Depave, a charity in Portland, Ore., whose mission tagline—“From parking lots to paradise”—upends the old Joni Mitchell song.
True to its name, the organization promotes the removal of urban
pavement to create community green spaces, not just to prettify cities
but also to prevent stormwater runoff from sweeping pollutants into
streams and rivers.
Over the past five years, Depave, has organized 24
events to remove 94,100 square feet of concrete and asphalt from sites
around the city of Portland, soaking up more than 2,221,000 gallons of
stormwater that otherwise would have gone into storm drains.
Depave hosts four to six “prys” each summer, recruiting an
all-volunteer labor force to break, pry up, and remove pavement from
unused parking lots and former playgrounds. It is arduous and filthy
work, yet 60 to 100 supporters show up each time to help.