This week, Lisa has California on her mind.
Photography by Damon Winter for New York Times
“You’ve had a landscaper and a house keeper since you were born
The starshine always kept you warm
So why see the world, when you got the beach
Don’t know why see the world, when you got the beach
The sweet life”
The hook of Frank Ocean’s song Sweet life
On my mind is California.
Still, the land of my dreams.
But the land suffers; the drought is severe, devastating. The limits of nature tells us California can’t keep being the seventh economy of the world on current terms. On its fourth year, the drought tells the state’s 38 million inhabitants (owning 32 million vehicles) that they indeed have to change their way of living. Even Governor Brown is forced to listen, and he recently ordered a 25 percent cut in water consumption.
The 25 percent cut doesn’t apply to farms, which consumes some 80 percent of the state’s water, and the issue of agricultural water spend needs to be more urgently addressed. But the Californian definition of beauty; a lush lawn and a golf course; is still a very real problem. The domestication of natural resources is as tricky as retouching the diversity of human beauty.
“Domesticated paradise, palm trees and pools…”
The Sweet life sounds like a Sweet lie.
I’m about the last one to say this, but there’s something about this paradox that defines California. Natural beauty versus external threat. Sunsets and foggy skies, cars and surfboards, extreme wealth and homelessness. A dream isn’t always a good one.
California has faced many a crisis; temporary droughts, crashing state budgets, massive energy issues, earthquakes; but has always, so far, found its way forward. It seems even this time around, most experts are saying ”no, it’s not the end of the California dream – but we have to adjust, we have to learn how to do things differently”.
And I choose to be hopeful. As Dr Starr tells NY Times: ”It’s not over… But it will change itself.”
Reinventing oneself; reinventing a state. It sounds like a shimmering cliche, but if any state can do it, it’s California. It will change.
Please take a look at Damon Winter’s photos of a dry California here, and while you’re there, read the feature as well. And have a good weekend.
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