Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They Unpaved The Parking Lot For Paradise

Maia Nativ’s job involves a lot of dirty work, and she loves it. She works as a fund raiser at 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.

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