Third Graders, Green Roofs, and the New York City Council

Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor

I spent part of my day yesterday preparing to give a 30-minute talk about what I do in my career in green roofs…to a classroom of 3rd-graders. Will any of these students become green roof professionals I wonder? Hey, if I’ve correctly read the Dr. Suess classic, “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” maybe some of them will! But that isn’t the point of my presentation. The point is for them to see that the same things they’re already learning in 3rd grade – science, math, and art – also apply to green roofs, and for them to maybe think about plants and soils and roofs and water in different ways than they have before. The next time they see a planting bed – whether it’s on a roof, on a wall, or at grade – I want them to think, “hey I know what’s happening there!”

I’m happy to say that this change in my perspective is refreshing! It has forced me to think about what might be interesting about green roofs to an 8-year-old, and to ask myself the question, “so what IS it that I would want people completely outside of my daily orbit of manufacturers, estimators, suppliers, GCs, landscape architects, architects and installers, to think about green roofs?” Most building owners – the people who write the big cheques that ultimately buy what I sell – aren’t in my daily orbit, and because green roofs aren’t typically in their daily orbit, their knowledge of green roofs is probably roughly the same as the 3rd-graders I’ll be speaking to next week.

Thinking this way leads me out of my narrow world of green roof sales, and into the wider world. It reminds me that this is the role Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) uniquely fills: speaking the value of green roofs in the language of non-green roof people – the people who buy green roofs, and who create the policies and contexts for those roofs to be bought!

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