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Love the Earth: Plant a Roof!

May 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

About a month ago my husband, Aramis, alerted me to a competition from The Green  on the Sundance Channel called “What’s the Big Idea?” Contest.   The Sundance Channel and Lexus Hybrid Living were encouraging either a video or photo essay no longer than 60 seconds which illustrated how you work green, play green, eat green and live green, making our planet a cleaner, greener place.   And what’s the grand prize?   A private green consultation with BIG IDEAS FOR A SMALL PLANET experts, CURRENT ENERGY and $10,000 to help you live a greener life!

So you can imagine what my Big Idea was – greenroofs, of course!   I’m lucky that our oldest son Joey offered to help and that I have access to one of my own designs here in Alpharetta, GA,  The Greenroof Pavilion of Rock Mill Park.   The deadline for submissions was midnight on May 20, 2008, but Joey and his wife were out of the country in April, returning just after the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference in Baltimore.   So we had to wait.   I had some editorial catching up to do and trips planned for work and play the first half of May, but since I’m no stranger to tight deadlines anyway, and even though I always underestimate each project by at least half of the time I really need, we hurriedly decided to give it a go and off we went to film the day before it was due.

We had just planted this roof on October 25 of last year, and about 5 weeks ago went up to check on its progress, weed, and since it is a test greenroof, take notes on which species were faring well and those which were not.   It looked great; the grasses in the “Forest” and “Upland Meadow” zones were swaying in the wind, the blue phlox in “Big Creek” and the white phlox in the “Meadow” were in flower, and the chives were blooming in the “Wetlands.”

Korinne going up on May 19, 2008I figured that if I was going to be up on the greenroof again, I would bring up some additional plants and more river rock used as design accents, too.   The City of Alpharetta graciously provided usage of their bucket truck once again, and up we went individually, buckled up tightly in our safety harness to plant and film:   Caroline Menetre, our intern, Joey, his wife Korinne – at left – and me.   I have to give special thanks, of course, to the City of Alpharetta and particularly Terry Porter, the Environmental Education Coordinator, who has always gone up with me before and has been a champion of this project for years – but this time she just watched on the sidelines with a broken wrist!

Now with a borrowed camera and  our rushed filming and editing schedule, I did not realistically believe we had much of a shot to win this thing, but it was a fun learning process, at least for me.   We went back the next day to take video on the ground, in front of the Greenroof Pavilion and next to the Greenroof Demonstration Model.   Lessons learned?   It’s amazing how much film you need to compile a minute’s worth of work, and it’s not so funny to be fumbling your lines over and over again!   Wind is awesome for movement but not so good for sound.   Lighting is essential, and some cue cards would have been a thing of beauty!

Of all of the submissions, 25 semi-finalists  were just  chosen the week of May 26, and now the videos/photo essays  are open for voting from the general public to determine the five finalists; then the Grand Prize Winner will be selected by a panel of judges from the Sundance Channel’s GREEN Advisory Board.   The winner will be announced on or about July 7, 2008.

Well, I’m thrilled to say we were chosen as a semi-finalist!   So here’s my entry entitled: Love the Earth: Plant a Roof!   Is it worthy of an Academy Award?   No way!   Is it worthy of promoting greenroofs as The Big Idea for the Next Big Thing?   You bet!   Please vote for us by June 24, 2008 – what great exposure for our greenroof community, don’t you agree?

You must be a Sundance Channel member to vote!   Please login or register here.

~ Linda

Welcome to the Sky Gardens Blog!

May 25, 2008 at 11:12 pm

In celebration of greening the Earth through organic architecture, Greenroofs.com founder and publisher/editor Linda Velazquez enters the blogosphere and kicks off Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue, a blog about greenroofs, the living roofs community, and awesome sustainable design in general.

Cool green?”  Cool green architecture, cool green people, cool green environments, etc.
Lofty blue?”  As in sky high spaces, places, ideals, and ideas ~ you get the picture.

Credit: iStock                                                     Credit: WebShots: wonderland

Hello Greenroof World,

Part informal commentary, discovery, reflection, imagination, and – if we’re lucky – sometimes even inspiration, with the Sky Gardens Blog we’ll be talking about the experiential nature of space, eco-aesthetics, eco-style and eco-responsibility, or maybe just share a rant or two about something going on in the greenroof world.   And how about eco-responsibility in terms of spiritual sustainability?   True spirituality is about respect.   Here’s a new favorite quote of mine:

“If we unbalance Nature, human kind will suffer. Furthermore, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy as, if not healthier than we found it.” -His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Beliefnet Buddhist Wisdom, 2008, From “The Pocket Dalai Lama,” edited by Mary Craig, 2002)

It’s our individual social responsibility to pursue an environmentally friendly and energy-conscious ecology, and healthy environmental design is one way for all of us to collectively tread lighter on the shared resources that is our Earth.   And greenroofs, sky gardens, and green walls are fast becoming green staples of chic sustainability in mainstream architecture and high performance building.

A little background history: The first incarnation of Greenroofs.com  inaugurated in 1999, the current format in May 2003, and my Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture column promptly followed a month later in June 2003.   The rigor and research of first a monthly column, then a bi-monthly quickly turned into the “occassional” column for me!   We welcomed our first contributing editor, Ed Snodgrass (AKA “Ask Ed”) in August 2004 and over the years have added seven more contributing editors, all of whom now write their own occassional columns as time permits.   And so the lure of the Sky Gardens Blog was conceived.

Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue comes on the heels of the enormous interest in greenroofs and our contributors, who are some of the industry’s leading professionals in their respective fields – and who can now blog away without the grind of a full  article (but still look for their in-depth columns, too)!   Not to mention it allows us a quicker and  more interactive opportunity for sharing fascinating roofscapes, thought provoking dialogue, and just engaging in good old social networking.

We’ll explore vibrant old & new projects through our real and virtual travels across the globe – and we are a globetrotting bunch!     We’ll also throw in all the cool new innovative stuff we stumble upon everyday from news media, our own practices & businesses, and readers like you.     Look for posts about and interviews with people near and far – those who design inviting spaces with living architecture, contribute important research, develop new technologies, and influence the marketplace – plus those green thinkers or trendsetters who open new doors in one way or another.

Learn more about all of us on the Blog Team here.   To wrap up my inaugural Sky Gardens Blog post, our ultimate goal is just like Greenroofs.com’s overall mission, but with a personal twist: to share news, project info, and experiences that are relevant and fun, while continuing to promote the earth friendly technology of organic greenroof architecture!

You can always visit Forums to talk amongst yourselves, and you’re now invited to celebrate Earth with us here for regular, and sometimes irregular, commentary and musings on the poetry that is our world of green and blue.   As always, we welcome your ideas and comments and the infinite  promise of stoking two-way dialogue.   Enjoy!

Happy Greening & Safe Travels ~

Linda S. Velazquez
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Editor
Sky Gardens Design Principal