Spatial privatization watch

Sketch of a Planters Grove with Nutmobile

With ever-densifying cities, smaller yards, and the increased need for access to public greenspace, pocket parks have become all the hum and buzz within planning circles. So much of a buzz they’ve created that the corporate world now wants a piece of the proverbial pie/action. Planters (of Planters Peanuts) has recentely announced plans to transform small parcels in some of America’s densest cities (SF, NYC, New Orleans) into pocket parks called Planters Groves. To construct and maintain these greenspaces, the company will be partnering up with Corps Network, an organization that involves of 30,000 young people in cities across the country in service, training, and education. Placed within each park will be a Mr. Peanut statue sitting on a peanut bench. And a biodiesel-fueled “nutmobile” will occasionally make its way into each park in an effort to educate citizens about sustainability and transportation.

While we applaud the efforts of companies to latch on to the sustainability trend and to encourage the creation of greenspace in cities that need it, we cannot help but wonder once again why we need companies to foot the bill in the first place. We have written numerous times about crumbling public infrastructure, and other parks set to be privatized, and the fact that Americans are historically paying so little in taxes, and corporations even less. Given these realities, it seems that so many of us have bought into an alternate reality, in which it is presented as inevitable that cities and municipalities shall have no money, and that everything needs to be privatized or else we shall face certain doom. This is reality-warping kool-aid that simply should not be drunk.

Anatomy of an equitable green roof

Not only does this video zippily deconstruct the physical layers behind a green roof (for enquiring minds), it displays yet another work of entrepreneurial, equitable, and environmentally sustainable ingenuity compliments of Majora Carter and her organization, the Majora Carter Group. Carter’s work is driven both by a recognition that environmental pollution in our cities is not distributed evenly or equitably, and by a desire to move the sustainability movement and its benefits beyond the most monied urban and suburban residents and their environs.