Archive for October, 2010

A High Line for Sustainability

A development called The High Line, in New York City, is a project that offers its city dwellers an escape from the hustling city streets. The High Line was built in the 1930’s and originally used for freight traffic. The rails were lifted 30 feet in the air which removed dangerous trains from the crowded streets. Through time, growth of interstate trucking led to an abandonment of the line. In 2009, The High Line was repurposed and became a public walking park that is elevated above the city streets, with views of the city skyline and the Hudson River.

Along with being a safe place to walk, The High Line offers many benefits to the neighborhood which include the world’s longest green roof, gathering areas, and a rise in neighborhood interest with many restaurants, and store openings. The High Line should serve as a model for other cities to adopt as a way to create sustainability. During construction, community input sessions were held to encourage neighborhood residents to share their ideas. These are tactics that all American cities should use in order to represent an opportunity for citizens to become more involved in sustainability planning. With thousands of people walking The High Line in a day, it is evident that American cities could only benefit from creating a more friendly walking space. The best part about The High Line is that it was created by using space that had been previously abandoned, unused and dilapidated. Walking is the cleanest and most affordable mean of transportation, so we should all have a walking opportunity to walk on a innovation like the High Line!


Vote to Save Our Planet

In 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into California state law, a very important environmental emissions legislation, Ab32, that forced large companies to control their greenhouse gas emissions. The law required that large corporations would be monitored and required to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions to the levels they were at in 1990 by the year 2020. It was a landmark bill that was attempting to create a more environmentally conscientious state and did in fact create an upswing in green energy jobs and environmental innovation. However, the past four years since the bill was passed have been tumultuous in California to say the least, and critics have blamed the bill for limited job growth in established manufacturing jobs. In an effort to repeal the bill, the oil industry has funded an initiative to overturn the landmark AB32 law. Valero, Tesoro Companies, and Flint Hills Resources are three large contributors to the initiative donating over $6.5 million dollars.

To repeal AB32 would be detrimental to California and the nation as a whole. There is no doubt that businesses need to manufacture and distribute their products in a more environmentally conscious way. Day by day Californians are doing their part to are taking large steps to contribute to a cleaner state. Now it’s time for manufacturers to do their part, and so it is essential that voters let it be known that Ab32 needs to be voted NO on. To argue that job growth has been limited because of of AB32 is just not correct; job growth has been limited because of the economic problems of our whole country. If anything, saying yes to Proposition 23 is going to contribute to the growth of clean energy businesses who will be working day in and day out to ensure that California businesses are able to operate under the new guidelines, which will benefit all of us.

DIY “Green” Home

From energy efficient light bulbs to composting your dinner scraps,  there are many ways to contribute to the well-being of our planet in our very own home. In an article on, there’s an article about introducing and educating people on how to “green” their own homes. Some of the innovations mentioned are easy to do like composting meal scraps but many of the ideas are just downright expensive.

The article describes about 10 ways to “green” your home but all of them will cost the average neighbor thousands of dollars to do. Let’s be honest, in order to get a bigger population of people to be more environmentally friendly, we need to make green products cheaper.  With the economy the way it is, people aren’t going to spend $3,000 on a solar generator. It just doesn’t sound right to the typical shopper to spend a crazy amount of money on a generator when they can easily spend $200 on a gas-powered generator. Another idea mentioned is a “green” shed made out of recycled wood and windows for a low cost of  $1,500.

Articles like this are awesome and a great way to educate people but I wish they would have mentioned a few cheaper ideas for us to try before spending thousands of dollars.

Urban Gardens in Oakland

There are many connections we make throughout a lifetime from plants and animals to humans and the environment but one connection never assumed is between the satisfaction gardening brings and the relationships they can create for communities. While gardening and agriculture are not a new phenomenon, neighborhoods and cities around the world are gradually reaping the benefits that urban gardens provide. As sustainability becomes an integral tool for present households, it is crucial for urban cities to adopt the concept of public gardens in order to construct and maintain community friendships.

Community and participation are absent terms in today’s society. Relationships and community communication are increasingly low and depressing. Whether the problem is the result of work obsession, loss of time, or interest; getting people into conversation and engagement is crucial for the overall link between neighborhoods and households. Citizens need a productive reason to tear themselves away from their televisions and computers in order to become active. There are many strategies that cities may use to connect people but one tool that Oakland uses is urban gardening.

Oakland’s City Slicker Farms operates six gardens and People’s Grocery oversees two gardens in West Oakland.  Public gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, improved neighborhood morale, and lowers crime by increasing the sense of eyes on the street.  With 60% poverty rate, Oakland residents are in need of the urban farm push which not only feeds residents but ensures sustainability. Low-income households are increasingly left with cheap factory made fast foods. Bringing in urban gardens would promote healthy eating habits and the consumption of local organic, unprocessed foods.