Sterile Grass in Lawn, Bryn Athyn College

In Albums: Bryn Athyn colleges

Uniform, yellow-green grass with not a sign of any other plants in it

Apr 23rd, 2011, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows a sterile-looking grassy lawn. This photo was taken on the campus of Bryn Athyn College in Bryn Athyn, PA. Contrast this photo with a photo of untreated grass taken a block away.

This grass has obviously been heavily treated with synthetic herbicides, because naturally, lawns do not grow as a monoculture; other plants (different ones, depending on environmental conditions) will tend to grow in the grass. This grass has also likely been heavily treated with fertilizer, because naturally, a monoculture of grass will not look such a vibrant green color at this time of year, in april, especially when it does not contain any nitrogen-fixing plants like clover.

These chemicals have negative impacts on the environment; the decreased biodiversity makes this lawn have less ecological value than it otherwise would. The fertilizer runs off and contaminates the water, causing negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems downstream. The chemicals can be harmful to wildlife feeding in the area, not to mention humans. This lawn is right in the middle of a college's in an area where people walk barefoot or sit on the grass at times. It seems outright negligent to use such chemicals in areas where people will be exposed to them.

Furthermore, the aesthetic of a sterile, uniform lawn with a single species of grass and no other plants, completely devoid of biodiversity, is one. We can choose which aesthetics to embrace. The aesthetic of sterile lawns is an aesthetic of control and domination over nature. It is an aesthetic that ignores or rejects ecological principles.

I would like to call on Bryn Athyn college to stop the practice of treating their lawns with chemicals. Bryn Athyn college is a religious institution, associated with the New Church, a religious group which views the writings of theologian Emanuel Swedenborg as central. Although I am not a member of the New Church, I have many friends within it and many of their beliefs and teachings resonate with me. I fail to understand how the treating of this lawn with chemicals is at all consistent with the teachings, doctrine, traditions, practices, or culture of the New Church and the community existing in and around Bryn Athyn, PA.