miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

Talking point: Big cities

This week's talking point is big cities. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

Which criteria are important to define a great city? Choose from the list below. If you can think of any other ideas, add them to the list.
having an international airport
being a world-famous landmark or tourist attraction
being the country's financial centre
being the seat of the government
being a centre for arts and culture
having a successful sports team
having an efficient public transport system
having a top university
having a multicultural population
Think about the most important city in your country. According to the criteria you chose above, would you define it as a great city? Why (not)?
Describe a city you know for your group to guess.
What do you think cities of the future will be like? You can touch on the following:
- how different from today's cities?
- sustainability
- type and location of buildings and homes
- transport
- population distribution

To illustrate the point you can watch this National Geographic video on New York City, where Brooklyn Grange farms more than two and a half acres of rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens, and then sells what it produces to New Yorkers.

So many cities face the same challenge as aging infrastructure and rooftop farming is a terrific way of making use of these industrial buildings. And then of course they really have such a tremendous environmental benefit to the ecosystem. At the small scale which is practised in cities around the world, you know, it’s a drop bucket but if we can gain some momentum we can really create a tidal shift.
I grew up in Wisconsin but I didn’t realize my passion until I was out in New York City. And then looking around the city and seeing thousands of open-flat roofs with full sun on them with absolutely no utilization. It was a great opportunity to just dive into it and to pioneer a movement.
We have two and a half acres of rooftop farm space in Brooklyn and Queens. Our core business is vegetables but we’ve also started New York City’s first urban apiary. We also have twenty-two chickens. They are not a considerable revenue stream for us but they’re valuable in terms of completing the circle of life upon the farm. We have well over a million pounds of soil on the roof.
This roof took several weeks of pumping up the soil with a blower truck. Essentially a hopper with a pressurized tube pushes the soil up. It’s a compost from a mushroom production in Pennsylvania wanted with a mixture of several different types of stone that are very porous so they weigh less than a typical rock, and then they can allow water to fill under the pores, they can also harbor microbial activity and they can also allow for proper drainage in relation to the soil, meaning that we don’t end up with one big swimming pool up on the roof if we get a lot of rain.
Our rooftop farms each manage about a million gallons of storm water per year. We also reduce urban heat island effect. We clean the air around us and decrease the amount of HVAC of the upper floors of the buildings beneath us. But probably the most unique benefit of our farm is to the community around us, so we have the opportunity to link New Yorkers back into the food production system. It’s something from which we have been so alienated.
Utilizing even all our total roofs would not even produce a significant fraction of the amount of food that New York City needs to eat. However, that definitely does not mean that something like this shouldn’t be happening.
I was born and raised here in New York City. I want to live in a healthier city, in a more beautiful city and a more delicious city.