Green Infrastructure and Wild Places -- Through Artists' Eyes

One of the great things about living in Chicago is how green it is.  Literally.  Every spring I’m always amazed by the proliferation of gardens, pocket parks, and major green spaces in the city.  And many of these gardens are invisible to most us, as they exist behind row houses or, more typically, on tops of office buildings.

NRDC has long been and advocate for these kind spaces, in part because of the substantial environmental benefits they bring.  I’m so used to thinking of green roofs, for example, as, essentially, technology used to clean storm water runoff, capture carbon, and reduce the temperature of urban heat islands, that I stopped thinking of them as objects.

My wife, an arts writer, recently introduced me to the photographs of Brad Temkin, whose most recent work, Green Roofs and Rooftop Gardens, is now showing at Chicago’s City Gallery--Historic Water Tower through September 6th.

What struck me about Temkin’s photographs is how vulnerable these green roofs look.  Temkin’s roofs are beautiful, but also seem thin, like the reflecting light in many of his images.

The weird temporality of urban gardens and green spaces was is also echoed by the Chicago Mobile Garden, a flat car with native plantings, that is proposed for the Chicago El last next spring.

Credit: PJM

Strangely, each of these projects reminded me of the contrast between urban green spaces and the weight of truly wild places, like the Bristol Bay watershed, photographed by Robert Glenn Ketchum below, which NRDC is fighting to protect, and, ironically, is far more vulnerable to destruction. 

 © Robert Glenn Ketchum, with permission of the artist
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