Greening the city
At a recent workshop on urban gardening in Dhaka, organized by WBB Trust and the Youth School for Social Entrepreneurs, people presented about the benefits of growing more food in our cities.
The list of benefits was so long that my eyes started to glaze over. Green roofs would mean cooler buildings, helping to reduce the urban heat island effect. People would have the opportunity to come into more contact with greenery and living things; their stress would thus decline. The food we produce would be healthier and tastier than what we can buy. There are all sorts of possibilities for generating local business and barter, thereby strengthening our local economies and our communities. If we also compost our household vegetable waste, we will reduce landfill and the need to set aside space and burn fuel to deal with trash. And on and on.
A Bangladeshi woman studying in Germany showed her designs for rooftop composting and gardening. A young man from Kerala in India described how the government has supported the idea, actually providing seed bags to families, helping to create an urban gardening revolution. A government official also supported the concept. Someone asked about ways we might help to “green the slums.” As I sat at the table watching mostly young people burning with enthusiasm, and as we discussed ways to generate greater interest and spread the idea throughout Dhaka, it was impossible not to feel inspired.
We still have a lot of follow-up to do to take the ideas to the next level, but I have high hopes that this particular revolution will indeed be home grown, on people’s verandahs and rooftops, and spread throughout the city, bringing healthy fresh produce, emotional wellbeing, and a cooler city in all senses of the word.
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