Thursday, August 21, 2008

Richard Reynolds

For Salon, Lenora Todaro interviewed Richard Reynolds, author of On Guerrilla Gardening.

The opening exchanges of the interview:

You promote a very genteel attitude toward guerrilla gardening in your book. Gardening on public land is illegal, so it's usually done at night, but, you argue, always be polite -- to passersby, to authorities. Is it your aim that guerrilla gardens ultimately be legitimized, like many of the community gardens in New York City?

My tactics are about preventing getting told to stop. Discretion and politeness are part of that; reaching out with propaganda at the right time is part of that too. If guerrilla gardens can get legitimized that's great. The guerrilla approach in my experience is very useful for getting to that point, but of course it's not always possible or necessary.

You use a lot of war imagery. I understand the origins of the word "guerrilla" point that way (from the Spanish for "little war"), but does it have to be a war? It seems more suited to a peace movement -- flower power, literally.

Flower power sums it up exactly. War, like gardening, is about destruction as a means to creating a better civilization. Guerrilla gardeners fight neglected land, fight the scarcity of land and fight the pests in their way. But of course using garden tools and flowers means our approach does not draw blood. Frankly, people who see gardening as something devoid of anything warlike are not in my experience serious gardeners but whimsical dreamers, the type of people who feel guilty pulling up weeds and foolishly imagine the best kind of garden is one in which humans have an absolutely minimal role -- the wilderness, for example.
Read the complete interview.

--Marshal Zeringue