Friday, August 7, 2009

Orland Police station starting to get national recognition for Green commitment

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When I first saw the "weeds" growing around Orland Park new police station at 151st Street just west of LaGrange Road, I was a little shocked. It really looked bad. Finally some signs were put explaining that this was a first step in a village-wide Green Initiatve, to co-exist with the environment in a positive way.

But over the past two years, I have become accustomed to seeing the prairie weeds around the station. And they are trimming the grass along the easements along the streets giving it an "intentional look," rather than a bureaucratic goof -- someone forgot to pay to have the lawn mowed.

Then they put up signs explaining what they were doing. Fine. And ever since, the move has drawn a lot of national attention. Of course, those reporters don't have to drive past the police station everyday to take their kid to summer camp or school.

This week, the station got a nice feature write up in the Chicago Tribune, giving it some real prominence. The Tribune explained what it took several years for neighbors here to realize that the decision to let the "all natural prairie" would result in positive environmental things like conserving water, eliminating the use of lawn chemicals and pesticides, and reduce the carbon emissions from lawn mowers.

The whole idea is the brain child of Orland Park Mayor Dan Mclaughlin. I give him credit. This whole Green-thing has not been easy for any of us. But the Green Initiative has put Orland Park on the national map in a positive way. (Of course, maybe some of the au-natural prairie growth is the result of stores closing down in this terrible economy burdened by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's oppressive sales tax that County Commissioner Liz Gorman has been so far successfully fighting to change.)

Several years back, I actually got into recycling at our home. I am amazed today how the balance between recyclables and garbage has shifted so dramatically. Before, we had maybe one plastic container of recyclables and two large garbage cans of garbage. Now, I have barley one bag of garbage and I have to struggle to find garbage to toss in one can to put out every Thursday while the recycling container -- this huge blue plastic thing that has to be lifted by a recycling truck hoist -- overflows.

They pick up the recycling once every two weeks and the garbage every week. I think that should change and grab the recyclables every week and the garbage once every two weeks.

And, because I live in the Green Initiative Capital of the World, I went out and spent just under $100 and bought my self a souvenir from the past. A hand-pushed lawnmower. Yes, it has a set of four rotating curve blades that spin when I push it over the grass. I bought it at Sears. It took a few minutes to put it together. Wasn't bad and it tested great. Okay it was raining Friday afternoon when I finally got it out on a test flight and the grass cuttings were sticking to everything.

When I was a kid, we had one. But then, when I was a kid, our lawns were about two square feet in size in Chicago with bungalows packed together like sardine cans.

But I figure, hey, if Mayor McLaughlin thinks going Green is important, fine. I'll do it. Doesn't mean I won't pull out the Toro lawnmower now and then, especially when the grass grows like a jungle. But now that it's getting into the warmer weather and the grass growth is slow and weak, why burn up all that gasoline and ruin my son's future.

The Carbon Imprint at the Hanania household is going to get a little bit smaller.

Of course, the other alternative is to let every homeowner turn their lawns into an Orland Park Police Department jungle. Hey. No fertilizer. No more watering every other morning between 7 and 11 am on even and odd dates that match the even or odd ending of your street address.

It might make it easier for the Coyotes that roam Orland Park in packs at night to find more cover.

Okay. Green. It's not my favorite color. But, in today's world, we have to do something to help bring down the ozone layer, slow down glabl warming and bring back that summer sun-tan.

UPDATE: Okay. It's a lot of work. Of course, I tried it when the grass was wet and did the entire lawn. I'm not sure my wife is going to like the grass cuttings tracking everywhere. And while it cuts nice, when the grass is wet, it jams slightly ... but then, I won't always want to rush out and try the new "toy." And it doesn't do a great job with the edges or corners. Okay. Fighting Global Warming has its price. But it is a lot cheaper, for now, than buying one of those new and overpriced environmentally friendly electric-gas combo cars.

-- Ray Hanania

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