Happy summer! This truly is my favorite time of year. While living in Boise has helped me appreciate all four seasons for their uniqueness, my soul is nourished for the whole year after a few months of heat, swimming, music festivals, and camping! As we approach Independence Day, I am reflecting on the importance of freedom to me, and how much I value being able to do what I want when I want to do it . . . and how frustrated I feel when I am stuck in a pattern that someone else seems to control. This is true in my relationships and career choices, and it also applies to how I shape my personal space at home.
I feel free and creative when I experiment in the yard and garden, and my priority is creating an edible landscape that welcomes a vibrant and diverse ecosystem in tune with the local climate and free of toxic chemicals. I would feel so inhibited if I lived in a community with rules that told me I couldn’t create the scene I wanted. And yet, so many people live in regulated communities with strict covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) that limit their efforts to be more sustainable through xeriscaping, urban agriculture, nontoxic maintenance, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
Several years ago, I partnered with the Idaho Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to address this issue, and we published a report called, Greening Your CC&Rs: Strategies to Improve the Sustainability of Your Neighborhood (followed by a synopsis in The Advocate). This report outlines problematic language, suggests better rules as alternatives, and describes the various procedures for how to implement change. In the name of freedom and independence, I have decided that it is time to dust off this report and get back to work on helping people eliminate outdated HOA rules. Because to me, there are few things more annoying than a rule I don’t want to follow!
Instead of rules that mandate poisons to kill weeds, how about rules that encourage species diversity and healthy soil? Instead of rules that characterize clotheslines and solar panels as unsightly, how about policies that value energy conservation and renewables? Most CC&Rs have an assortment of provisions that inhibit sustainable actions, and people tend to be unaware of them until they want to implement prohibited techniques. But we can be proactive and change the rules instead!
I’d love the chance to meet with homeowners associations and subdivision residents to come up with solutions that will build community and improve the ecological value of our neighborhoods! Please contact me if you’re interested, and share this message with others!
One of my favorite things to do is think, and I love exchanging knowledge with people trying to improve our community. This space is for me to share some of my musings in the hopes of adding more layers to our collective conversation. Please comment and share freely!