Setbacks

I’ve had a bit of a disappointment this week. While I was at school on thursday a man from the condo management company showed up as a result of a complaint made by a resident and instructed my dad to remove our compost bin, claiming these are forbidden in multi-person dwellings by city by-law. I haven’t been able to find conclusive evidence of such a by-law – in fact our city website presents nothing but praise and encouragement for back yard composting. Regardless, however, of the question of legality, what really irks me is the thought that one of our neighbours has nothing better to do than to peer into others’ gardens, and upon seeing something they don’t like, to take that complaint to the management like a child who’s seen a classmate being naughty. Wouldn’t the polite and, dare I say it, adult thing to do be to first speak with your neighbour about your concerns? We live in a long row-house with gardens out the back that are fenced on two sides, with a strip of lawn running beind the open gardens. Our living room has french doors that look onto the garden. I see people walking back and forth on this strip of grass all day long and have always assumed they were simply out getting some fresh air. It makes me awfully uncomfortable to think that they might actually be taking a quick look at everybody’s garden (and perhaps inside, too), checking for the least violation of the owner’s agreement that they can then gleefully report.

I don’t understand the appeal of condominiums, I’m not sure who thought they would be a good idea in the first place and it was never a particular desire of mine to live in one. I’m here now though, and if everyone in this building was like my dad and I, unconcerned with our neighbours and what they do in the quasi-privacy of their own yards, it wouldn’t be such a bad place to live. It seems, however, that those who are most attracted to the idea of condos are those same people who find the thought of being able to police their neighbours so very appealing in the first place. My friend tells me this sentiment is not limited to condo-dwellers, that her own neighbourhood is in fact populated with busy-bodies, the difference being that here those types have, for some reason I cannot fathom, been given a lot more clout.

All I was wanted to do was to take my waste, my kitchen scraps, my potato peelings and coffee grounds and lettuce stems, and turn them into something nutritious, something that can supplement the meagre layer of dry earth and gravel that lurks beneath the grass here. I understand there is a concern about compost attracting animals, but that is only the case if one puts meat and dairy scraps in the bin, which I had no intention of doing. If the concerned party would have come to my door, I might have had the opportunity to assure them of this. I could tell my neighbour that all I’m doing is bringing some diversity and nutrition to this neglected little corner. Instead, community and conversation has been rejected in favour of authorities and rule books.

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