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. (more…)
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