At 7:30 Sunday morning, April 21, 2013, people began to gather on a barren lot in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The temperature was already climbing into the 80s and the lot’s bare dirt reflected both heat and light, making lingering uncomfortable. By 8:00 AM, more than 30 neighborhood volunteers, Youth Hostel guests, Green Living Co-op members, PDC and university students were on-site, eager to start the day’s activities. They were here to celebrate Earth Day by installing a green infrastructure retrofit project in the Garfield Historic District; an eclectic neighborhood that is part of the larger Arts District.
The event was hosted by Watershed Management Group, who designed the project and provided funding through a Community Challenge Grant from the Arizona State Forestry Division.
The project took place at two locations along 9th Street; a side street in the Arts District. The first location was in front of the aforementioned vacant lot on the NW corner of Roosevelt and 9th Street – a bleak corner that desperately needed some greening.
By contrast, the second location a few houses up the street in front of the Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center, is surrounded by trees, shrubs and other plants making it cool and inviting.
In both locations, the idea was to use curb cores to convey storm water from the street into bioretention basins in the right-of-ways. The harvested water would be used by native vegetation that would filter pollutants while shading and beautifying the streetscape.
So what is “Green Infrastructure”?
Green infrastructure (GI) refers to constructed features that use living, natural systems to provide environmental services, such as capturing, cleaning and infiltrating stormwater; creating wildlife habitat; shading and cooling streets and buildings; and calming traffic. GI is a strategy that a growing number of communities are using to manage stormwater more sustainably, while using that water to grow vegetation that provides myriad benefits.” — Watershed Management Group