Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

I live in a medium-sized, midwestern college town. Without the presence of South Dakota State University, Brookings would be something of a cultural desert. Aside from providing the obvious entertainments through the production of plays and concerts, SDSU also brings in speakers from the worlds of politics and publishing. Authors, journalists, artists, and those who dwell inside the beltway arrive as guest lecturers and routinely fill the house. The South Dakota Art Museum is ensconced on the western edge of campus. But my favorite haunt is McCrory Gardens, SDSU's botanical gardens and arboretum. Wide expanses of barefoot quality grass studded with themed areas and gorgeous mass plantings of perennial and annual flowers. It is beyond beautiful. Peaceful. Rejuvenating to the mind and soul. Oh, and it's free. Has been since its inception. Rumors had been making the rounds recently that this was soon to change. In the last few weeks a very attractive six foot high, black iron fence has sprung up around McCrory's sixty-plus acres, ensuring that all who visit must enter and exit through the visitor's center. Personally, I am of the thought that the gardens should remain open to the public and free of charge. I am also of the thought that the thousands of dollars invested in the fancy fence could have gone a long way toward maintenance costs. Today I signed an online petition meant to help keep the gardens free for any and all who visit. If you have toured McCrory Gardens, or hope to when you visit Brookings in the future, maybe you should consider signing the petition as well. Robert Frost made a good case for fence building in Mending Wall, but to isolate McCrory Gardens from this community only serves to divide with offense. Pun intended.

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