how to water a plant, and the design of human groups

From Jan Gehl's Life Between Buildings:

"When outdoor areas are of poor quality, only strictly necessary activities occur.

When outdoor areas are of high quality, necessary activities take place with approximately the same frequency -- though they clearly tend to take a longer time, because the physical conditions are better. In addition, however, a wide range of optional activities will also occur because place and situation now invite people to stop, sit, eat, play, and so on.

In streets and city spaces of poor quality, only the bare minimum of activity takes place. People hurry home.

In a good environment, a completely different, broad spectrum of human activities is possible."

Question: how do you water a plant?

WikiHow tells me that it's a four-step process. 

One: pot the plant correctly. Too small, and its roots will get entangled. 
Two: obey the plant's schedule, not yours. Just because every Wednesday works for you doesn't mean that's what's best for the plant.
Three: stick your finger in the soil. Too dry or too wet means the roots might be rotting and depriving the leaves of water. 
Four: water the damn plant. 

Question: why do you water a plant?

Because if you don't, it will die.

Question: why do you keep a plant, anyways?

Scientifically, because it performs respiration, the source of energy for all living things on Earth.
Sentimentally, because it feels good to take care of something.
Aesthetically, because it looks nice around the house.
Culturally, because it makes for good conversation when you're sitting around.

Question: so ... why do you water a plant?

So that it grows and is able to perform all of the above functions.

Question: how do you water a plant?

You don't tape up the leaves and stem when they start wilting.
You don't paint the foliage green.
You don't replace the soil with just water.
You don't give it a month's worth of water once a month.
You just water the damn plant so that it can grow on its own.

Plant Metaphors
  • The organization as a plant

  • The city as a plant

  • The child as a plant

  • Technology as a plant

  • The world as a fractal series of plants watering plants watering plants, and so on.