neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Detroit)
neonvincent ([personal profile] neonvincent) wrote in [community profile] ontd_political2011-07-10 06:22 pm

Drudge makes Oak Park's "War on Veggies" go viral

Here's a story I've been following on my blog since July 30th, when I posted Oak Park Woman plants vegetable garden; city objects. In it, I summarized the situation.
the Bass family of Oak Park lost their lawn when the sewer line running under their front yard was replaced. Instead of replacing it with a lawn, they replaced it with a vegetable garden. Their neighbors complained to the city and the city has cited them with a criminal violation of city ordinances. The Basses and the city have a court date on July 26th.
Mrs. Bass posted a more complete summary after I wrote (and she read) the above. Please read it.

I'm not surprised this controversy is taking place in Oak Park. When it comes to enforcing BAU norms of middle-class respectability as a way of maintaining property values, Oak Park does not play. Oak Park is so afraid of catching what they think Detroit has, which is blight, that they restrict what property owners can do more than neighboring cities and enforce their will with a vengeance. Put your trash cans out too early or leave them out too long and the police will ticket you. Let your grass grow too high and the city will mow your lawn for you and then bill you. You can only hold two yard sales per year and you have to inform the city in advance. If you want to drink wine while dining in the city, you're out of luck; there are no restaurants with liquor licences. The list goes on and on.

Of course, the people who live there and like it make a point of saying that the police will arrive before you hang up your call to 911, but all the above is the flip side of what the locals praise as "great city services." I hope their property values and middle-class sensibilities are worth it.

Personal aside: When my wife and I were looking for places to live in Oakland County, my co-workers who lived in Oak Park tried to convince me to move there. Unfortunately, when my wife and I looked at houses in the city, we were less than impressed. We got a very conformist, unfriendly, and not-at-all fun vibe from the place, so we decided to look in Ferndale and Royal Oak, which were more to our liking--not that those towns are immune from sustainability-related issues involving zoning. Ferndale has chickens and Royal Oak has Kroger. I'd rather have those controversies, thank you very much.
Beginning Friday, July 8th, the number of hits on that post began climbing dramatically. When I investigated how that happened, I found out that Drudge happened.

A couple of days ago, Matt Drudge placed a link to The Agitator's post on his front page with the headline "Woman faces 93 days in jail for planting garden in front yard..." Since then, the story has spread like wildfire. Here is a list of the media sources I've found covering this story with links to their articles (Hat/tip to April Alexander at Urban Homestead Diaries for compiling most of these).

Grist: Michigan woman could face jail time for growing a garden

Treehugger: Michigan Woman Faces 93 Days in Jail for Planting a Vegetable Garden

Huffington Post: Woman Could Be Jailed For Vegetable Garden

Washington Post: Julie Bass may face jail time for planting vegetables

Look at that progression. Not only are the environmental publications and the avowedly liberal Huffington Post on board, one of the two national papers of record, The Washington Post, is now covering this story. The issue has even attracted attention from overseas.

The Daily Mail (UK): Woman faces jail for growing vegetables in her front yard

A check of Google News shows 66 results for "Julie Bass", all of which are about this story and are all from July 8th or later.

As for how Drudge was indirectly responsible, he drove traffic to The Agitator, which drove traffic Julie Bass's blog OakParkHateVeggies, where she has a link to my post. Even from three steps away, Drudge increased my readership. Behold the power of Drudge.

In case you're wondering what you can do about it, there is a petition. 4,400 people signed it by Friday, less than a week after it was put up.