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depave movement: from parking lots to paradise

Depave, a nonprofit group determined to reverse much of an asphalt-covered America.

The Portland, Oregon-based group has been tearing up parking lots and other expanses of asphalt and turning them into productive greenspace.

Beginning the summer of 2008, for their first project, Depave’s organizers recruited 147 volunteers to rip up a roughly 2,500-square-foot parking lot next to the Waypost Café in north Portland, eventually turning it into the Fargo Forest Garden. Since then, the group has pulled up unnecessary patches of asphalt all over the city. In its 20 projects so far, Depave has worked with schools, businesses, and even private residents to create new gardens, parks, landscaped yards, and at least one pumpkin patch.

The group says it has pulled up more than 94,000 square feet of asphalt so far, and counting. For fans of the idea in other cities, the Depave website has resources explaining how to get a project funded and approved by the city, and suggestions for how to manage the space post-depaving.

Runoff that flows along pavement and into storm drains, and eventually waterways, can carry with it oil, antifreeze, and other pollutants. Depaving allows more rainwater to seep into the earth instead. It also helps mitigate the urban heat effect and can provide space for growing healthy food.

 

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