Giving Thanks . . . for Urban Green Space (and Canned Food Art)!

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As we all gather with our loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have so many things for which to give thanks.  Family, friends . . . football. 

Last Sunday, I took a jaunt downtown to the “Canstruction” exhibit in New York City -- an annual event to raise awareness of, and funds to fight, hunger.  It reminded me of the millions of Americans in need who rely on food pantries and other government and private assistance to feed their families.  That’s something we should all have in our thoughts (and deeds) as we sit down to our turkey and pumpkin pie on Thursday. 

The exhibit is best described as the Lego Land of canned food.  Everything from a Spam-based replica of the Brooklyn Bridge,

to giant Lady Gaga lobster claw shoes.

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But as a genuine green infrastructure geek -- and certified city slicker -- this is the one that got me the most excited.  Behold:  Cantropolis.

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(I had only an i-phone with me -- you can see much sharper pics here and here.)

Several city blocks built entirely of canned-food, complete with green infrastructure(!) in the midst of the can-crete jungle. 

And the clincher:  The explanatory signage (not pictured) highlighted the need for infrastructure investments to revitalize our cities, and made a special point of mentioning green infrastructure.  (The piece was built by an international design and engineering firm that works on green infrastructure projects in New York City and elsewhere.)

NRDC’s new report, Rooftops to Rivers II: Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows, highlights how cities across the country are using green infrastructure -- like green roofs, street trees, and porous pavement that soak up urban runoff -- to clean up local waterways and create healthier cities. 

This holiday weekend, after you’ve had your last bite of pie and the last football game is over, I invite you check it out.  Look to see if your city is one of our Emerald Cities leading the way (like Philadelphia, Syracuse, and New York City).  Since we couldn’t include everywhere in our report, you can even let us know through our website about green infrastructure plans in your region or city. 

And if your city or town hasn’t gotten the memo yet, let your local officials know about the report and tell them you want to live in an Emerald City, too!   

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, healthy Thanksgiving -- and don’t forget to thank your nearest tree for helping to make your neighborhood healthier and your favorite beach, river, or lake cleaner.