A special thank you to Tim Matsui for letting us use his photographs in this post.

My school, Colby College, had Jan Plan. Jan Plan was great. For one month in between semesters you could do just about anything you wanted as long as you learned something. You could take a class somewhere else, learn to play the guitar, or go on a school-sponsored trip to London to study theater.

One year I went on an Earthwatch trip to Montserrat in the West Indies. Originally it was supposed to be an architectural dig but hurricane Hugo put the kibosh on that, so Earthwatch turned the trip into a hurricane relief project and asked all who had signed up if we still wanted to go. We all did.

In the main town of Montserrat, Plymouth, there had been a very old tree that marked the unofficial town gathering spot. People would meet there during the day as they went along their daily routines and at night to socialize.

The hurricane demolished the tree but people still gathered around the spot where it had been. To them this was a social routine that was not going to end because the tree was gone.

The Pomegranate Center, founded in 1986 by artist and community organizer Milenko Matanovic, is dedicated to working with communities to create public gathering places. The people of the Pomegranate Center believe their, “… time tested approach to public space building creates a foundation for healthy community development and can be a critical first step in bringing communities together to work for a healthier, more sustainable future.”

Recently the Pomegranate center completed a project in Sumner, WA that turned an alleyway into a community space.

To the left is a picture of the alley before any work was done. Not very inviting or practical as a community space.

But with hard work from Pomegranate staff members and the community this alley was transformed into the beautiful space you see below.

But with hard work from Pomegranate staff members and the community this alley was transformed into the beautiful space you see here.

The Congress for New Urbanism

February 19, 2012

At Resolution Gardens, which is located here in Austin, I read about The Congress for New Urbanism which had a post about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities which I posted about yesterday. Got all that?

CNU touts itself as “the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions.” Co-founders include Peter Calthorpe, Elizabeth Moule, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stephanos Polyzoides and Dan Solomon all people with a wealth of experience developing sustainable communities. This organization has some real potential to do good.

Also read about this good news at the CNU website Obama Administration Releases 2013 Budget, Protects Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

For Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2012

FOR VALENTINE’S DAY I’M GROWING YOU A CAT

Better than chocolates.

Historically a Green Wall was used to describe a row of hedges or low growing trees that were used to form a border or boundary. Theses days, however, the term has taken on a whole new meaning.

Green Walls, also referred to as Living Walls and Vertical Gardens, are basically gardens that grow up rather than out. Up a previously built wall or a wall that was created specifically for thee purpose of planting.

Perusing the LandscapingNetwork.com‘s facebook page I saw what I thought was a particularly imaginative and well executed Green Wall. It was done by Blooming Desert Landscapes in Bend,Oregon.

Blooming Desert Landscapes' Green Wall

According to their facebook page it is made from old pallets. I love when recycling and great esthetics come together.

A project I did with Sustain Landscape Design in New York was featured on Apartment Therapy. There are thumbnails you can click on to see other work I’ve done with Sustain as well.

By now you obviously know of my passion for gardening. What you probably don’t know is in my former life I was a competitive skier. That’s right. 6 days a week on the hill 5 months a year. Dryland training in spring summer and fall, strength training cardio; if it was grueling we did it.

I was sponsored which meant I got all new equipment every year. My school, Carrabassett Valley Academy, did a good job of recycling our old stuff – giving it to the Special Olympics, selling it to raise money for school and community projects and just plain giving some away. But I am sure plenty got tossed in the bin.

On Grist, Joshua Zaffos writes about Greg Schneider who works for Snowsports Industries America.  These days Greg is hard at work to dealing with this situation in interesting ways. The article is here.

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