Punished by pavements, Depave and Plant Paradise instead – Podcast

Depave – Adventures in Green Infrastructure Podcast 1

Ripping up the pavements - Depave
Ripping up the pavements in Portland


Adventure 1 features Ted Labbe of Depave and his brother Jim, talking ripping up pavements and planting paradise. Depave.org started in Portland, Oregon. The podcast was recorded in Rimsky-Korsakoffee House back in October 2016. Although the focus is on the evolution and work of Depave, the conversation touches on many perceptive issues associated with cities.

It all started by a group of people deciding to rip out their backyards and plant gardens inside. This lead to the first asphalt car park being ripped up in 2008. tAt the time they thought it would be a one off event.  The result was the Fargo Forest Garden – check out the video. From that one asphalt assault, they are now internationally recognised and do projects beyond Portland.

Paradise - eEpave

Punished by pavement, Punished by poverty, Punished by Pollution

Ted notes that where there is a paucity of pavement in Portland, there is less poverty. So pavements equal poverty is maybe a metric that should be looked at in more detail by green infrastructure professionals. ‘It is not the pavement beneath your feet that we are ripping up but the pavement in your mind’

‘That’s why we started it because it felt a little naughty’ Ted says. The beauty of the group is how organised they have to be, yet it still feels ‘naughty.’

Part of Ted’s thinking is about restoring the carbon storage of soil in cities – there is a nexus between water, climate change and soil.

Both Jim and Ted note that even in a city like Portland there is tremendous inequity, So Depave tries to focus its work in areas where pavement. The most pavement plagued areas of cities are the ones that have high poverty. ground level ozone levels in summer in Portland – when you have too much pavement you have all this negative health effects. Unfortunately this is not really discussed as an issue. Not only in Portland but in cities across the globe.

Dutch Do Depave too

Jim and Ted sent a link to us that features a Dutch version of Depave. Excellent and worth sharing here too. The Laboratory for Microclimates is a project that highlights the need to remove pavements in the Netherlands.  In short they too visit Portland for inspiration. And the Fargo Forest Garden features in the video too.

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