My next report on Richmond's urban gardening conference is from the workshop titled "Urban Gardening and Greening for a Robust Economy". It included Meghan Gough, who teaches urban and regional planning, and she pumped me up on the value of Greenmaps in helping to revive cities and the neighborhoods in them. Greenmaps plot ecological and cultural assets – the kinds of features everyone's looking for more than ever. Realtors love them, and that tells us
For example, Baltimore Green Map plots "Baltimore's
ecological and cultural resources and our city's
progress toward becoming a healthy, sustainable
urban environment" and in only its second year already shows 331 such assets. Like what? Like hiking and bird-watching spots, community gardens, and vegetarian restaurants. The project also includes
print maps, events and activities. The map is linked to on the city's website.
But get this: Baltimore's Green Map was started as an antidote to a prominent local map with a not-so-positive impact – the one that plots all the homicide spots in the city, helpfully published on the Baltimore Sun website. The Green Map was envisioned as an "upbeat alternative to it that might inspire people to make the city a greener place" and I bet it does exactly that.
Professor Gough also defined for us what a "sustainable urban environment" is – one that works toward economic development, environmental protection, equity and social justice. Wow, I'd say that covers the waterfront. But here's the rub – there's an inherent conflict between the slow or managed growth movement on the one hand and economic development and affordability on the other. Wish there'd been time to hear more about that.
This is one of many short reports from a conference about urban gardening, thanks to the generous support of Olive Barn, EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow in Los Angeles, Barbara Feldt of NY City, Cathy Mastromauro in Cincinnati, and Peter Hoh in Minneapolis.