Friday, April 27, 2007

Eco-Living in the Burbs had a recent article about HOA nazis that I found rather amusing - there are some local developments that come to mind when they are discussing the aversion to hanging out laundry. Saving power to dry clothes? How gauche! It's not like our garden produces enough for us to live on, and it's not like we have solar panels, but we do compost, we do garden, and we do hang out laundry - Colorado is well-suited to that. I don't care if our neighbors find it gauche or think that we are white trash for doing so - it makes ecological sense and our wash also can get done faster, and there is nothing in my HOA to forbid it.

As an aside: the last time I can remember seeing someone else hanging out wash was on a train trip about a month ago between Philly and Harrisburg - specifically, when passing through Lancaster, the place of my birth, you could see farmhouse after farmhouse hanging out wash. And that's in PA, which is much more humid, and much less sunny on average. Frankly, I think Coloradans are leaving a lot of money on the table by not trying to harness the sun to at least dry their clothes.

Anyway, the idea that aesthetics (and perceptions about "property values") can trump truly long-term planning for sustainable living just hearkens back to some sort of mythical 1950's suburban paradise that never did exist, anyway. Some of these covenants specifically rule out composting, for example. And vegetable gardens! Sorry, that's just crazy and irresponsible.

One comment as a result of this article evokes what pops into my mind:

I have a mental image of the masses living in these regulated subdivisions, huddled in their 3,000 sq ft homes trying to keep warm in the dark during power failures(no solar/wind power of course- how tacky), gnawing on their manicured lawns (calorie content of tulips?), wearing smelly dirty clothing(clothes lines are so lower-class), with their 3 car garage filled with the SUV's they cannot fuel......

Of course, Colorado does have a dash of sanity in its laws. Even the most draconian of places like Highlands Ranch cannot stop someone from having solar power, at least. I'm not sure about wind, though, and laws like this really ought to be at the federal level, too. Also in those comments was one from Israel in which the commenter notes that putting certain things into new houses is instead required there. Sounds a lot more forward-looking than the morons running some suburbs here...

However, Colorado does have one extremely backward law - the law against rainwater barrels. Gaiam sells such devices - you can put them under a downspout to divert water into and then hook garden hoses up to. Those are illegal in Colorado. I imagine if water becomes enough of problem, that might be repealed. I'd imagine before that happens, lawns might be made optional instead of required in some 'burbs, and maybe even illegal.

To be honest Sean there are a number of laws about how high a wind turbine can be for private use. In fact in most cases it isn't high enough to make it worth while to put one up. This might be a little different in the flat land, but was definitely a problem in the mountains.
Oh. I guess it's not too surprising, as so many would find this an "eyesore", they have moving parts and have the potential for noise, while the panels or other systems have only the visual aspect for neighbors or HOA nazis to complain about.

While Colorado does have lots of wind, too, I would think getting the panels or some other solar systems would be the low-hanging fruit since Colorado definitely gets a lot of sun.

One place Denver/Colorado really needs to get under control and work towards the future on is water issues. I did find that the site that corresponds with the WorldChanging book does have some by-city localization, and Denver has a sub-page on there, and what do you know, water is a recent entry on there:

There are obviously lots of transplants to this state that need to be educated that this is not the East coast, and that while having a meticulous yard that serves no purpose other than aesthetics seems a tad goofy in the East, it borders on the insane in the high plains, at least not without some re-thinking about such things as rain-water barrels, etc. Obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks so, and others seem to be waking up to this. In fact, just the other night, I was at Costco and noticed they had a book on Xeriscaping right there....that's an idea that definitely seems to be hitting the mainstream. Of course, it's copyrighted, too, so there's a profit motive. I go to Costco several times in a month, though, and always browse the books, and that's the first time I've seen such a book.
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