Archive for May 1st, 2012

May 1, 2012

Oysters: Overpriced Vacuum Cleaners? – Zach

Sorry it’s been a while. Kate Orff is a Landscape Architect based in New York.  At her most recent Ted Talk, she revealed a plan that is essentially a larger-scale Fall-Kills Project.  The concept is simple: healthy oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, therefore why not reinstate oysters back into ecosystems in which they previously thrived in order to clean them up?  Orff’s area of focus is the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn – a rather putrid canal, much more polluted than the Fall Kills and filled with heavy industry.  Orff hopes that creating North-East Oyster farms in the canal will not only help revive the ecological disaster, but also socially revive the area surrounding the canal.

Projects like this make me re-think how the Fall Kills revitalization effort should go about revitalizing the creek.  Should we start with purely social revivification and focus on the social landscape that surrounds the creek?  Should the initial focus be on the “ecological-ness” of the creek? Is the eel project really working, or is it on too small of a scale?  Do areas need to be obvious ecological disasters in order for the community to fully support and promote revitalization?

VIDEO – Oysters as Architecture

May 1, 2012

The Hudson Valley and The English Countryside — Levi Shaw-Faber

Yesterday, I bicycled to Rhinebeck. The return trip was slightly downhill, so I began to daydream. As I followed Country Road 103, which becomes River Road, and passed estate after estate, I began to feel like I was cruising through the English countryside straight out of an episode of Downton Abbey. I stopped to view one particularly beautiful clear-cut meadow. It was divided into two distinct lawns separated by a perfectly straight tree-lined driveway up to a huge manor house. As I slowed, I began to wonder why this was more aesthetically beautiful to me than the miles and miles and forest that separated the estates. Why does a clear-cut lawn catch my eye more than a dense forest? At first, I thought I enjoyed looking that the meadow more than the forest because I could see farther. But as I kept thinking, I reevaluated that. I thought back to my daydream about the English countryside. This meadow, house, and path were all constructed to mimic the ordered nature of Europe after the forests were clear-cut for fuel. My daydream was not that far off. The Hudson Valley and the English countryside look very similar. This is not a coincidence. The Hudson Valley was clear-cut for fuel like most of Europe. I have been told this many times but I still find it hard to believe. If the trees were clear cut then replanted and have became as dense as they are today, how are the forests any different than they were before we cleared them? The trees would be older but I cannot believe that the forest could get any denser. The entire ecological history of the Northeast still baffles me. Were these dense and tangled forests constructed to mimic the dense and tangled forests of Europe? We can say with certainty that the estates were built to mimic European landscaping and architecture, but what about the forests and what we consider the natural, untouched, parts of the Hudson Valley?