Making Space

plant15big.jpgI grew up deep in the country, and at heart I still think of myself as something of a country boy. This feeling is in stark contrast to living in New York City, famous for being extremely urban. When I was young, I remember not really understanding gardens, or even back yards. After all, what use is a tiny little strip of green when you have fields and forests at your disposal?

Since arriving in this fair city, however, my outlook on garden space has changed dramatically. I constantly crave any contact with nature, and fully understand and support those .0035 acre gardens that pop up in random sections of the city.

As such, there are a few new city modification projects that I’ve been watching. First, there is a group called Project Orange Thumb, an organization that provided mini-grants for people to jump start their own green spaces. Each grantee will receive $1500 worth of tools and $800 toward plants and materials for a garden, but only groups should apply. This is because, in the eyes of the granters, the garden is more than a green space: it’s a green social space. On closer examination, this cross section is important to the entire organization.

The grants project is part of a larger company called Fiskers, which seems to be a surprising combination of community builder and manufacturer. They make all sorts of garden gear, school supplies and home crafting kits, but then appear to either give a lot of it away or provide all sorts of community building organizations for their clients. Though not a company for your giving dollars in a traditional sense, it is certainly interesting to see the cross over between For Profit and grant giver and community builder.

The second group is called Sustainable South Bronx. Social Justice through going green is the name of their game, very much after my own heart after all the Green Collar job reading I’ve been doing. However, there is a specific project that they are undertaking right now that plays into the urban green space question: green roofs. Chicago is the first city to launch green roofs on a large scale, but Sustainable South Bronx is bringing them to the New York area in style. After all, what are you doing with all that unused roof space?

You can make a lot of arguments for investing in green urban spaces. But for me, a country boy stuck in the big city, any nod to escaping the constant cement and steel is reason enough.

Alan Smith

Posted at 1:00 AM, Nov 18, 2008 in Environment | Health | Philanthropic Strategy | Social Entreprenuers | Permalink | Comment