Elevated parks in Paris and New York

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If you find yourself in Paris or New York, I would recommend exploring and comparing two similar parks that I have visited: one in New York (the High Line park) and in Paris (Promenade plantée). Both parks are built on top of obsolete railway infrastructure above the street level. Both parks are sources of inspiration for environmentalists, artists, and other residents. If you want to learn more about the High Line, here are two good books:

  • David, J., & Hammond, R. (2011). High Line: The inside story of New York City’s park in the sky. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • La Farge, A. (2012). On the High Line: Exploring America’s most original urban park (pp. 218). New York: Thames & Hudson.
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California Academy of Science: green roof

This is perhaps one of the most impressive green roofs I have seen. California Academy of Science in San Francisco is an advanced, cutting-edge green building. Above their rainforest dome and planetarium, they constructed a green roof covered by native plants. From an observation terrace you can take a look at the roof, which resembles the topography of San Francisco. Interpretive signage informs you that the roof absorbs rainwater and provides a wildlife corridor. Construction of green roofs is quite expensive, but they have a great deal of educational value – whether the roof is to preserve native vegetation or to grow vegetables such as at a rooftop farm in Queens (http://urbanee.org/2011/07/30/rooftop-farm).

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Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

TV studios and repair shops topped with a green roof with a panoramic view of Manhattan skyline and East River… This is the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn, New York. I was lucky to go there earlier this week with Carol Kennedy, a high school science teacher, and her students from the Bronx. Students said they have never seen green roofs, and after this trip they would like to see one on top of their school in the Bronx.

Green roof in Shanghai

Jennifer Chapman and Todd Gordon, high school biology teachers at the Concordia International School in Shanghai have shown me a green roof on their school. The green roof and a green wall are outstanding: they are huge and provide a nice view from classrooms. However, Jennifer would like to add more educational value to these green spaces. We have conducted a brainstorming session with her students to generate ideas what else can be done on the roof to make it more useful for learning. Some of ideas suggested by students include: install a butterfly garden, create a composting area, grow edible plants, plant small trees and shrubs to attract birds, and install solar-powered cascade fountains.

Teachers Todd Gordon (left) and Jennifer Chapman (right) with students visiting the green roof.

Green roof in the Bronx

Students in Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Bronx, New York City, maintain a green roof on a church. Young people plant native species of grass and remove invasive species. The roof reduces stormwater runoff, reduces heating costs in winter, keeps the building cooler in summer, and provides educational opportunities for community members. Videography: Alex Kudryavtsev. Narrators: Julien Terrell, Andre Rivera.

Students maintaining a green roof

High-school students at Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Bronx, New York City, take care of a green roof on a church.

Restoring the Bronx River Forest

Students from the Mosholu Preservation Corporation in the North Bronx installing biodegradable fabric to control invasive species and prevent soil erosion. Student’s mentor, Nia, used to be a student at Rocking the Boat. Now she studies the environment at Binghamton University, and in summer she helps MPC organize environmental restoration with younger high-school students.