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Posts Tagged ‘Monica Almeida’

When a do-gooder from the nonprofit Kounkuey Design Initiative told poor farmworkers at a California trailer park she wanted to work with them to build a place to relax and play, they didn’t think much would come of it.

Patricia Leigh Brown writes at the NY Times why the community is happy to have been proved wrong.

“When Chelina Odbert, the 36-year-old co-founder of the nonprofit Kounkuey Design Initiative, based in Los Angeles, showed up two years ago and asked residents to propose ideas for a park that they might design and build collaboratively, most assumed she was yet another do-gooder bearing ‘muchas promesas’ that would come to naught.

“And yet, after more than a year of drawing, debating, hauling rocks and waiting out bureaucratic delays, the residents had a fiesta recently to celebrate the opening of the park, a public space built out of railroad ties and other simple materials. It has a playground, a community garden, an outdoor stage and a shade structure where neighbors can gather and gossip even on 110-plus-degree days.

“The park, which doubles as a zócalo, or traditional town square, exemplifies a new phase for both Kounkuey (KDI for short) and the field of public-interest design, which tries to put design tools into the hands of neighbors who can create local change. …

“Alberto Arredondo, 51, lives across from the garden and has become its keeper. … Before, he said, he would come home after a day in the fields picking grapes and collapse on the sofa. The park, he added, has ‘de-stressed the women.’

“His theory was borne out by Rosa Prado, whose commitment to the park never wavered. ‘It helps with depression,’ she said. ‘You go out your door, and you see a lady in the park and sit next to her.’ She added, ‘Then a few minutes later, you forget what you’re worried about.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Residents of all ages turn out for the opening of a new public space, by the Kounkuey Design Initiative, in St. Anthony’s Trailer Park, home to farmworkers east of Palm Springs, Calif. 

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It was good to have a little lawn when Suzanne and John were kids, but we gave up the hassle after they grew up. In place of a lawn we have a lovely ground cover called vinca. In spring the yard is entirely purple.

On the East Coast as fall approaches, many homeowners are thinking about taking advantage of cooler weather to rev up their lawns. But in the Southwest there’s a concerted effort to move away from the green carpet.

Ian Lovett writes at the NY Times that since 2009, Los Angeles “has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns and plant less thirsty landscaping.

“At least the lawns are still legal [there]. Grass front yards are banned at new developments in Las Vegas, where even the grass medians on the Strip have been replaced with synthetic turf.

“In Austin, Tex., lawns are allowed; watering them, however, is not — at least not before sunset. Police units cruise through middle-class neighborhoods hunting for sprinklers running in daylight and issuing $475 fines to their owners.”

In Las Vegas “in the last decade, 9.2 billion gallons of water have been saved through turf removal, and water use in Southern Nevada has been cut by a third, even as the population has continued to grow. …

“The idea that extensive grass lawns are wasteful has now taken hold with many people in this region, especially the young and environmentally conscious.

“And municipalities, hoping [the] savings can be expanded, have tried to entice more residents to dig up their lawns by offering more money. Last month, Los Angeles raised its rebate to $2 from $1.50 a square foot of grass removed. Long Beach now offers $3 a square foot.” Read more here.

Photos: Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Top, Flowering artichoke plants in Mitch and Leslie Aiken’s drought-tolerant yard in Pasadena, Calif. Below, the couple survey the effect of desert plantings.

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