She was in marketing. I tried marketing writing once, I said. But I like solid ground beneath my feet. Facts. Oh, she said, I wondered when you would get to that. You know, marketing has that image. Fluff.
For a few minutes, she defended marketing ably: it's about projecting a strong brand image customers can trust and respect, she said. So that when something like Exxon happens, the company won't go under. I thought she was doing well up to that point.
Actually, I said, I'm retiring from high tech in a month or so. I'll be doing a kind of marketing writing myself. Advocacy, for the environment, for California's native plants.
It's something I've been thinking a lot about, lately, and discussing with Ms. Town Mouse.
When Ms Town Mouse and I were driving between California native gardens last Sunday, we talked (as she mentioned in her last post) with some dismay about how isolated the native gardens looked in their suburban setting of lawn after lawn, edged with the same old could-care-less shrubs, for the most part.
Gardens that are neither ecological nor native, any more than the smooth green - soon to be golden - hills above them are. Those hills were transformed into grazing lands for cattle and are dominated by Mediterranean grasses, just as the suburbs below are dominated by alien grasses. Lawns like that require water, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, a lot of gasoline-powered equipment, and time to keep them in trim.
When I made my first garden here - this is what it looked like:
|The lawn was just freshly unrolled, and the dahlias I later grew in the borders had not yet been eaten by gophers.|
I quickly grew tired of edging and mowing even this small area of turf. And all it attracted were armies of spiders, that made it impossible to do the very thing I had installed it for: to enjoy relaxing on, after a swim.
Native gardens are so much more interesting, bringing birds and butterflies and native bees, and they take less water, little fertilizer, no herbicides or insecticides, and actually they take way less time to keep in trim. Here is the same area in 2012:
|Same area in 2012|
It isn't all natives, but it mostly is. It isn't perfectly neat or perfect in any way, really. The fuzzy grayish area near the fence is a coast sunflower in which I suspect some birds are nesting, so I'm leaving it be till summer. But it is SO much more interesting - And All I do is pick a few weeds out each week, and as I do so, I enjoy looking at how things are coming along.
So why are people not "getting the marketing message?" We wondered. They have - we all have - so little time. But it's actually more work to maintain the lawn. But then it's also fairly cheap to pay for a "mow and blow" service that keeps up the conventionally acceptable appearance.
It's not the amount of physical work, I suspect. It's the mental work involved. When you don't know about natives, what to pick, how to care for them, you feel discouraged. We none of us have much mental energy left after a busy day with work and kids and parents. Meals and household chores. Mentally, the effort to maintain a lawn-with-shrubs is minimal, and you can get on with other parts of your life. It is perfectly understandable.
So maybe I think I still need to be in the fact mode - the best marketing is simple information.
Written in haste. Gotta go to work. More another day on this topic - Helen Popper talking at one of the gardens we visited.... And plants for shady areas....