Posts Tagged ‘Ypsilanti’

To Help Beat Heat Wave, Says Intern, Spruce Up Metro Detroit Streets with Shade Trees

July 21, 2011

Michigan is sweating through its fifth-warmest July in a century. Detroit and other local cities have designated libraries and other public facilities as “cooling centers” where residents can take refuge from temperatures in the mid-90s. Unfortunately, the long-term forecast offers little hope of a respite. Scientists predict that global warming could triple the number of  hot days in Detroit, posing a particular threat to the city’s elderly residents.

UniverCities Connection intern Stephanie Chueh has been researching one climate change mitigation strategy that promises relief to the sweltering streets: shade trees.

Two blocks of the same Ypsilanti street, with trees (L) and without (R).

Trees inhale some carbon dioxide through their leaves, but that‘s not their only climate benefit. By sheltering adjacent buildings from the sun, they can cut down on the use of air conditioning and reduce electricity consumption. In that sense, they serve as both a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy, not only curbing climate change but lightening the global warming burden that we will have to bear. “I love it when things are multifunctional!” Stephanie says.

According to her research, the average street tree costs the famously leafy City of Ann Arbor something like $250, plus $30 annually in maintenance. The City calculates the estimated yearly energy savings per tree at $47.55. That’s a darn good deal, especially considering the benefits of trees for the human environment. A green canopy makes for more comfort, natural beauty, and higher real estate values, too, suggesting why new tree plantings are so often a part of streetscape improvement plans in cities’ business districts.

Turning over a new leaf: added street trees figure prominently in Ypsilanti's plan to revamp Cross Street. (City of Ypsilanti)

Ideally, Stephanie indicates, tree planting would be just one element in a suite of climate strategies applied to city streets. “A bunch of projects can work together and serve different purposes,” she says. “For example, just building more sidewalks by themselves may not reduce a ton of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions, but coupled with LED streetlights that light the way and trees to shade pedestrians, we can begin to take more cars off the road and build more vibrant, livable communities.” After all, what’s a cool city if not a comfortable place to chill?

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Ypsilanti Rising: Jordan Garfinkle Finds Local Flavor at Farmers Market

June 30, 2011

UniverCities Connection intern Jordan Garfinkle believes that southeast Michigan’s communities have “enormous potential,” potential that we can fulfill by recognizing that “economic and environmental issues are often inextricable.” Studying at the UM School of Natural Resources & Environment, he didn’t find many chances to get away from campus. This summer, researching energy policy at the Ypsilanti office of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Jordan has found that interest in a green economy exists well beyond the books.

No "loafing" for this intern.

Last week, Jordan spotted the crate brought to work by Richard “Murph” Murphy, transportation programs director at the Suburbs Alliance, and realized there might be a farmers market in the vicinity. Murph confirmed that he had just picked up some produce from the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market. Like any good student of sustainable food systems, Jordan decided to follow his example and walk over to Ferris Street.

The market operates 2-6 pm each Wednesday.

While not as large as its Ann Arbor counterpart, the Ypsilanti market excels in other ways. Garlic farmers Dick and Diana Dyer summed up the friendly, relaxed atmosphere, calling it “the most fun farmers market that we go to.” And who wouldn’t have fun presiding over 14 different varieties of garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes from Dyer Family Farms.

Jordan returned to the office with bread made from 100% Michigan ingredients and baked at the nearby Ypsilanti Food Co-op across the river. “Good things come in small packages,” he observed. Like Jordan, lots of Michigan’s young people are looking to live simply and sustainably, enriching their communities and their environment through what University of Michigan professor Thomas Princen calls the “logic of sufficiency.” UniverCities Connection is helping them find that older cities like Ypsilanti, once a hub for aircraft and auto manufacturing, offer a bountiful harvest of opportunities to redefine their American dreams.