2433 Designing Healthy Cities: A PBS Documentary and Outreach Initiative

Friday, February 19, 2010: 1:30 PM
Room 4 (San Diego Convention Center)
Andy Lipkis , TreePeople, Los Angeles, CA
With more than half the world's population now residing in cities, the traditional supply-side approach to providing for growing urban infrastructure needs is placing increasing pressures on natural ecosystems, not only stressing them but compromising their ability to supply the critical services we need to sustain our lives.  Traditional engineered solutions – pipes, paving, and other forms of single-purpose “gray” infrastructure - not only are expensive and resource-intensive, but too often they fix one problem only to worsen others.  And in these times of severe weather fuelled by climate change, they are too costly and take too long to deploy at a scale sufficient to protect the health and safety of urban communities. Given today’s entwined crises of health, climate, environment and economy, integrated green infrastructure solutions are needed that invest in both human and natural capital. As demonstrated by TreePeople, this integrated approach effectively conserves natural resources such as energy and water, saves money, creates jobs and economic development, and strengthens the health and resiliency of communities and individuals. Integrated green infrastructure uses trees and forest-mimicking technologies to restore watershed functionality to urban settings.  Using the tree as the ultimate unit of urban infrastructure, TreePeople’s approach to community forestry demonstrates that cities can regain their watershed functionality, from the neighborhood level  up to an entire region .  For nearly four decades TreePeople has demonstrated how cities and the people who live in them can become healthier and more resilient by mobilizing residents of all ages and backgrounds – from the grass roots to agency and government leaders -- to restore the natural watershed to the Los Angeles region.  Its demonstration projects have started with integrated cost-benefit analyses and then scaled to on-the-ground projects and plans including the Sun Valley Watershed Project and the LA City Integrated Resources Plan for Water.  In each case, TreePeople's approach engaged and educated communities and attracted multiple government partners who collaborated and contributed to create more effective programs. The presentation will highlight these inspiring examples and outcomes and point to the possibilities of adopting these practices on a much wider scale.
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