible landscaper together to talk in a civilized manner about anything, right? wrong!
for the entire day we found common ground, and a shared belief in our ability to do things better; to really effect a positive change in the world, not just making things pretty, but making things work in more efficient, community empowering, and ecologically sustaining ways.
a real eye opener.
one speaker in particular put things in the proper perspective nicely, when, while talking about his early efforts planting trees for communities in LA, described the connections that exist within such a seemingly aesthetic field: he started planting trees for people.... but then no one took care of them and they died. because-- planting a tree does nothing, but rallying a neighborhood, and assisting them with resources and information, he was able to create an environment where trees became important, and community members took it upon themselves to plant and maintain the trees. lesson: step one to planting a tree in an urban environment is not digging or fertilizing or pruning or grafting or mulching. the first step is creating the proper human climate and human environment wherein that tree can thrive.
that speaker has now moved the city of LA in the direction of recognizing itself as a watershed, and integrating its resource management departments into a collaborative effort to find natural and systemic alternatives for flood control, irrigation, water importation, soil management and waste water treatment... and gotten them to plant some trees, too.
give a family a tomato and they'll throw it away after it rots in the back of the fridge while they go out to eat. give a family a garden and the tools they need to manage it, and they will eat for a lifetime.