Welcome to the Greening in the Red Zone blog. Here you will read about examples of people turning to nature in times of crisis to get through hardships from the news media, and from personal accounts. Of particular interest are stories of people whose involvement in "greening" immediately after a disaster or war increased their own and their community's resistance and resilience to the disturbance. We hope you will find inspiration in these stories, and we welcome you to add your own stories of Greening in the Red Zone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Greening initiatives in Christchurch, New Zealand

On February 22, 2011,  the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was rocked by a large, shallow earthquake right underneath the city. A previous earthquake on September 4, 2010, had caused major damage in the province but only minor damage to the city, but the February quake caused significant loss of life and devastation to the central business district and to residential suburbs in  the east of the city. As this part of the city is built on old swamplands and beachsands, flooding and liquefaction were major problems in the days after the quake. All of the CBD was red zoned and large tracts of housing in the eastern city will have to be demolished.
  Christchurch has always prided itself on being "The Garden City". Many people are keen gardeners, and the sight of precious gardens inundated with grey, sludgy, smelly liquefaction was as heartbreaking to citizens as the loss of their homes. The Student Army and Farmy Army (students and farmers from surrounding countryside) helped residents dig out their gardens, but aftershocks continued to pump sludge up from the water-table.
  Many voluntary groups were set up to deal with many areas of the disaster, two in particular to do with green issues, but quite different in their scope and aims.
  Greening the Rubble www.greeningtherubble.org.nz was set up to make some of the ugly demolition sites into green areas, where people could relax and enjoy natural beauty. They work with site owners, and carry out temporary landscaping with donated materials and plants, with volunteer labour. These sites are entirely temporary; their function is to provide greenery until the sites are rebuilt with permanent structures, and the landscaping (bricks, stone gabions, seats) is designed to be moveable from one site to another. They've found that 'temporary' is a somewhat flexible term though; site owners have often asked them to stay longer as insurance payout timeframes have lengthened.
 Quite different in intention is the Avon-Otakaro Network www.avonotakaronetwork.co.nz. This is a group whose focus is political and long-term, formed to further the creation of a new city park, stretching along the Avon River from the estuary to the central city. The government is proposing to grass over these areas after the houses, trees and gardens have been removed, and to "leave the land fallow" for many years to come.  The Avon-Otakaro Network has presented a petition to Parliament, with the aim of conserving the heritage trees in this part of the city. The inner part of the eastern city is an old area of town, with many established, well-loved gardens, which will be bulldozed if some action is not taken. People living there have accepted losing their homes, but are more upset at the thought of the destruction of the trees and shrubs they have nurtured for many years. No firm decision has been made yet about the future of the red-zoned residential area after the houses are gone; hopefully, a new park can be built and years of residence can be remembered with a greenway, a walking and cycling path along the river from the sea to the city.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kieve Hosts 10th Anniversary 9/11 Family Camp

A wonderful example of greening, green spaces, and outdoor recreation as a resilient response to a red zone event... from http://www.kieve.org/news_events/index.php.

Kieve-Wavus hosted the 10th Annual Family Camp for families affected by the September 11th tragedies. Individuals and families from a number of FDNY firehouses and Cantor Fitzgerald in New York as well as The Pentagon all arrived at Kieve for another fun-filled and relaxing week on the shores of Damariscotta Lake. Kieve-Wavus Executive Director Henry Kennedy said, “these families have endured unimaginable loss and it has been an honor and a pleasure welcoming them each year to relax, heal and share with one another at Kieve”. Pat Friscia whose brother was a fireman with FDNY Ladder Co 3 said after the week, "this is a very special week for my family, our entire family was at Disney earlier this year and all the kids talked about was coming back to Kieve, it is a special place in our hearts”.
New to the camp this year was world renowned fire engine and equipment restorer Andy Swift of Hope, Maine offering rides to kids and adults in his 1927 American LaFrance fire engine. Andy also hosted a tour of his shop the next day for everyone to see the craftsmanship and detail of his fire equipment restorations. Once again, one evening the firemen took over the kitchen and prepared a delicious Italian dinner for everyone. And back for the 10th time, musician Bruce Marshall and his guest James Montgomery provided great live music and dancing on the last night.
Many of the FDNY families at camp were associated with Ladder Company 3 and Battalion 6 on September 11, 2001 where twelve members were lost while evacuating civilians from the North Tower. On July 20th Ladder 3’s truck “Big Red” became a permanent part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. A crane lowered the 60,000-lbs. truck 70 feet into the exhibition area. It was wrapped to protect it and draped with an American and FDNY flag. The front of the truck was shorn off in the collapse of the towers and its main body and ladders were damaged beyond repair and some of the company's rescue tools are entangled in the vehicle. It has been stored at Hangar 17 at JFK International Airport since its recovery.
According to 9/11 Family Camp Director Russ Williams, “we had another incredible week together with 4 new families joining us for the largest camp since 2002. Once again many volunteers along with local businesses and our staff helped make this another very special week for our friends from Washington DC & New York.”
The events of September 11th, 2001 changed the world and changed our lives forever. Thanks to the financial support of many individuals over the years, Kieve has had a unique opportunity to share facilities, it's wonderful staff and volunteers with these special families. Williams says, “It is very rewarding for all of our staff and volunteers to be able to help these very dear friends who really appreciate our local community and Maine hospitality”. Downeast Magazine recently mentioned Kieve's 9/11 Family Camp - take a look at Downeast Magazine