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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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A Proposal To Transform London’s BT Tower Into A Pollution Harvester

A Proposal To Transform London’s BT Tower Into A Pollution Harvester | green streets | Scoop.it

Royal College of Art graduate Chang-Yeob Lee’s ‘Synth[e]tech[e]cology’ project aims to repurpose the BT Tower into pollution harvesting skyscraper that extracts carbon from petrol fumes to produce sustainable bio-fuels. 

Lee chose to base his design around the 620-ft telecommunications tower because of its predicted redundancy and its location in one of the most polluted areas in London. The redesigned tower would serve as a way to gather economically valuable resources from pollutants in the atmosphere while reducing the level of respiratory illness in the city. 

“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting”, said Lee. “We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value. Pollution could be another economy.”
The tower will also include “a vertical oil field laboratory and a laboratory for future resources present in the atmosphere”.

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The 10 most polluted cities in the U.S.

The 10 most polluted cities in the U.S. | green streets | Scoop.it

Despite improvements in air quality, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.


There is no doubt that great strides have been made in air pollution in the U.S. Awareness, stricter legislation and improved technology have all contributed to improved air, land and water conditions. Despite the improvements, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.

Since the American Lung Association began studying particle pollution, almost all of the most polluted cities have consistently remained among the worst. The ALA’s 2013 “State of the Air” report measures cities based on low-lying ozone pollution, as well as both short- and long-term particle pollution. Based on average long-term particle pollution figures collected between 2009 and 2011, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 most polluted cities in the country...

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Urban Farming is Growing in Shanghai, China

Urban Farming is Growing in Shanghai, China | green streets | Scoop.it

After years of relentless growth, Shanghai, China is entering a new phase of environmentally sustainable development, where issues like urban farming are becoming more prominent. 


Increasing urban density, competition for land and a rising demand for food from the burgeoning middle class, Shanghai needs to ensure that the opportunity to produce food in the city is possible.

The main challenge facing urban farming in Shanghai remains to be a lack of awareness. Without the proper education and know-how, the urban farming movement is unlikely to take shape on a large scale, and with very little outdoor space available, few options are available to grow food. Many residents have turned to creative land-intensive solutions such as balcony or rooftop farming to produce fresh, organic, healthy and cheap foods...


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Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment

Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment | green streets | Scoop.it

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for approximately 40 percent of worldwide energy use and are responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They also play an important role in the health and wellbeing of those who inhabit them each day.

The mass of information about what makes a building green tends to concentrate on new and innovative designs that create beautiful photo spreads. While such examples are inspiring, they make up a very small percentage of all buildings in operation.

Green Buildings Alive is an environmental initiative aimed at collecting and sharing data on existing buildings between 10 and 60 years old. The data is collected from office towers in Australian Central Business Districts (CBDs) and shared on a public website.


For more on this innovative, environmental initiative that provides interactive visualizations of building-performance data to help understand the complexities and relationships among sustainability, health, and energy, read the complete article

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Achieving sustainable, inclusive cities requires better planning - UN News Centre

Achieving sustainable, inclusive cities requires better planning - UN News Centre | green streets | Scoop.it

Top United Nations officials have underscored the need to better plan the world’s urban areas, where half of the global population currently resides, to turn the ideal of sustainable and inclusive cities into reality.

“In little more than a generation, two thirds of the global population will be urban. As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grows, so too does the need to strengthen the urban focus of our efforts to reduce global poverty and promote sustainable development,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In his message for World Habitat Day, Mr. Ban noted that better planned and better functioning cities can help ensure that everyone who lives there has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services. He also noted they promote education and job prospects, energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems, and a feeling of inclusiveness for inhabitants.

According to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the main challenges confronting cities and towns all over the world today include unemployment, especially among youth; social and economic inequalities; and unsustainable energy consumption patterns.

Urban areas are also responsible for most of the world’s waste and pollution.


“We should create a new type of city – the city of the 21st century – a smart, people-centred city, one that is capable of integrating the tangible and more intangible aspects of prosperity; a city able to rid itself of the inefficient, unsustainable urban habits of the previous century,” said Joan Clos, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director.

“It is time for changing our cities and for building new opportunities,” he stated...


Read further to learn more about the social, economic and cultural components of sustainable cities and urban growth, and the latest in the global dialogue on green development and conscientious planning and how they contribute to a healthier economy, engaged communities, and increased social equity.

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Urban beekeeping keeps cities healthy | SmartPlanet

Urban beekeeping keeps cities healthy | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
Researcher Noah Wilson-Rich draws attention to the striking correlations between the survival of honey bees and the future health of cities.

“We need bees for the future of our cities and urban living,” Noah Wilson-Rich said at TEDxBoston. He completed his Ph.D. in honeybee health in 2005. In 2006, honeybees started disappearing. and researchers still do not know what’s causing it.

We’ve been hearing about the disappearance of bees for some time, but Wilson-Rich is bringing a new perspective to the table.

Cities need bees, and bees need cities.

“We’re very co-evolved because we depend on bees for pollination and even more recently, as an economic commodity.” Wilson-Rich went on to note that in cities “bees are surviving better than in the country. They also produce more honey.”

There are a number of possible reasons. Cities are warmer, trains carry pollen into heavily populated areas, and there may be fewer pesticides in urban areas. In other words, Colony Collapse Disorder is not the only thing affecting bees.

But even though the physical urban environment supports healthy bees, the social urban environment certainly does not. There is a reason urban beekeepers take care to keep their beehives out of sight.

Wilson-Rich wants to change that...

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How Urban Parks Enhance Your Brain

How Urban Parks Enhance Your Brain | green streets | Scoop.it
A break from the bustle of the city can do your mind good, recent research shows.

A couple weeks ago the folks at Cracked told readers that "living in a city makes you dumber." There are a number of flaws here — beyond the obvious one of getting your science news from Cracked — but the research at the center of the claim has some relevance to cities worth considering nonetheless. What it tells us is not so much a story about the hazards of city living as it is about the benefits of city parks.

The original study at issue here, which I'm familiar with from earlier work, was published back in 2008 in Psychological Science [PDF]. A research team led by Marc Berman of the University of Michigan gave participants a standard memory and attention test then assigned some of them to walk through downtown Ann Arbor, and others to walk through the impressive campus arboretum. The participants were tested again upon their return, and beyond a doubt the group that took the nature walk scored significantly better...

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Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above

Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above | green streets | Scoop.it
Turning the black tar roofs that cover our cities into green spaces is not cheap or easy, but its benefits to the environment would be great.

It’s spring — time to plant your roof. Roofs, like coffee, used to be black tar. Now both have gone gourmet: for roofs, the choices are white, green, blue and solar-panel black.

All are green in one sense. In different ways, each helps to solve serious environmental problems. One issue is air pollution, which needs no introduction.The second is the urban heat island. Because cities have lots of dark surfaces that absorb heat and relatively little green cover, they tend to be hotter than surrounding areas — the average summer temperature in New York City is more than 7 degrees hotter than in the Westchester suburbs. 

The other problem is storm water runoff. In New York, as in about a fifth of American cities, there is only one sewer system to conduct both rainwater and wastewater. About every other rainfall in New York, sewers flood and back up, discharging their mix of rainwater and wastewater into the city’s waterways, which could be alleviated by the addition of vegetated roof systems to absorb rainwater...

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A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm | green streets | Scoop.it
A literal food truck expands the creative arsenal of urban agriculture.

If the Lorax were to ever actually award a "Certified Truffula Tree of Approval" to a moving vehicle, it'd be a lot more likely to go to a garden-toting truck that brings farms to schools than to a Mazda SUV.

A literal "food truck," Truck Farm Chicago is a nonprofit organization that uses a 1994 Ford F-250 named Petunia to chauffeur a miniature farm. The project, which revved into gear on Earth Day, is a collaboration between sustainable development nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead and eco-friendly book-printer Green Sugar Press, a recent GOOD Maker finalist whose co-founders Shari Brown and Tim Magner were inspired by King Corn director Ian Cheney’s first truck farm in Brooklyn, NY...

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Re-purposing Sydney’s monorail

Re-purposing Sydney’s monorail | green streets | Scoop.it

Recently, the NSW government announced that Sydney’s monorail infrastructure will be demolished only 24 years after it went into service. David Vago, Principal of habitation believes that this is a missed opportunity to retrofit the Monorail structure for a pedestrian focused open space similar to the High-Line in New York.

habitation proposes to retrofit the existing Sydney Monorail structure into a continuous above-ground path through the city. Vago sees the proposal as embracing “the principles set out by the City of Sydney and embrace the agenda and ideas championed in 2030 Sustainable Sydney;”. The 3.6km loop proposal called the High-Lane would become an uninterrupted route though the city. Vago believes that the path “will appeal to recreational runners, walkers, joggers, office-workers, parents with prams and tourists who yearn to see the city from a new perspective.”

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The High Cost of Losing Urban Trees

The High Cost of Losing Urban Trees | green streets | Scoop.it
Tennessee reaps a $638 million yearly benefit from its urban trees – and an $80 billion loss if they disappeared.

Through energy savings, air and water filtering and carbon storage, the urban trees of Tennessee account for more than $638 million in benefits, according to a report [PDF] conducted by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and released earlier this year.

The biggest savings are attributed to carbon storage, which the authors of the report value at an estimated $350 million. Collectively, the state's urban trees store about 16.9 million tons, with each ton stored worth about $20.70 to the state every year. Air and water filtration is also one of the functional benefits of urban trees, and the report estimates the value of this work at $204 million per year. The trees are credited with removing 27,100 tons of pollutants each year, including ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. And because of the shading they provide, these urban trees are credited with saving about $66 million in energy costs annually.

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Shaun Scallan's curator insight, January 27, 2014 11:45 PM

The urban forest is part of the forest big picture.

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Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet

Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
According to a new report on the public benefits of commuter biking, the practice can generate massive savings in health care.

The U.S. spends around $2 trillion a year on health care, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to cut back on those costs, while simultaneously improving public health and lowering carbon emissions?

Copenhagen recently published its 2012 Bicycle Account, which enumerates the considerable public benefits of commuter biking. One-third of the city’s population bikes to work, and this has benefited everything from transportation costs to security, tourism, traffic infrastructure, and public health...

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Study of the Day: Towns With Small Businesses Have Healthier People

Study of the Day: Towns With Small Businesses Have Healthier People | green streets | Scoop.it
The rewards of a vibrant small business sector go beyond economics: Research shows places that rely on large retailers have more problems.

 

Sociologists are divided on how small businesses affect public health. Some say that mom-and-pop operations symbolize a greater investment in the community so proprietors may value the well-being of their employees, customers, and other local citizens more. Others, however, argue that large companies may be better at providing pension plans and health insurance...

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Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites

Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites | green streets | Scoop.it

Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago took home the Bruner Foundation’s Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) gold medal, which comes with $50,000 in support for the project. Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000.


The biennial award celebrates “urban places distinguished by quality design and contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities.” Since 1987, the Bruner Foundation has awarded 67 projects $1.2 million in support.

Inspiration Kitchens is an “entrepreneurial, nonprofit initiative” on Chicago’s west side. In an economically-challenged part of the city, this LEED Gold certified facility, with a 80-seat restaurant, serves free and affordable healthy meals.
The restaurant prides itself on being “earth-friendly, including our use of local ingredients, solar-heated water and sun-sensitive kitchen lighting.”

Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000: read the complete article for more details.

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The Urban Farming Technique That Will Revolutionize the Way We Eat

The Urban Farming Technique That Will Revolutionize the Way We Eat | green streets | Scoop.it

Aquaponics uses fish to create soil-less farms that can fit into cities much easier.


Urban farming today is no longer a hobby practiced by a few dedicated enthusiasts growing food for themselves. It has become a truly innovative field in which pioneering ventures are creating real, robust, and scalable solutions for growing food for large numbers of people directly at the point of consumption. This is great news not only for urban designers, architects, and building engineers, but also for residents and communities that want to increase food security and become more resilient to climate change.

Visit the article link for more information and details on the practice of aquaponics, natural resource efficiency and the potential for large-scale urban cultivation...

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Anji Connell's curator insight, April 10, 2013 10:53 PM

'Rooftops present a great opportunity for farming; they are large, unexploited spaces within the city. Most commercial rooftops are also perfectly fit for the technical challenges, in terms of building physics, zoning laws, and system integration with the host building. A standard commercial rooftop in a Western city is about four times the size of our test farm, which means it could produce up to 20 tons of vegetables and four tons of fish — an annual harvest to feed 400. A significant part, if not the entire annual consumption, of fresh fish and vegetables for a building’s tenants could be served through its roof.'

Megan Moore's curator insight, June 1, 2014 2:22 AM

What a great article, this is something that everyone should read. Make sure you read it all before showing your class, so you can answer any questions they have.

Its weird to think the world will be in another ten years time...What will they think of next?

AWESOME!!!

Linked to the Australian Curriculum, Technologies:

-Apply safe procedures when using a variety of materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques to make designed solutions (ACTDEP026)

Megan

John Taylor's curator insight, October 27, 2014 5:27 PM

Fish and Fish guts adds organic material-great fertiliser!

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Urban Design for Bicycles: a Plausible Sustainable Solution

Urban Design for Bicycles: a Plausible Sustainable Solution | green streets | Scoop.it

Using bicycle-friendly cities like Copenhagen as inspiration, a growing number of cities around the world are changing their urban design to become biking cities.


Each year, Copenhagen eliminates 90,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere from the sheer number of cyclists versus cars.

Designing cities with bicycles in mind reduces emissions, commute times, urban sprawl and illness. More cities are looking to bike-friendly sustainable development as they aspire to become green.

Urban planners and architects are increasingly faced with the challenge of compacting development and designing a sustainable transport pattern...

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ParadigmGallery's curator insight, February 15, 2013 11:46 AM

The photo is Amsterdam...the story is the same....

Etienne Randier's curator insight, November 26, 2013 4:21 AM

A la fin des années 60, Georges Pompidou déclarait que Paris devait s'adapter à l'automobile, revenus de cette hérésie, les urbanistes planchent désormais sur la création d'un cadre de vie conçu pour le bien-être des humains et non celui des machines.

 

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The Impact of Urban Farming in New York

The Impact of Urban Farming in New York | green streets | Scoop.it

Urban farming is a sustainability movement that is giving new purpose to rooftops, patios and unused space. The beauty of urban farming is that it not only produces an abundance of organic, locally grown food, but also has a social, economic and communal impact.


Urban farming has the potential to become a global green evolution, improving the economy, sustainability and health of our urban communities. From North Minneapolis and Milwaukee to Cairo and Montreal, urban farms and gardens are sprouting up as a solution to maximize the use of natural resources such as solar energy, advocating healthy lifestyles and even teaching job skills. 

From rooftop-grown organic herbs to brownstone backyard tomato plants, urban farming is creating green utopias in otherwise unused or abandoned metropolitan spaces.


Read further for more information on urban farming as an agricultural revolution, aiding the change of global urban landscapes.

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Katie Elizabeth's curator insight, August 8, 2013 1:20 PM

Cultural landscapes in our cities are changing.  What's your opinion?

Tanja Den Broeder's curator insight, January 21, 2015 7:54 PM

Always keep on looking at the greening Big Apple...

Kayla, Sean, and Max's curator insight, February 26, 2015 1:25 PM

Max

Rooftop spaces in New York are starting to become used for urban farming and are resulting in many benefits. They maximize the use of space in the city, and help support healthy lifestyles within the city. They also provide another source of income for some of the many people that live in it, boosting the economy.

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Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities

Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities | green streets | Scoop.it

Amidst the automobile infested concrete space of most modern cities are spaces which allow for community to really happen- parks. With access to open space, parks not only provide an outlet from our fast-paced society; they serve our neighborhoods through design, providing a natural habitat, serene experiences, and opportunities for community engagement.

There are many benefits from investing in green space; much of which can only happen through creating and maintaining parks in cities. Parks generate economic, physical and social benefits, creating stronger community ties and transforming cities by awakening vital senses of city dwellers. Many cities, in efforts to revitalize themselves, incorporate a park as part of that revitalization. 

Parks are often located on historic sites where the land is protected by the city. A well-designed park can show that recreating historic space doesn’t have to mean ‘destroy and rebuild’, instead revitalizing an asset that was already there in some form...

City dwellers make up an urban community. In the open green space of a park, where no one owns anything and the space is collectively ours, a genuine sense of community, shared space, and shared life can be developed. A well-designed urban park has the potential to transform individuals, making them more conscious of community, encouraging them to practice sustenance of that community with a sense of pride.

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Can Crowdfunded Citizen Science Improve Urban Air Quality?

Can Crowdfunded Citizen Science Improve Urban Air Quality? | green streets | Scoop.it
Can citizen science clean up the air? Maybe, if it’s using Air Quality Egg: a small internet-enabled sensor designed to help crowdsource pollution maps.

Final designs for the Egg are still being tested, but it has already raised $120,000 on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and the first production run is planned for the late summer. It’s envisaged that an individual Egg will sell for around $100, with DIY kits from $40.

The hardware is described as ‘open source’, and uses off-the-shelf components to keep costs down and encourage owners to customise and improve upon it. Initial designs suggest it will be, as its name implies, a smooth egg shape, able to sit in the hand or be placed on a shelf or desk.

When complete, a series of passive sensors inside the Egg will analyse air as it passes through the device. These will use a variety of electromagnetic, chemical and optical techniques to detect concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, temperature and humidity, with optional extra sensors for ozone, particulates and radiation. Results are uploaded directly to data clearing house Cosm (formerly known as Pachube), where they can be viewed as an individual reading or as part of an area map...

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How “Small Change” Leads to Big Change: Social Capital and Healthy Places

How “Small Change” Leads to Big Change: Social Capital and Healthy Places | green streets | Scoop.it

According to Dr. Richard Jackson, a pioneering public health advocate and former CDC official now serving as the Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA, the idea that buildings, streets, and public spaces play a key role in the serious public health issues that we face in the US “has undergone a profound sea change in the past few years. It’s gone from sort of a marginal, nutty thing to becoming something that’s common sense for a lot of people.”

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Children in Cities: Forging a Sustainable Urban Future

Children in Cities: Forging a Sustainable Urban Future | green streets | Scoop.it

Over half the world’s people – including more than one billion children – make their homes in the world’s cities, where the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental inequality is manifest.

The Rio+20 Conference will consider, among other things, what it takes to ensure that cities grow in a sustainable way. The transformations it envisions present an opportunity to extend the benefits of development to those currently excluded, by making sure that social support is a feature of the green economy...

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The New Era of Urban Agriculture | Sustainable Cities Collective

The New Era of Urban Agriculture | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets | Scoop.it

A flux of design proposals has emerged over the last few years that respond to the increasing interest in food security and sustainability.

While cities have historically provided productive spaces for growing food out of necessity, the proposals in Carrot City represent an effort to think more coherently and strategically about food production. They show how urban agriculture can become infrastructure for re-integrating food production into the urban fabric in meaningful ways, eventually becoming, as the authors argue, as imperative to a city’s functioning as public sanitation systems...

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What Cities Can Learn From Toronto's Green Roof Policy

What Cities Can Learn From Toronto's Green Roof Policy | green streets | Scoop.it
Already, 1.2 million square feet of green space have been added to the city.

In January of 2010, Toronto became the first city in North America to require the installation of green roofs on new commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential developments across the city. Next week, the requirement will expand to apply to new industrial development as well.

Toronto’s requirements are embodied in a municipal bylaw that includes standards for when a green roof is required and what elements are required in the design. Generally speaking, smaller residential and commercial buildings (such as apartment buildings less than six stories tall) are exempt; from there, the larger the building, the larger the vegetated portion of the roof must be. For the largest buildings, 60 percent of available space on the roof must be vegetated.

The industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities announced last fall in a press release that Toronto’s green roof requirements had already resulted in more than 1.2 million square feet of new green space planned on commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential developments. According to the association, the benefits will include more than 125 full-time jobs related to the manufacture, design, installation and maintenance of the roofs; reduction of more than 435,000 cubic feet of stormwater each year; and annual energy savings of over 1.5 million KWH for building owners. The longer the program is in effect, the more the benefits will increase...

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New Orleans school cultivates a generation of forward-thinking farmers

New Orleans school cultivates a generation of forward-thinking farmers | green streets | Scoop.it
Nat Turner and the hardworking young crew behind Our School at Blair Grocery are bringing healthy soil and fresh food to the Lower Ninth Ward.

 

Nat Turner, a former New York City public-school teacher, moved to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward on Thanksgiving Day, 2008. He didn’t know anything about gardening — “I could barely keep a cactus alive” — but he had a vision to start an urban farm that would be a vehicle for educating and empowering the neighborhood’s youth. He’d been making service trips to the Big Easy with students, but he wanted an opportunity to dig deeper, literally and figuratively, into the city’s revitalization.

His first goal, Turner says, “is to figure out how to make the Lower Ninth food secure.” It seems fitting, then, that in a neighborhood with no supermarket, Turner set up shop in a falling-down building that had once housed a black-owned family business called the B&G Grocery.

He filled a pink bathtub in the backyard with soil and planted scallions, which floated away when the bathtub flooded in a rainstorm. That was the beginning of Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG)...

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Los Angeles Seeks Pedestrians

Los Angeles Seeks Pedestrians | green streets | Scoop.it
A pilot project aims to pave the way for community-led reuses of L.A. streets.

The automobile is undoubtedly the dominant mode of travel in Los Angeles. But to write off the city as made up entirely of car-driving, bumper-to-bumper rush hour commuters is clearly an over-generalization. A growing group of Angelenos is finding ways to make transit, cycling, and walking (and, often, a combination thereof) relevant and viable in their daily lives.

A physical example of this transition opened this weekend in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood. On a short strip of street bordering a small triangular park within a vibrant commercial area, officials from the city’s departments of planning, transportation, and public works partnered with the county’s public health department to close the street off to car traffic and convert it into an outdoor plaza. On 11,000 square-feet, the roadway has been effectively removed form the automobile grid with the simple application of paint (in glowing neon green polka-dots), bike racks and planters around the edges and seating in the middle. The project was inspired by similar street plazas created in New York City and San Francisco.

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