It Takes a Village to Green an Alley

Philip Silva, New York.  David Maddox, New York City. 
October 16, 2016

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.

Story Notes: More and more cities throughout the world are turning to parks, gardens, green roofs, and other kinds of “green infrastructure” to soak up storm water and simultaneously create vibrant new patches of open space for their citizens.

In this podcast, produced by Philip Silva, we explore three cases of green infrastructure that have popped up in alleyways and on sidewalks in São Paulo, Brazil, Los Angeles, California, and Montreal, Canada.

Though all three cases are unique, each points toward the need for a thoughtful community organizing and engagement strategy in getting new green infrastructure projects off the ground.

Parc Oxygène before, as a community created amenity, and after it was returned to grey infrastructure.
Parc Oxygène before, as a community created amenity, and after it was returned to grey infrastructure.
Rendering of an LA green alley.
Rendering of an LA green alley.

We hear from Tori Kjer, the Director of the Trust for Public Land in Los Angeles where residents of the South Park neighborhood have been working with city officials to create the Avalon Green Alley Network. We also hear from Anna Deitzsch, director of the São Paulo office of Davis Brody Bond Architects, the firm helping to create storm water friendly sidewalks linking new communities on the outskirts of the city. Finally, we check in with Janice Astbury, a researcher and former resident of Montreal who recounts the rise and fall of Parc Oxygene, a green alley that was bulldozed in 2014 to make way for residential development.

To learn more about each initiative introduced in this podcast, check out Crosstalk Essays by each of our three contributors here at The Nature of Cities:

Discounting our Engagement and Betraying our Affections for Urban Nature
by Janice Astbury (December 2015)

How Can Local Design Impact Large Infrastructure Plans and Projects?
by Anna Dietzsch (June 2015)

Green Infrastructure that Creates Climate Resilience, Human Resilience, and Quality of Life in Los Angeles’ Underserved Neighborhoods
by Tori Kjer (April 2016)

Philip Silva

About the Writer:
Philip Silva

Philip's work focuses on informal adult learning and participatory action research in social-ecological systems. He is dedicated to exploring nature in all of its urban expressions.

Philip Silva

Philip Silva

TreeKit, Cornell University Ithaca, NY USA Philip Silva is a Ph.D. student in Natural Resources at Cornell University. His work focuses on informal adult learning and participatory action research in social-ecological systems. For the past four years, Silva taught courses in urban forestry, environmental history, and design at The New School. In 2011, Silva was one of 25 national leaders convened by the US Forest Service to participate in the “Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests” task force. He has worked with some of NYC’s leading environmental organizations, including Sustainable South Bronx, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Just Food, and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance. Philip is a recipient of the 2010 iLAB Residency of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature, and Dance (“iLAND”) and a 2009 Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. He currently serves as co-founder and co-director of TreeKIT, an initiative to measure, map, and collaboratively manage urban forests. A native of Newark, NJ with a graduate degree in urban policy analysis, Silva is dedicated to exploring nature in all of its urban expressions.

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