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This tiny demo green roof was completed for a Buffalo Show House project. Photo Buffalo Rising/Queenseyes

A story about Spokane and
Seattle illustrates the dichotomy inherent in making sustainability part of
city planning. When he was mayor of Spokane in 2001, John Powers proposed a
green roof for Spokane’s City Hall. Chicago’s City Hall had one, after all. He
was literally laughed out of the Common Council Chambers when one of the councilmen
dressed up in bib overalls and handed out gardening gloves to his fellow
legislators (hmm, wonder what make they were?).

Now Powers
lives in Seattle, where he works as an attorney and consultant, in a building
with a massive green roof, and there have since been quite a number of green roofs installed in
Spokane (but still not on City Hall).  The antics of the councilman struck a chord with me though. In
smaller municipal areas, the educational process is slower and the awareness is
often just not there.

I would have no problem with my tax dollars helping to pay
for conference travel (politicians always go to them anyway) if it helped them
learn about urban farms, city chickens, green roofs, conserving storm run-off,
rain gardens, preventing urban food deserts, and whatever else. Sure, it can be
in Las Vegas, because they won’t go unless it is.  They’ll pick something up. We can’t all be Chicago and
Seattle; something needs to be done, because good ideas aren’t percolating down
fast enough.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on August 5, 2009 at 8:23 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.