December 9, 2016

This city dump doubles as a park

Get inspired by these three stories on innovation and ingenuity in America

Illustration of the new North Transfer Station in Seattle courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities

Nicest dump in town: Residents in the Wallingford neighborhood in north central Seattle had a hand in creating a new city dump in their community. And it shows, because the city’s North Transfer Station, which opened Nov. 28, includes several public facilities and a city park. The $108 million project was built with input from the Wallingford Community Council and, according to KUOW, the group has a contract with Seattle Public Utilities that stipulates the WCC would have approval over any changes to the project. The site, which accepts garbage and recyclables, includes a green roof and solar panels, as well as a playground, basketball court, outdoor exercise equipment, and public artwork. The Seattle Times says, “It’s still a dump—just not very dumpy.”

The new neighborhood: On Nov. 30, The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative launched what organizers call, “America’s first sustainable urban agrihood” in north central Detroit. The mixed-use property includes a two-acre urban garden that generates enough fruits and vegetables to provide free produce to nearby churches, food pantries, and nearly 2,000 households in its north central Detroit neighborhood. With partners BASF, Sustainable Brands, and General Motors, the initiative is also reclaiming an abandoned three-story building that will become a community center. According a press release from the nonprofit organization, the new community center will offer educational programs, provide event and meeting space, and it will house two commercial kitchens that will service a cafe and allow for future production and packaging of goods.

Health hackathon: A new partnership in Baltimore is hoping to tackle some of the city’s most pressing public health needs. The Baltimore City Health Department and leaders in the tech community are working together to create tools that will address local health problems like chronic disease and opioid addiction. The TECHealth program pairs members of Baltimore’s technology and design community with public health officials to work on specific projects. Launching in October, the initiative has now identified seven areas of focus, from treating asthma to community outreach. Each team will work on their ideas in December, and in January, they will be eligible for grants from the city. Health Department CIO Mike Fried told Baltimore that the goal is to create programs that could be implemented across the country: “As these teams go forward and as they work on solutions to these problems, our hope is they find things that can be marketed to other jurisdictions and can be rolled out nationwide.”

Margaret Myers

, The Renewal Project

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.