A few years ago, my then-neighbor Kevin (alas, he and his wife moved away!) and I heard about a city project to build new sidewalks and rain gutters for the intersection of two streets close to me. Since we were both new permaculture design graduates, we thought we’d bring the ideas learned there, about rain gardens, and plants and trees and swales — in short, capturing and holding and utilizing rain rather than funneling it into pipes — to the relevant city department that deals with those things. So we called them up and made an appointment.
The day came when we were seated across the table from city staff, who graciously received our sketches and the reasons for them. They asked lots of questions. To further buttress this alternative point of view, we sent two permaculture teachers, Keith and Peter of the Permaculture Activist, to a further meeting with the city to flesh out the ideas.
Deed done. We waited for results.
A year later, the city started to work. And what happened? No plantings, rain gardens or swales. Instead, the original standard, highly engineered, massively expensive design that they had decided upon in the first place.
Huh? I was stunned.
It was as if our permaculture alternative had dropped into a void.
Lesson learned? When working with the city, stay with the process. Don’t assume anything. Call or meet with them once a week, etc. Do not get discouraged. The city responds to its constituents, but not without constant pressure.
Here’s a great little video, thanks to that same Keith, for the pointer.