Where Are All the Green Spaces?
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Are there areas in your neighborhood that could or should be transformed into green spaces? Or, are there existing green spaces that should be preserved? Take a picture of one of these spaces or simply take a picture of plant life growing in an unexpected area.
Today is Earth Day and the global theme of this year’s activities is “Green Cities”. Right now more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and by 2050 that number is expected to rise to at least 67%. As more people move into urban areas, buildings, highways and other structures are built to accommodate the growth. Green spaces and other natural environments that once flourished are pushed out to make room for man-made structures. Not only is space for plants and wildlife compromised but often they have to fight to exist at all.
But wherever there are areas of soil along freeways, in the cracks of sidewalks and in vacant lots, plant life can be found. We often look at these plants as weeds but many of them are actually tenacious, pioneer-like plants claiming new territory. They often have to fight off pollution, lack of water, trampling and other forms of neglect. Although clusters of “pioneer plants” can be found in any city or town, each one is actually a unique ecosystem. Looking at them more closely can provide a real appreciation of the adaptability of these plants and can be an excellent resource for learning about our relationship with nature.
There is a growing movement in cities around the world working to change our relationship with these neglected spaces. Urban gardeners of all kinds are reclaiming and cultivating any bits of land they can find. Entire vacant lots and roadsides are being transformed into flower or vegetable gardens. Will Allen in Milwaukee, Ron Finley in Los Angeles, Occupy the Farm in Albany, CA are just a few of the many individuals and collectives working to change their communities through gardening. All three have transformed stretches of land into viable agricultural areas and are working to educate others around issues of food justice, urban farming and land reform.
Other “guerrilla gardeners” are working on a much smaller scale. Three art students from the Superior School of Art and Design in Reims, France have manufactured Urban Greenhouses which are placed around plants that naturally grow in the cracks of sidewalks or other “undesirable” locations. The greenhouses provide a protective barrier for the plant and call attention to the fact that they exist.
In London, artist Steve Wheen (video below), better known as the Pothole Gardener, aims to brighten commuters’ days by planting colorful flowers in potholes on the sidewalks and in streets.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowGreen
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
KQED Forum radio segment A Field Guide to Urban Foraging
A growing number of city slickers are foraging for fruit growing in a neighbor’s backyard, for mushrooms in the local park or for weeds by the roadside that might make a nice salad. We talk to local foragers about how to hunt down and prepare dandelions, berries, snails, frogs and other delights.
WikiHow article How to Start Guerrilla Gardening
Guerrilla gardening is a term used to describe the unauthorized cultivation of plants or crops on vacant public or private land. For some practitioners, Guerrilla Gardening is a political statement about land rights or reform; for others, it is primarily an opportunity to beautify and improve neglected, barren or overgrown spaces.
KQED QUEST article Urban Farms in San Francisco Struggle to Put Down Roots
Americans are falling in love with city gardens. From truck bed farms to guerrilla gardening, urbanites have found a way to bring small scale farming into the city. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas.
KQED Spark video Natalie Jeremijenko
One of the hottest topics in modern science is genetic cloning. In this episode of “Art Meets Nature,” Spark trails along with artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko as she moves forward with her ambitious project, “OneTree(s),” a combination of art, science and nature. A long-term project, “OneTree(s)” is a citywide enviro-social sculpture that encourages individual action and community dialogue around contemporary environmental issues.
KQED Bay Area Bites article Want To Forage In Your City? There’s a Map For That
If you really love your peaches and want to shake a tree, there’s a map to help you find one. That goes for veggies, nuts, berries and hundreds of other edible plant species, too. Avid foragers Caleb Philips and Ethan Welty launched an interactive map last month that identifies more than a half-million locations across the globe where fruits and veggies are free for the taking.