One of the more exciting projects we have had the opportunity to work on lately is the Greentopia EcoDistrict. Last month, we held our first public meeting, and it was a great time! The public meeting was held at ER Studio and Lounge, a dance studio and event space on State Street in the EcoDistrict. This unique space really helped show off what the area already has to offer.
The purpose of this first meeting was to get initial input and ideas, so we started off with a presentation from Rachel Walsh, the EcoDistrict Coordinator, before splitting into groups to generate ideas.
Rachel’s presentation began with a description of some of the issues in cities today. Sixty percent of North America’s population lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to reach three-quarters by 2050. Cities account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 75% of energy consumption. Our cities also contribute to a vast equity gap: the zip code a child is born into has a bigger role in determining that child’s future than any other single factor. Cities in the US also face a $1 trillion+ infrastructure backlog, comprising everything from ruptured water mains to decaying public buildings, bridges, roads and transit. On top of all this is the growing threat of climate change.
The EcoDistricts Protocol is a response to those issues. The EcoDistricts Protocol is a process-based framework and certification standard that empowers equitable, resilient, sustainable neighborhoods and districts for all. It is designed to support diverse project teams represented by public, private, and non-profit groups. One distinctive of the EcoDistricts Protocol is equity, which isn’t consistently addressed in other district-scale projects, often distorting the benefits and intensifying the negative impacts of investments.
Rachel presented information about two other EcoDistricts. She explained the projects, priorities, and roadmaps of the Sun Valley EcoDistrict and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.
The group then split and went to the three stations. At the first station, attendees were invited to ask questions and learn more. Rachel answered questions and explained the details of the Protocol and the High Falls EcoDistrict. At the second station, ideas for the new EcoDistrict were collected and discussed. André documented the ideas, which ranged from using water power to power streetlights, to bungee jumping from the Pont de Renne. At the third station, attendees shared their vision for the EcoDistrict by finishing the sentence “My vision for the EcoDistrict is…” on a blackboard. Jen took “Vision Portraits” of each peron with their board.