Common Flower

July 27, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Social, Society

For two years now, the first dandelions of spring popped up amongst the grasses of the Post Office here in Evanston. I noticed the yellow flowers during the ides of April while handing out pie-chart war budget leaflets to taxpayers sending last minute missives to the IRS. It is public property, our local commons, that harbors my favorite flower since there is little budget to pay employees to make sure the grass stays green.

Three miles away on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago is perhaps the greatest dandelion garden in the region. Along both grass embankments on that scenic stretch of roadway are public lands offering sanctuary to a blossom usually despised. The flowers go crazy. Earlier this decade, during an uncannily balmy January that followed a mild fall, yellow dandelions still lingered along the lake front highway. No single experience has so alerted me to the changing weather than the appearance of winter dandelions.

In a society that deeply respects the personal, the independent and the individual, it’s not surprising that this flower that thrives in the commons is so scorned. In addition, the dandelion is not a native but a visitor from overseas. Perhaps if its origins were local it would get respect.

I am fascinated by the commons. Not wild, not tame, these are the places that get little attention in our culture where the alternative, less cultivated perspectives can emerge. Near to where I live, rare prairie seeds and hard to find local species have been uncovered along railway lines and between the ties. These long, thin stretches of unattended wildness covertly connect the various personal holdings across the state.

The commons, those areas that anyone can visit, are places where creativity can emerge. Public mails, rails and roads are integral to a society that requires connection to thrive. Imagine other ways that commons can be encouraged, making it possible for new species of thought, foreign and domestic, to spring up, enhancing the experience of all of us traveling through this transitional time.


This entry was posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2008 at 7:02 am and is filed under Social, Society. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. Grace Richardson on April 27, 2010 4:07 pm

    My comment here isn’t so much on the “common flower” as such, but that comes into it. What I’ve been struck by, in what Andrew says in the Youtubes, is, among other things, the concept “horizontal.” This has a strong resonance for me (as does the concept neoteny, which I’ve long thought an important aspect of the creative process & how it works). I have been conscious, throughout my adult life, of a desire/need/fellow-feeling for “horizontal” relations with others. At one time I thought this was just,or at least partly, the sign of being a perpetual teenager: my mother died when I was 13, and I found the older generation, not so much “bad” or “wrong” as just sort of useless–just not really THERE. Siblings, in the sense of the “sibling society” (as used by Robert Bly; though my feelings about it are different from his), seemed the only people I felt right with (not my literal siblings; things weren’t good with them). At first I thought in terms of my generation, but as I grew older, working in offices with, eg.much older people (and as I grew older myself, I found it with younger people)–rather than age, it was the type of relationship. Often groups, non-hierarchical, and all somehow on the same level. When I read Robert Bly’s book THE SIBLING SOCIETY, the title spoke to me; I felt, even before reading it, that it was what I was. However, I was interested to find that he deplores this aspect of modern life; as he grew older, he grew more and more ionterested in “vertical relations.” I saw his point, but also saw that I was a sibling, whether Iliked it or not. and so many people I know feel this way.
    It’s not a “negative” thing, as he views it (or doesn’t have to be); it is, rather, the way society is evolving. And I was very interested in what Andrew says about Obama’s election campaign showing signs of this new consciousness. For the first time, I realized there was something to be seen there that hadn’t occurred to me before. Maybe not desirable in itself, but with potential for leading to somethjing new. You can be moving in a new direction without even realaizing it. You can just think you’re a perpetual teenager without realizing that you are, in fact, part of a society which is evolving in a way it needs to evolve. I’m not putting this very well, but the word/concept “horizontal” is beginning to have a whole new meaning for me.

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