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Backyard/Head, Lesley //Hardb/1920831517/S017-G
University of Wollongong Press
How do we think about our backyards? What do we do for domestic leisure?
What do we want from nature? Cats or birds? Vegies, flowers or native shrubs? Are natives better? What are the ethics of lettuce?
These and many more questions are answered in a study that uses suburban backyards from Sydney, Wollongong and Alice Springs as a window onto Australian environmental attitudes and practices.
Personal discussion with backyarders sits in counterpoint to scholarly mapping of broader historical and social trends.. The book also puts that 'dialogue' into an accessible discussion of current theories about the environment and ideas of nature and change. We are all enmeshed with the non-human world, and there is no easy way of separating out pure wilderness and strict urban functionality. Humans are natural too.
Many of us love our backyards: they're where we spend a lot of time growing up as kids and more time once we retire. Their importance can be seen in TV programs such as 'Gardening Australia', 'Burke's Backyard' or 'Backyard Blitz'. But our backyards are also a cutting edge between nature and culture: a space of boundaries and boundary crossings, and a zone of conflict between 'eco-nazis' and 'stylists'. What is 'homely' to one is 'mess' to another, but both seek a space for relaxation and belonging.
Among its diverse sample, the research identifies both commonality and differences in our environmental positioning. Trees, lawn, cats and native plants provoke a spectrum of responses between love and hate. In comparison, there is much more of a shared ethic when it comes to water and birds.
This book originates in the discipline of geography but has relevance for readers interested in urban studies, sociology, popular culture studies, environmental studies, ecology and planning. It is engagingly written and generously illustrated in a format that will both please on the coffee table and impress in the university library.