Nature-Mimicking Infrastructure: 21st Century Technology?

Andy Lipkis, the founder and president of TreePeople, an organization in Los Angeles that brings natural concepts into the "urban forest", details his 40 years of work proving the feasibility of projects such as the Elmer Avenue Project.
December 3, 2010, 9am PST | Anonymous
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The article features exclusive, in depth Q&A with Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople.

"My body of work up until now has been about proving feasibility where there have been significant barriers in the way of policy and funds. TreePeople has decided that it's time to step it up and catalyze a plan to retrofit all of Southern California on those principles-to make our region a functioning community forest."

"Most of our contributions rely on other people's innovations from other areas that were pulled together by us to do what's appropriate for Southern California. The street swale, for example, has been executed well in Seattle and Portland. In Seattle, it's called the SEA Streets (Street Edge Alternatives) Project. What's neat about this is that there's an ongoing, cross-pollination collaboration, because Seattle was forced to take this approach to restore salmon habitat throughout the city."

"We keep coming up against this. There are conceptual blocks. One is the belief that people won't change. Tim Brick, the outgoing head of MWD, worked very hard in his last couple of years. He brought in the Australians; he brought in stories of success. I don't understand why, even when the president of the board champions this approach, it hasn't stuck at the agencies. I can tell you my guess as to why: they're stuck in a command-and-control mode, where they might not appreciate that they can still have the same quality assurance and supply assurance through a distributed smart system."

Thanks to James Brasuell

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Published on Thursday, December 2, 2010 in The Planning Report
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