But I know that here where once was a sea of tallgrass prairie - that I'm in the minority. Most people in Windsor love routinely-mowed grass. In fact most people in the Western world love the lawn and the history of this love affair has been wonderfully captured in Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker article "Turf War".
While Kolbert history of the lawn largely equates short-grass with material wealth, there is credible evidence that our love of short-grass is genetically hard-wired into our species:
As a reflection on what lawns mean to people, Gordon H. Orians, a professor emeritus of biology at the University of Washington, Seattle, took photographs of a wide variety of vegetation habitats and asked people around the world to rate them. African savannas were preferred by a large margin. We evolved in a habitat where short green grass provided evidence of abundant grazing mammals; pruned shrubs similarly evidenced lots of browsers; and open spaces meant we could see the dangerous lions, hyenas, and other predators.
So how can we - those of us who are actively working to increase the amount of naturalized land in the Windsor and Essex County to sustainable levels - work around this tendency and keep some of the tallgrass in our public places?
I think I've found an answer in the book, With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature by Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan and Robert L. Ryan. This 1998 work distills decades of research into the design of natural spaces into an easily understandable frame work that designers, public officials and citizens can use to design or evaluate local open space.
I'm currently reading the Leddy Library copy of this book and the good news is that there are strategies that can employed to create public spaces that incorporate natural space while addressing people's fears and preferences to outdoor space.