09 June 2010

Clothesline controversy? Huh?

There was an article on Shelterpop last week about the controversy surrounding clotheslines in suburbia. Huh?

In what universe can this be an eyesore,

Heidi Zech Photography

but this isn't?


I fear for this country, I really do. The Shelterpop article mentioned a piece from the New York Times that dug into the matter in more detail. Apparently, 60 million people in the US live in 300,000 private communities. In most of them, hanging out laundry is forbidden. I cannot imagine ever living in one of those places, but plenty of people do. No clotheslines is but one of what are no doubt hundreds of Gladys Kravitz-isms written into the the community agreements that bind these places together.

I grew up wearing clothes that were line dried. I hang my stuff out now because I like how sun-dried laundry smells. More than how it smells, I like how it feels. There's something about stiff jeans and undies that makes me think my clothes are really clean.

When I was a kid, there was a madwoman who lived next door. She lived to terrorize us kids but she liked my mother. She liked my mother a great deal. Her reason for this unexpected affection? My mother "hung out a nice wash."

I wonder if suburbanites would get along better if they were allowed to have clotheslines. Of course, what drives all of this is that graven image, resale value. Around six percent of all residential electricity use goes to power clothes dryers. If even some small portion of that were conserved by hanging out some laundry some times, the savings could be significant.

Besides, isn't nice to be a human being from time to time?  Even in a gated community?

Well have no fear because there's a fledgling "right to dry" movement in the US. How American is this by the way? One side bans clotheslines and the opposition declares a right to a clothesline. Anyhow, this right to dry movement has spawned a documentary film called Drying for Freedom. Here's the trailer:




Well that seems a bit extreme, but no more extreme than the absurd idea that it's against the rules to have a clothesline. What do you guys think? Would your rather die than line dry? Would you man the barricades to defend your right to hang your clothes in the sun? What do you think of this clothesline controversy?

32 comments:

  1. Stiff jeans, shorts, sheets, even towels... but undies?

    Love it, Paul, and totally agree with you. As a Southern boy, you could ride through our small town and see what everyone wore. We ran around in our underwear and all the clothes were on the line!

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  2. an ironic comparison....air-dry laundry vs. SUV....I like it.

    although we have a super big SUV with our family...we still dry our clothes on the line as long as we are able here in PA. :)

    oh...and I have another idea...rather than feed the hungry around the world for a few dollars each day – let’s make all of our corn into ethanol for our flex-fuel SUVs...

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  3. My Mom line dried our clothes when I was young. I liked the way towels felt when they were dry. Get this. In North Carolina the vehicles the state highway patrol drives (at least in the area where my parents live) are BIG SUVS!!!!! What?!?!?!!??! My husband and I couldn't believe it when we last saw that.

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  4. Sadly I can't line dry outside much because of my allergies, but there are always drying racks inside. I do at least 1-2 loads each day and hanging it takes a good bit of time- so mostly I use the dryer. I can't even imagine why people take offense at the sight of clean laundry hung on a line. As opposed to a bunch of plastic little tykes toys strewn across the lawn? Or an open garage packed to the top with unused stuff?

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  5. The tide is turning on a lot of these sorts covenants, at least legally. For example, in Wisconsin, any convenant restricting solar power cannot be enforced (the only wayt to stop solar is if the installation itself is unsafe). Not only that, once the solar is up, the owner has a right to not have someone else block their sunlight. I see the clothesline covenants going the same way.

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  6. Extreme Drying for Freedom may be, but apparently extreme measures are needed in the face of such extreme stupidity. This kind of thing makes me nuts. You couldn't pay me enough to live in a gated community.

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  7. Wonder what these anti-clothesline communities would have made of the wonderful laundry hanging scene in Cocteau's 'La Belle et la Bete', or the laundry evocatively scattered all over the garden in 'The Draughtsman's Contract'!

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  8. Some of my favorite childhood memories are helping my grandmother hang all the clothes on the window-to-pole clothesline. I used to love handing her the clothes pins and then reeling the line out.

    We've come a long way baby????

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  9. So an entire generation doesn't know about crisp, clean sheets off the line? Another simple pleasure stabbed through the heart by technology. So sad: Clean Sheet Night should be the happiest night of the week.

    Liza

    PS - this is one reason why I bought linen bedsheets and linen/cotton towels - for their crispness. Well, that and the fact that I am a hopeless princess.

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  10. I'll always line-dry when I can... I'll admit it was kind of a drag to *have to* when we (my ex and I) didn't have a dryer and I had to hang out baby clothes and crib sheets and diaper covers in a cold winter wind. But now when the weather is even barely tolerable I'll hang stuff out; it saves a LOT of money and, like you, I love the crispness and the inimitable scent of line-dried goods. Banning this is... inhuman. And your comparison to giant SUVs: priceless.

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  11. I have the allergy problem, too, but I also have two racks in the house that I use to dry clothing. It not only saves energy, it keeps the clothing looking newer for longer.

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  12. Anyone against line drying should revisit all the news stories about the BP oil spill. Come one folks, let's lighten our energy dependence!

    Love line-dried sheets... love my hybrid too. So fun to drive.

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  13. I can't believe there are people out there who think clotheslines are unsightly but monster garages stuck on the front of houses, neon-bright plastic kids toys, RVs, SUVs, etc. aren't.

    I grew up on a small farm near Vancouver, Canada, and one of my chores was hanging the laundry on the clothesline and bringing it in later. Ah, the scent of fresh laundry. I loved it when the laundry stayed out overnight and the frost stiffened it. I thought it was hilarious when Dad's longjohns stood up on their own!

    Life was so much more enjoyable then. There were no playdates, cellphones, iPhones, soccer moms, monster trucks, etc. And the laundry smelled divine!

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  14. Thanks for chiming in everybody. I haven't been able to respond 'til now but I'm heartened to know that I'm not the only one who's appalled by this sort of thing.

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  15. SUV's v Clotheslines? Really? As a "soccer mom" of 4 kids, what exactly should I drive my family of 6 around in? I would love something besides a large SUV that's cheaper on gas, but haven't seemed to find anything yet.

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  16. Lori: That's not some generic SUV, it's an Escalade. There's an enormous difference. Nobody drives an Escalade out of necessity, they do it to get on my nerves.

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  17. I feel like maybe I'm missing something here. I, too, have a luxury SUV because I like it. I also like the luxury $60,000+ kitchens I read about here. What's wrong with that? I'm certainly not trying to "get on anyone's nerves" with my expensive SUV, just like you're not trying to "get on anyone's nerves" with luxury kitchens, right? I don't judge or make assumptions about someone based on what they spent on something. I think the kitchens are great!

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  18. Well clearly what you're missing is my sense of humor. I picked an Escalade because I think they are ugly and overbearing. I'm mystified that there are people in the world who think that Somehow Escalades are acceptable and clotheslines are not. So much so that they write such regulations into HOA rules and deed restrictions. I'm even more mystified that anyone would go along with that sort of thing and buy into such a neighborhood.

    I am not attacking you for driving an SUV. Do you see that? You seem to want to make this personal and really, it's not. You can spend your money any way you see fit. Even on an Escalade, I really don't care. However, if it is an Escalade I will say that it's an ugly and obnoxious car. That's my opinion. So what? It doesn't make it true or any kind of a personal attack.

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  19. Gotcha. :) For the record, I don't drive an Escalade, my Infiniti is much more tasteful. I don't live in a neighborhood that restricts clotheslines, it encourages horses and breathing room. I was simply making a point that I don't judge others by what they drive and certainly don't think they are doing it to get on anyone's nerves. :)

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  20. You get a pass for driving an Infiniti Lori. Actually, why else would someone drive an Escalade, an SUV that shouts "I'm a redneck who won the lottery!" other than to get on peoples' nerves?

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  21. Keep coming around and never take me too seriously. Thanks for the back and forth!

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  22. I bet these are the same places that slap you with a fine if your grass is over s certain height. "eyesore" is not a good reason. Can we ban bad outfits in public in neighborhoods cause that is a bigger "eyesore". I wonder how they define this "eyesore"

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  23. Gah. In my part of Florida, we live with permanent water restrictions. In 2008, a man in Bayonnet Point was arrested and sent to jail by his Neighborhood Association for his brown lawn.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/article847365.ece

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  24. i also have no idea about this controversy...?

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  25. Personally what I think it all boils down to is, THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD, Paul! :)

    In a NUTshell; on both sides we have 'extremists' who basically have their own agendas.

    Do I hang my laundry out or use a clothes dryer? Actually I do both! Its called FREEDOM OF CHOICE. -Brenda-

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  26. Brenda: I usually send my laundry out to a service, so where does that leave me?

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  27. "You are a man after my own heart" as you are just like Switzerland......neutral. :)

    I don't know about you Paul, but I am just so damn sick and tired of people dictating and/or ramming their ideologies down my throat.

    -Brenda-

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  28. I've always found the HOA concept mystifying, especially the idea that they regulate what you do in your *back yard* (who is the pervert looking over the fence?).
    To the person who doesn't want to display their undies: if you have a rotary clothes hoist, as most Aussies do, you hang the undies on the inner lines, large items on the outside lines. If you had a single long string, you couldn't do that -- but wouldn't the neighbours be unnerved more if they didn't *ever* see your underpants on the line? Assuming they ever gave the matter a thought, of course.

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  29. I line dry once in a while, and I wish I did it more often. It makes me CRAZY that communities ban line drying. It's that kind of crappy attitude that encourages all of us to waste resources.

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  30. You said it Maria, it's as bad as the covenants that require green St. Augustine lawns. I will never understand the impulse to move to such places. Never.

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