ETech 09: Urban Green Space

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Elizabeth Goodman: “Designing for Urban Green Space”. A talk from Tuesday afternon at ETech 09. Goodman is from the UC Berkeley School of Information.

Urban green space is not “natural”. eg Golden Gate Park in San Francisco took 40[?] years to develop from bare earth. Plants take years of cultivation and can’t just be installed.

Design is a form of politics. What public visits the park? Whose community is in the garden?

Urban green spaces are a technology. But for what end?

What does she mean by urban green spaces? Big places like Golden Gate Park or Central Park; smaller neighbourhood areas; window boxes and planters; back yards and house plants.

The challenges: Awareness, Complexity, Maintenance, Costs.

About a green space that has been created by a community: “Quite literally made out of people.” [No, precisely not “literally”.]

Data feeds, monitoring plants. Botanicalls. Easy Bloom — assesses the soil and tells you what will grow. We’ve lost a lot of gardening knowledge so this is one way “to pay a little extra to know a little bit more.” — an online gardening community. Creating an enormous database of intensely local knowledge. Can almost tell you when your neighbours plant things, what problems they encounter, when they water, etc.

Landshare — “Linking people who want to grow their own food to space where they can grow it.” Growers, Landowners, Land-spotters, Facilitators. eg, have someone grow tomatoes in your back yard. — An attempt to map fruit trees whose owners don’t mind you picking the fruit. — A portal for park complaints. Figured out who needs to be automatically emailed with the complaints. Make history of responsiveness over time and report to the district supervisors. Gives a good idea of what gets fixed fastest where.

Remote imaging — using satellites to see large changes over time, eg increase/decrease of green space; changes in air quality.

Thinking of green spaces as networks. Farmadelphia: A proposal for the use of empty lots in Philadelphia — turn them into small areas for growing food. Distributed food production. My Farm San Francisco — they plant veg in your backyard and every month you get a box of veg from the various backyards.

PlantSF. Quote from the site: “PlantSF exists to promote permeable landscaping equally as sustainable urban infrastructural practice and as a beautification effort; by providing information to the public and by partnering with city and neighborhood organizations.”

Guerrilla Gardening in London. Take over abandoned areas and plant them at night. People from the neighbourhood look after the plants.

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While I applaud the compiling of public fruit resources, I don't believe Fallen Fruit actually limits itself to "trees whose owners don’t mind you picking the fruit". Often, it seems they decide for themselves whether the owner *should* mind it or not. I'm for civil, polite and consensual harvesting of non-public fruit resources.

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