Neglected Concrete in Your Neighborhood? Why Not Depave It?


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When you walk around your neighborhood, you’ll likely get glimpses of busted-up concrete that could use a little love. It could be a small, abandoned parking lot or modest patch at the end of the block.

You may overlook these spaces, or consider them a minor blemish. However, as Strong Towns president and founder Chuck Marohn illustrated in his Neighborhoods First Report, you could translate these observations into neighborhood-boosting action.

The question, however: What opportunity can strong citizens find in neglected concrete? The answer is logical and—once you discover its benefits—will transform how you react to neglected concrete.

Depaving.

Yes, you read that right: grabbing household tools such as shovels and crowbars and—with permission from the owner—depaving the concrete. And the best part: replace the neglected concrete with a more productive use, including parklets, gardens, or whatever your neighborhood may need.

Enter Depave Paradise, a program created by the Green Communities Canada—inspired by the original Depave organization in Portland, Oregon—that helps communities across Canada turn neglected concrete into uses that boost both the environment and the local economy.

When you depave, as Depave Paradise explains on its website, you can replace the concrete with native plants, trees and shrubs—replenishing groundwater while beautifying your neighborhood.

Depaving on the neighborhood level excites us, of course. But zoom out a bit and consider all the opportunities to depave the city. Think about all of the useless, empty parking lots that could have a more productive use; think about all the unused, crumbling roads.

In this episode, we have Alix Taylor on the podcast: Manager of Water Programs at Green Communities Canada. You’ll learn how to depave neglected concrete in your own neighborhood, including how to get your neighbors involved in the process, how to pitch the idea to city leaders, and how to find sites in your neighborhood optimal for depaving.