A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Innovative? What does that mean?

My campaign literature (still being developed) will claim I am innovative and creative. But what does that mean? Here's a specific example. On Tuesday night the City of Sarasota took testimony regarding the potential of "greening" downtown. Many citizen's spoke encouraging more plantings or objecting to existing or planned developments that seemed to make the downtown less green. 

I listened carefully and spoke about street trees on Main Street -- nothing very innovative there. But I did toss two new ideas in the hopper:

No net loss of cabbage palms. Since cabbage palms are so easy to transplant, why not formally or informally work with those developing downtown parcels to relocate whatever cabbage palms are in the footprint of their developments to public spaces? That w
ay there would be no net loss of our native palms -- we'd avoid shipping removed ones to the landfill and importing into others from rural ranches to populate downtown landscapes. 

Living Walls.  Living walls are a new trend in green construction. Websites are bristling with photos of living walls in Europe. Example One. Example Two. Example Three. Some of these are indoor, some outdoor, but most have more or less e
laborate systems to supply the plants with a substrate and water. 

But we already have living walls downtown -- look at the creeping fig (Ficus pumila) that covers the building on the southeast corner of Cocoanut and Palm. I think there is more creeping fig on Palm Avenue at Sarasota News and Books. This plant cover no doubt lowers temperatures, produces oxygen, etc.  It needs to be pruned away from windows and we need to understand the structural implications of allowing vines to cling to buildings, but here is a way to "green" an urban area without using up any pedestrian space. And vine covered walls have been shown to discourage graffiti.

The image above right is a scan of notecard produced by John Langmann, which can be purchased at Sarasota News and Books. Gorgeous no? It depicts the western wall of Sarasota News and Books, which is covered with creeping fig and features a large Bougainvillea. Imagine more of our city so covered.

By now some readers may be convinced I would make a good county groundskeeper, but are somewhat less sure about a county commissioner. Don't get lost in the chlorophyll. Look at the underlying inclinations to reduce costs and waste and take advantage of what we already have around here rather than falling for the latest thing. Ask SCOPE Board members if my penchant for unexpected solutions to a wide variety of challenges doesn't manifest itself in many contexts, not just civic landscaping. 

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