Challenging Lawn Order: Barriers, Bylaws and the Biophilic City
September 16, 11am • Many cities in North America are adopting and enacting policies that support and encourage native plant and wildlife diversity (biodiversity). In the face of climate change, ecological health and resilience can be improved through protecting and enhancing native species in parks, public spaces and private yards, while improving public access to nature. More than just the essential ecosystem services provided by living landscapes, cities also need the vital benefits of biophilia — the “nature fix” — that is increasingly understood to be critical to human physical, mental and social wellbeing. At the same time, most cities still maintain and enforce property standards bylaws that effectively undermine biodiversity, and nature more broadly, through upholding the lawn as a homogeneous norm. This presentation challenges the normalization of the lawn as an outdated, colonial structure of order and control, and argues instead for planning frameworks and design strategies that support biodiversity specifically, and an equitable biophilic city more broadly, as essential to ecological and social health and wellbeing.