When I moved to 1524 N 21 in Oklahoma City, there were flat mostly empty lawns. Now a mini-urban eco-system flourishes. It is beautiful, it is interesting, even during the depths of winter. But alas for me and my little niche of the ecology during this age of peak oil denial, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and not all beholders are created equal. Some of them carry guns and may compel obedience to their own personal visions of urban beauty and land use.
In case you haven’t figured it out, the code inspectors have been here for a visit. And suddenly, things that have pretty much been fine for a decade are violations. No appeal, no argument, no nothing. They have all the guns on their side, and that is a powerful argument.
So we just spent an hour or so removing all of the beautiful logs and such which have decorated our ecosystem and contributed to the fertility of the property. Yes, they are weathered and slowly decaying, but that’s their function in the eco-system. they are giving nourishment to the land from which they grew, since most of them derive from two elms that were on our property but that were taken down during ice and wind storms, and one large dead tree that was hit by lightening. A large chunk of that tree has been slowly nourishing a peach tree that I planted, but no more, now it is laying on a pile awaiting disposition. There are no comfortable places now on which I can sit and watch my garden grow while petting my cats or my dogs.
Yet these same inspectors have nothing to say about the practices of many of my neighbors, and of Oklahoma City government, who spray toxic cancer-causing chemical stews across the landscape with careless abandon. Who cares if kids get leukemia or women get breast cancer? Victorian England was the mature culmination of landscape design, and we must replicate that everywhere. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Nature is our enemy, it must not be nurtured, it must be whipped into submission. When it comes to ecology, the ruling ethos of the Oklahoma City government is “we don’t need none and we ain’t gettin’ none either.”
They even demand that I enclose my compost pile, even though it is behind a fence and not visible from the street and I am pretty sure they can’t point to a single word of chapter and verse that would actually mandate this. Fine if it makes them happy, but let’s not pretend that it is anything other than the abuse of power that it is.
We are going to attempt to mulch as much of this as we can, some will be used for firewood, some of it is incredibly beautiful aged wood, if anyone artistic is reading this, and can get by soon, and is interested in aged wood for craft purposes, it is laying in a pile in front of 2120 N McKinley, which is the small house behind our house at 1524 NW 21, which is the southeast corner of N Mc Kinley and NW 21.
I guess I’m not surprised that this is happening. I’ve been a bit harsh on some of our political leaders lately, like Mary Queen of Lynch Mobs Fallin, and Tyrant-Emperor Barak Obama, and over the years, there is somewhat of a correlation between code violations and my political rhetoric online. Plus, as systems go down for the count, generally there is one last “push” for the old status quo. Repressive regimes become even more so, wasteful and gluttonous societies build billion dollar highways to nowhere. The feces will always make it to the lowest level, and unfortunately these feces have no nutritional content for compost or biogas.
So OKC code enforcement can be quite proud of their own little contribution today to pushing this nation towards the ash heap of history. They were quite nice personally, one might have been a little more hard coppish, but it wasn’t an ugly confrontation in terms of shouting and etc. I could have made it that way, I was very tempted to denounce hem to their faces for what they were, in the best style of the Tea Party, and as I have often done online to a wide collection of characters in our ruling aristocracies. And ten years ago I probably would have done that, and in fact, did a little of it with some of the inspectors. But these days there are only so many battles that can be fought. However tempting it is to go to the wall to defend my own little patch’s fertility systems, there are bigger and more important battles to fight, and right now I just don’t have the time, energy, resources, and etc to go to war with Oklahoma City over this.
I’m even making plans to move my elderberry patch, since if they are going to be moved in the next year, now is the time to do it, and the inspectors implied that during the summer, they would be back with line-of-sight violations. So some annual beds will trade places with the elderberries.
Also in danger are my beautiful native roses (Rosa arkansas) which line one of the streets, and every year we trim them so they do not obscure the stop sign on the corner. She’s going to check on that and get back with me.
I am not the only person in Gatewood neighborhood who gardens close on to the curb. If not common, it is not isolated either. I can think of two houses in particular, right next to each other, which have even more foliage than I do. They however do not blog criticisms of the powers that be, so they are left alone, and I am glad of that.
All of this is complaint driven, the inspectors do not come out to my house on their own volition. Some real person or persons called this trouble down upon me. I am glad they are leaving others in the neighborhood alone. Sure, it’s not very constitutional to single someone out because of their politics, but we are like imperial Rome. They maintained the symbols and fictions long after the substance of the Republic has degenerated into the Empire, and we follow their most august example. These days the Constitution isn’t much more than a sentimental symbol.
Some may well wonder what the big deal is anyway, including my code inspectors, who may eventually even read this since it will be posted on the internet and tens of thousands of people may eventually see it (my collection of websites generally receives about a million user sessions a year, from 108 different countries). Well, the big deal is fertility. Sure, I could haul in fertility, and I have to do some of that anyway. But as time goes on, I’ve been having to haul in less fertility. When I take a soil sample to the county extension office for testing, the results are crazy. “I don’t know how you can grow anything there your nitrogen is so high.” I can’t find one right now but I will dig one of them up and edit this in a day or so to include the data.
Why not allow nature to be part of the process of my urban garden?
Permaculture principles at play here include stacking functions and redundancy for important/critical systems, and fertility is most definitely a critical system where redundancy is necessary. Not forgetting “use small and slow solutions.” And “favor natural/biological solutions.” All of which now become problematic in my little schema of things.
Well, permaculture is nothing if not about adapting to changing circumstances. So we’ll see what can be done, there is always something to be done about a damaged eco-system. We’ll just have to think and observe for a while and see what we come up with. Something will sprout, I’m sure of it, one nice thing about biology is that the hope of new life springs eternal.
For the record. . . The logs in my garden serve these functions: (1) Slowly composting and giving fertility to their area, (2) Habitat for beneficial insects, (3) Many of them are nice places to sit, (4) Many of them are cat petting perches, (5) Many of them serve as the borders of various beds and divisions in my eco-systems, (6) They were all deliberately placed where they were to fulfill specific functions, (7) They are landscape art.
They are not trash and debris, as the city defines trash and debris, but because I am a special case, they are in fact magically transformed into trash and debris, and they must be removed or the city will remove them for me and pay a private contractor a gold-plated price to remove the items, and then put a lien on the title to my house so they get their money.
So it goes, one more speed bump on our peak oil quick trip to the ash heap of history.
In the spirit of Christian charity, and called to do so by the Gospel, (even though I don’t want to, lol.. . . people who pray should pray for my intention that I receive a more grateful heart about this) . . I am willing to forgive all involved with this for the violence and destruction they are causing to my household eco-systems. I just picked the music for the Sundays of Winter Ordinary Time, and coming up in February, we Catholics will hear two long readings from the Sermon on the Mount, with full and complete instructions on how we should deal with those with whom we have disagreements. The code inspectors were lucky that I recently (yesterday!) had such a vivid reminder of the norms of Christian life and praxis otherwise I might be contacting a lawyer about now instead of writing this minor elegy in a melancholy key about this government-mandated destruction.
You know, as I write those words, I had a sudden glimmer about how destructive government can be and typically is. I am very lucky that the destruction at my place is being accomplished by due process of law, and I am allowed to do the destruction myself, so I can save and conserve what I can.
Even at this late date, there remain some advantages to being white.
If I was in Afghanistan, the destruction likely would have been accomplished with napalm, or fuel air bombs, or soldiers kicking the door in, or terrorists planting roadside explosives, and if I was in New York, I might have been on the receiving end of airliners transformed into missiles at the behest of enemies of our particular government.
Or I might be a child starving to death. Every minute that I have spent writing this little elegy, 12 children elsewhere have died from hunger-related issues. 720 an hour. 16,000 every day.
So the destruction and due processed violence at my house is a small thing in the greater scheme of things and in light of what is happening elsewhere. A lot of that happens, though, because we Americans are such gluttons and poor stewards of the resources of this finite planet. This system, however, will only tolerate a certain amount of independent thought and action on that subject, and if you cross that line, it’s defense systems mobilize and treat you as the threat that you in fact are to their selfish gluttony.
I will not forget what has happened.
I will increase my already not-so-insubstantial efforts to create alternative structures in the midst of the collapsing ruins of the old. When Oklahoma City hits the ash heap of history, an event that is likely to be sooner rather than later, we will all need such alternative structures. Got a local food system? Got a local energy system? Got extra insulation? Got an alternative economic system?
The time to build the cellar is before the tornado hits.
The time to create alternative structures is before the ruins of the old collapse entirely upon the ash heap of history.