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Posts Tagged ‘paris’

Photo: Aeromate
An urban farm flourishes on a rooftop in the heart of Paris.

I never can resist a story about urban rooftop gardens, which not only bring fresh produce to city dwellers but also make use of empty space and help reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

I have blogged about them a lot. There was the post about a rooftop garden in Montreal, here. Another about Higher Ground in South Boston, here. Suzanne and Erik’s former church in San Francisco, Glide Memorial, made its rooftop garden a community-building activity for Tenderloin residents. And this was an article about a Whole Foods that aimed to harvest 10,000 pounds of food a year from its rooftop in Lynnfield, Mass.

Today’s story comes from Paris.

Freelance blogger Aimee Lutkin writes at the World Economic Forum blog, “The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was elected in 2014 with the intention to improve the city’s green spaces as a part of her platform. …

“In 2016, her administration launched Parisculteurs, a campaign that is working to cover 247 acres of rooftops and walls in Paris with greenery by 2020.

“One third of that greenery will specifically be set aside for urban farming. To date, 74 organizations have signed a charter to work with the city on planning this enormous enterprise. The city has already approved 75 projects for development, which are estimated to produce more than 500 tons of vegetation.

“The deputy mayor of Paris, Penelope Komites, [told CNN] … ‘Citizens want new ways to get involved in the city’s invention and be the gardeners.’ …

” ‘Three years ago, people laughed at my plan. Today, citizens are producing [food] on roofs and in basements. We are also asked by numerous cities around the world to present the Parisian approach,’ she said.

“And they already have their success stories. … La Chambeaudie started shortly after Parisculteurs was announced in 2016, but now grows over 40 varieties of plants and herbs using a hydroponic system …

” ‘We’ve seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green,’ said Komites. ‘Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change.’

“And it also means jobs. According to Komites, Parisculteurs has created 120 full-time jobs.”

More at World Economic Forum blog, here.

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Both my kids are entrepreneurs. They got their start in business with a lemonade stand, as my grandson is doing in the photo.

His customers don’t know how lucky they are. Lemon peels in the trash may be protecting them from bubonic plague. Doubt me? Well, have you heard of anyone getting plague in an area of New England where lemonade is sold?

Well, there you go.

Consider a recent article by Tom Nealon in the Boston Globe.

He writes, “I’d like to tell a story of what lemonade was doing in Paris 349 summers ago. Lemons have been used for making drinks since before the Ancient Egyptians, are often used to detoxify, and to soothe a sore throat, but that year, the fate of Paris may have hinged on one of its lesser known properties.

“In 1668, the bubonic plague, dormant for a decade, returned to France and was threatening Paris. It had been reported in Normandy and Picardy, in Soissons, Amiens, and then, terrifyingly, just downstream of the capital along the Seine, in Rouen. … Panic-stricken Parisian public health officials imposed quarantines and embargoes in the hope of mitigating inevitable disaster — but the dreaded pestilence never struck.

“The plague that loomed over Paris was the midpoint of a 17th-century European epidemic that would go on to decimate Vienna (80,000 dead in 1679), Prague (80,000 dead in 1681) and Malta (11,000 dead in 1675). The body count in Amiens would end up topping 30,000, and almost no city in France was spared – except for Paris, which, miraculously, survived almost completely unscathed.”

By chance, lemonade was extremely popular that year.

“The limonene contained in lemons (and other citrus fruits) is a natural insecticide and insect repellent. The most effective part of the lemon is the limonene-rich peel. Indeed, after centuries of discovery of chemical insect repellents, the US Environmental Protection Agency still lists 15 insecticides in which limonene is the chief active ingredient, including both general bug sprays and products for pet flea and tick control. The French were piling lemon peels in the best possible place to disrupt the flea-rat-human-rat chain [that caused the spread of plague]: the trash. …

“Paris emerged alive — and refreshed.” More here.

I don’t really think we should count on lemonade to protect us from plague. But lemonade in a backpack isn’t a bad idea for a lemonade-stand spinoff. Time tested. You could take it to the beach.

Image: Staeske Rebers
Limonadiers were French vendors who sold lemonade from tanks on their backs.

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Photo: Biosphoto/Ardea/Caters News Agency
New energy generator may not be as attractive as a tree, but it’s also not as noisy as a standard wind turbine.

While you and I are just bopping along following our familiar routines, it’s reassuring to know that inventors are out there inventing.

Victoria Woollaston writes for the Daily Mail about one inventor who may help reduce global warming by making the use of wind turbines more widespread.

She says, “Monstrous, noisy conventional wind turbines may soon be a thing of the past thanks to tree-shaped wind turbines being installed in Paris. …

“French company ‘New Wind’ is installing the first at Place de la Concorde in Paris and is hoping to expand throughout the country and abroad. The 26ft (8 metre) trees are fitted with 63 aeroleaves. Each one uses tiny blades inside the ‘leaves’ and can generate electricity in wind speeds as low as 4.5mph (7km/h), and regardless of the wind’s direction. …

“The company’s founder, Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, hopes the trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets, and could eventually be installed in people’s backgardens and urban centres. …

“The trees are also silent, so sound pollution would not be an issue — a major improvement from past designs. The trees currently retail at £23,500 ($33,670).

” ‘The idea came to me in a square where I saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air,’ said Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, the founder of the Parisian start-up. …

“In the future Mr Michaud-Larivière hopes to develop a ‘perfect’ tree that has leaves with natural fibres, roots that could generate geothermal energy and ‘bark’ covered with photosensitive cells.”

Readers can probably guess what I love most about this invention: “The trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets.”  That sure fits with my mantra about small things adding up: “One and one and 50 make a million.” (Line adapted from Pete Seeger’s “One Man’s Hands.”)

More at the Daily Mail, here.

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Try to Praise the Mutilated World

By Adam Zagajewski
Translated By Clare Cavanagh

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

082015-flower-in-Greenway-for-DS

Adam Zagajewski, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” from Without End: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski.

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Even though she lived in Paris for several years, Melita is frequently startled by how kooky and fun the French can be.

Today she told me she just learned that they’ve been making a Riviera-type beach along the Seine for the past 12 summers.

I checked out Wikipedia: “Paris-Plages … is a plan run by the office of the mayor of Paris that creates temporary artificial beaches each summer along the river Seine in the centre of Paris, and, since 2007, along the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Every July and August, roadways on the banks of the Seine are blocked off and host various activities, including sandy beaches and palm trees.” More here.

The mayor’s website notes, “The summer transforms Paris. The cityscape dons greenery and the riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts. The Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) operation kicks off on or around 20 July and lasts four weeks.  …

“A Seine-side holiday. That, in a nutshell, is what Paris Plages is all about – complete with sandy beaches, deckchairs, ubiquitous ice cream sellers, and concerts for French and foreign guests. …

“The first beach [opened] in 2002. It spans three kilometres through historical Paris, and features open-air attractions (rollerblading, tai-chi, wall climbing, boules etc.). Refreshment areas, play areas and deckchairs are available for your time out unwinding by the river.” More.

Photo: Wikipedia.org. Many amusing pictures here, too.

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My friend Ronnie is a former broadcaster, a poet, and a food maven, who lived in France for years and later wrote a book called Eat Smart in France. Recently Ronnie interviewed the mystery writer Cara Black for a blog called My French Life. Black writes about Paris. Her latest novel is Murder in Pigalle.

Ronnie asks, “What drew you to this part of town?

Black: “There are two worlds in Pigalle. The world of the day with families and people who work in the shops, and the world of the night, where people work in the clubs. …

“I really like Pigalle. I discovered so much I didn’t know. [But] I get intrigued by different districts, their flavor and feeling. If I ever figure them out, I’ll probably stop writing about them.” More of the interview here, including a observations on the German occupation of Paris during WW II.

For a wonderful, unusual book with the occupation of Paris as a setting, I recommend Léon and Louise. It’s an odd love story taking place over many decades in France, written by a Swiss and translated into English. I haven’t read many books by Cara Black, but if you like novels that teach you something about a different part of the world in a rather fanciful way, I recommend Léon and Louise, by Alex Capus.

Photo of Ronnie Hess

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As I mentioned a few posts back, we went to the Metropolitan Museum when we were in New York. We saw a show from the dawn of photography, pictures of a lost Paris by Charles Marville. I greatly admired the angles, the light and shadow, the crispness of the images. Someday I want to try imitating his use of doorways and windows.

Karen Rosenberg writes about Marville in the NY Times, “In the massive construction site that was late-19th-century Paris, the photographer Charles Marville was just a few steps ahead of the wrecking ball. As an official city photographer working under Napoleon III and his controversial urban planner, Baron Haussmann, Marville recorded some 425 views of narrow, picturesque streets that were to be replaced by Haussmann’s grand boulevards.” More here.

The Met’s site adds, “By the end of the 1850s, Marville had established a reputation as an accomplished and versatile photographer. … Marville photographed the city’s oldest quarters, and especially the narrow, winding streets slated for demolition. Even as he recorded the disappearance of Old Paris, Marville turned his camera on the new city that had begun to emerge.

“Many of his photographs celebrate its glamour and comforts, while other views of the city’s desolate outskirts attest to the unsettling social and physical changes wrought by rapid modernization.” More at the website, here.

Catch the show by May 4.

Photo: Charles Marville
Rue de Constantine in 1866, one of a hundred photos of a lost Paris are now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
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