Veröffentlicht am 21.07.2012 von TheCasualGardener
Shawna Coronado’s website – http://www.shawnacoronado.com
Nancy Loo from WGN News recently covered a feature on Shawna’s behind-the-fence community garden which has been under a garden controversy. Shawna has been labeled a „Guerrilla Gardener“ and faced persecution from the city of Warrenville, Illinois. Below is the full written story transcript. Coverage of this story was fully by WGN – this video story was reposted with full permission.
Nancy Loo, Reporter / Pam Grimes, Producer / Mike D’Angelo, Photojournalist / Steve Scheuer, Photojournalist WGN News
May 15, 2012
Gardening season is in full swing. But a particular garden in west suburban Warrenville has become a battleground. And as Nancy Loo reports in tonight’s Cover story, similar situations have likely taken root in your community.
„It does grow quite tall it grows almost four feet high and the city’s asking me to change that and take that down. So I’ll have to dig up about 75% of the garden.“ That means extra work for Shawna Coronado in the gardens outside her Warrenville home. There’s no mistaking the love and attention paid by this gardening author and blogger. And the beauty stretches from the front yard to her backyard. In fact, even beyond her backyard fence in a strip of land Shawna can’t even see from her home. „And these primulas are very special. A woman gave them to me, they were her grandmother’s.“ It is quite attractive. And many neighbors appreciate it. „So you come by several times a week? Oh that makes me feel so good!“
However, this is not Shawna’s property. It belongs to the city of Warrenville. And as is the case for many homeowners, the area around her mailbox is also on what’s known as right of way property. Shawna thought both gardens were in easements, areas in which many municipalities will generally allow for some plantings without a permit. Warrenville’s Community Development Director Ron Mentzer explains. „But if somebody wants to do something extensive on our property on the city right of way, that’s when we require them to submit, apply for and obtain a landscape license and covenant agreement approval from the city of Warrenville.“
The city acknowledges the attractiveness of Shawna’s work on public property. But who’s on the hook if such areas become overgrown or if the homeowner moves away? Shawna agreed to a 35-dollar permit fee and 40-dollar county processing fee to avoid a daily fine of 75-dollars. However, both sides are still going back and forth on Shawna’s vision for the space and what the city will allow. Plantings cannot be too tall, and the boulders can pose a hazard to people on the bike path. „Occasionally you’ll see a weed. But mostly it’s just a lot of love.“ Shawna admits she’s an accidental guerrilla gardener. Her situation is small potatoes in a bigger movement known as guerrilla gardening. „I think guerrilla gardening at its best can be civil disobedience.“ Ben Helphand is the Executive Director of NeighborSpace, which works *with* the city of Chicago to develop and cultivate community gardens.
Despite those efforts, guerrilla gardens are everywhere. Helphand says what amounts to „graffiti with plants“ can succeed in highlighting the need for more green spaces. But it can often be problematic. „People are scared that if somebody plants a guerrilla garden that they’re not gonna come back and take care of it and pretty soon it’s gonna be overgrown.“ That is not the case out in Warrenville where Shawna wonders why more residents with mailbox gardens or plants on right of ways aren’t also paying fees. Former Warrenville Alderman George Safford says the battle is unfortunate since both sides want what’s best for the community. „I hope it doesn’t stay a thorn because Shawna is just too good a positive influence. I don’t want to see her bruised in any way either. It’s in all our interest that everybody get along.“ Warrenville’s Ron Mentzer now stresses that when in doubt, ask before you plant.
„I think if you were gonna start gardening on your neighbor’s property would you ask them for permission to do that or would you just go do it?“ „I do agree with following the rules,“ says Shawna. „And I don’t have a problem with that. However, I don’t think that people who are trying to improve the community by beautifying it, should be fined.“ Shawna believes Warrenville should do away with the fees and fines since residents like her are spending their own money and time to beautify public property. She even donates fresh produce to the local food pantry. But the city argues that enforcement is merely part of responsible government. And critics of guerrilla gardening worry about people planting on toxic sites. Nancy Loo, WGN News.“