The City College of New York

Landscape Architecture Journal Vol. 4 Spring 2015 'WASTE STREAM' 

 

THE UTILITY OF RAIN GARDENS : SAMUEL ROBINSON

          Beneath developed cities like New York, culturally acceptable systems of waste management are poorly maintained.  When streams of various urban waste sources are managed through a communal and creative process, a new and improved system has space to flourish.  Once a place for industrial exchange in the twentieth century, it is the coastline - the space between land and water - that has the greatest potential for an exchange of information and ideas.  Maintaining this fragile boundary through the building of rain gardens throughout the city is vital for a continual symbiosis between citizen and the landscape.  

There are three separate but interrelated waste streams in New York City, defined by their biological, materials and historical makeup.  Biological human waste is a necessary reality of any urban center, discharged every time we flush the toilet.  Material waste is the roadside disposal of chemical matter that introduces a potential pollutant into the waste stream.  Historical waste is the continued presence of our traditional customary ways of dealing with waste itself, supporting a culturally acceptable daily contribution to the waste stream.  These three streams flow at different paces into bodies of water around the city, typically controlled by variables outside of the control of ordinary residents.  What resident can control, however, is the quality and maintenance of their private and public green spaces.