This image shows a European Hawkweek with a bumblebee on it, as evidence of how wildflower (even invasive species) attract pollinators

Disturbing “Normal”

Which do you prefer for your front yard? Beautiful, perfect, manicured grass, or a more natural approach to landscaping?

This image is by Jake Nakos on Unsplash and it is of perfect turf grass, desired by many, for their yards.
Perfect turf grass

One of the youngest winners of this year’s Bondar Challenge questions our pursuit of perfect lawns:

Bondar Challenge Winners

“People still pay a lot of money to get them [dandelions] out and take so long to dig them out.”

Why do we continue to quest for a perfect monoculture lawn when the natural world is in crisis?

We cannot go through a day without hearing of another natural disaster.  Record wildfires, devastating floods, heat domes, record rainfalls – death and destruction that was once something we watched on television because it was happening to people far away from us. Now, it isn’t unusual to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

We have to teach differently in our rapidly declining natural world.

This involves challenging our basic assumptions about our home and school environments.  Monarch butterflies have become an endangered species, and the collapse of pollinator populations threatens our food supply. Simple steps, like intentionally growing food for the very insects that make our life on earth possible, require us to think differently about what is “desirable”.

Kudos to Thunder Bay City Council who recently passed a by-law allowing residents to naturalize their yards. For some, the suggested 50% naturalization by-law did not go nearly far enough, and in the end, this restriction was removed. Residents of other cities are also requesting by-laws that protect the pollinators that make life on earth possible. [Update: CBC Interview with John Walas]

The new by-law allows “turf” to be replaced with native plants, increasing biodiversity in the city, providing “corridors” for many species, and providing some protection for properties from the ravages of storms that have become the new normal.

It’s heartening to see primary students and elected leaders who understand the need to see beauty differently.

As educators, how can we change our own practice to promote actions with our students and in our communities that contribute to biodiversity and the health of our ecosystems?

Featured Image: Donna Miller Fry, July 30, 2022

Green Turf Grass Image by Jake Nakos.


  1. Are you “Willing to be Disturbed”? A chapter excerpt from Margaret Wheatley

2. We must become good ancestors and better neighbours.

3. EcoSchools: The Roberta Bondar Challenge for 2022-2023

4. Undivided Attention: Taylor Mali

5. The Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum reveals the world has crashed through the ‘safe limit for humanity’ for biodiversity loss

6. Who are the Pollinators? David Suzuki Foundation

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