The Low Down On Green Living
September 11th, 2009
Pavement is one of the defining characteristics of our urban existence. From pop-culture terms like “asphalt jungle” to the Joni Mitchell song and its famous lyrics about paving paradise for parking lots, pavement is often used as a symbol of both the progress and peril of our urbanizing ways. Unfortunately, all of this pavement is more than a downer in our collective psyche. By catching car-based pollutants and funneling rainfall straight into storm drains and gutters, pavement destroys rivers and streams and kills the animals and plants that depend on them. Oh, and it also produces the dirty water that makes millions of people sick each year after they swim in polluted water.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to lay pavement down than it is to take it out. The physical process is difficult, it’s hard to dispose of, and most of our zoning regulations and building codes make it difficult to remove once it’s in place. Decommissioning a parking lot or underused street for environmental reasons isn’t for the faint of heart, but fortunately there are some ambitious folks out there willing to confront the challenge head-on. Read on to see how they’re creating some beautiful and useful public spaces.
The folks at City Repair, a nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, have been at it for over a year now under their Depave project. They’re on track to depave six different sites this summer, turning parking lots into gardens and parks across the city. They employ an army of volunteers to remove pavement by brute force, chunk by chunk and pick by pick. Here are some before, during and after photos from their recent project at the Kailash EcoVillage apartment complex.
The team at North East Trees in Los Angeles has also done some de-paving of their own. Several years ago they finished the Bimini Slough Ecology Park, funded and operated by the Bresee Foundation. They closed and decommissioned a street (with major support from the neighborhood, City of LA, and Bresee Foundation) and designed and built a minipark, turning an area known for traffic, trash and blight into a quiet respite that treats its own stormwater.
And lest you think this is a West Coast phenomenon, the nonprofit group Aspira in New York City turned an old basketball court in Brook Park in the Bronx into a garden full of vegetables.
So, be on the lookout for a paved area near you that needs to be turned from an eyesore into a community asset. Need inspiration or advice? Contact one of the groups mentioned above. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, restore the environment, and work out some major aggression at the same time!
+ via Inhabitat
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