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City Girl: A Natural Conservationist?

Joking aside, I loved living in Philly. And, as an adopted daughter of the city, I am proud to see the steps taken by the city and my alma mater to beautify and green the town. I’ve followed two of these partnerships particularly closely:

  • Green 2015” is a plan to add 500 acres of green space to Philadelphia. This isn’t about one large park. It’s about turning Philly’s abundance of vacant lots and buildings into often tiny green spaces (community gardens, picnic areas, playgrounds). A Wharton team quantified the benefits of these spaces, from higher property values (and, therefore, real estate taxes), to millions of dollars in averted emergency calls, to $5 million worth of locally-grown produce and the prevention of 20 cases of asthma. Such green areas also reduce the strain on the city’s sewers, by replacing impervious asphalt or roofs with rain-absorbing grass and trees, saving potentially $35 million in storm-water management costs.
  • At 14 acres, Penn Park is a relatively large blob in the Green 2015 plan for Philly that shows how these benefits come to life. When I was a student at Penn, the land along the Schuylkill River near 30th Street Station was an unsightly and dangerous wasteland of asphalt and broken glass. Through sheer determination and creative financing, the University bought the land from the U.S. Postal Service and turned it into a beautiful, safe space for students, athletes, and those seeking solace amongst trees and grass. High-tech lighting and a system of cisterns that capture and re-use rainwater for irrigation mean a low energy and water footprint, too.

Many of Philly’s fellow urban centers are making strides to clean up their acts:  from groundbreaking sustainability and climate preparedness programs, to increased investments in parks, bike shares, farmers’ markets and green roofs. You might say cities are leading the way in conservation by showing that urban dwellers can reduce their impact on the earth, and help protect the land, water and air on which we all depend.

And whether you live in the city, or the country, you can do your part. To learn about small actions you can take, visit The Nature Conservancy’s All Hands on Earth campaign and pitch in!

[Image credit: Flickr user marusula via Creative Commons.]

Sarene Marshall is the managing director for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Team. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Studies from University of Pennsylvania, and is fluent in Spanish. Sarene, a mother of two, enjoys gardening and gourmet cooking.

Read more: Community, Environment, Green, Life, Nature, , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Sarene Marshall, The Nature Conservancy

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9:11AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Thank you! This is such good stuff.

12:20PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

One of the reasons I love Toronto with all of its warts - lots of trees and plants; newest ideas being incorporated into newer buildings; although I'm really not sure about all these new condos which may or not be up to Canadian building specs in some aspects.
Of course it would help if we could find the money and the will to upgrade our TTC system. I like the idea of building the new lines underground.

6:20PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

Thanks for the share!

2:39PM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

We can all be Conservationists regardless of where we live. Thanks for sharing

1:10PM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

thanks

2:08AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

We must do what we can. Thanks for sharing.

1:29AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

Thanks

11:33PM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

Anyone can do anything :-) great info thanks

7:20PM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

thanks...we all have to do what we can to be green wherever we are.....being green isn't always easy to pseudo-quote a famous green.....

5:57PM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

Great article, But I find it odd that you skipped any mention of Fairmount Park. This park system dwarfs Central Park many times over. In the 19th century the city of Philadelphia made a profound commitment to protect the riparian lands within the city limits. Fairmount Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the world, including both the wild Wissahickon gorge, as well as refined Olmstead designed landscapes. The article gives the impression that Philadelphia has only recently committed to green space by cobbling together ad hoc vacant lots, pocket parks, and community gardens in an otherwise unrelieved urban landscape. I know you must be aware of this. The omission of this information is puzzling.

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