Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Green Infrastructure

A key component of turning Detroit into a more vibrant and sustainable place to live and work is green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is made of planned natural features, such as parks, green alleys, and greenways, that support both healthy ecosystems and communities. Aside from the obvious benefits of having more parks in the place that we live, this approach to planning can also help to clean our environment. By building more parks and fewer parking lots, more rainwater can soak into the ground and filter naturally instead of coming into the sewers and needing to be treated. Having more trees in our communities helps to clean the air and also take up carbon from the atmosphere. Green infrastructure can also help to support biodiversity and reduce the urban heat island effect. Where would we be without clean air and water? Or insects to pollinate plants that we eat? We depend on well-functioning ecosystems to maintain our quality of life. Green infrastructure is a great way to make neighborhoods more fun, attractive, and healthier places to live in!

DWEJ is working on a green alley project on the East Side with with Genesis Hope (http://www.genesishope.org/). Since alleys are an often neglected areas that are home to undesireable activities, revitalizing them can have a big impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. Other cities, like Chicago (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/alley/svcs/green_alleys.html), Baltimore (http://www.communitygreens.org/AGandAG) , and Los Angeles, have used green alleys to combat blight, crime, and environmental issues.

DWEJ is also working with Community Development Advocates of Detroit (http://cdadonline.ning.com/) to help develop strategic planning tool that neighborhood groups can use to help direct the future of their areas. This tool includes strategies for areas that could be redeveloped into naturescapes or green thoroughfares that would function as green infrastructure.

If you want to learn more about green infrastructure here are some links that will show you the development of green areas and links across metro-Detroit and the world!
A great place to get started: http://www.greeninfrastructurewiki.com/
Michigan Trails & Rails: http://www.michigantrails.org/projects/detroit-trails/
A greenway report from Time: http://detroit.blogs.time.com/2010/07/15/a-greenway-runs-through-it/

- Volunteer Anne Shivkovsky

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