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In part two of our four part Sustainability Series, we look at how a competition winner is tackling the problem of vacant lots.

Experts say St. Louis City could have as many as 20,000 vacant lots. Washington University's Sustainable Land Lab Competition put out the call for teams to come up with unique ways to combat the problem.

Out of the nearly 50 teams that submitted plans to the competition four winners were chosen. The winning groups got $5,000 dollars of seed money to start their projects and a two-year lease on a vacant lot. The Sunflower+ Project was one of the winners and they have a unique idea on how to beautify vacant lots and improve the environment.

"We're planting a field of sunflowers," says Project Lead and Washington University lecturer Donald Koster. He tells KTRS News the sunflower is known as a "hyper-accumulator"--a group of plants that take contaminants out of the soil. Koster says sunflowers have been used to clean up heavy damaged land, "Most notably for me in my research was the use of them in Chernobyl and Fukishima, following the tsunami, to clean up radioactive isotopes."

There is no guarantee on how the sunflowers will perform, but experimentation is at the heart of the land lab competition. The sunflowers are already a foot tall and you can stop by the field at the corner of Warren and 14th Street in North St. Louis.

Tomorrow, we look at a competition that gives city residents the chance to win money to improve their neighborhood.

 

Part one of the series can be found here.

Published in Local News

During his reelection campaign, Mayor Slay unveiled the first Sustainability Plan for St. Louis. He reduced the 260-page plan to a more manageable 29-point agenda. Many questions remain: What is sustainability? How can the city become more sustainable? How can the public participate? 

"Ultimately, it's making St. Louis cleaner, healthier, more vibrant, more fun and safer." That is how Mayor Francis Slay defines sustainability.

The Mayor is taking the lead on the effort, but creating a sustainable city requires a team effort. Slay brought in Catherine Werner to captain the team.

She serves as the city's first ever Sustainability Director. She tells me sustainability goes beyond just thinking 'green'. "We're were talking about not just the environmental aspects but also from the social and economic realms", says Werner. 

The next step in promoting the plan was to take on strategic partners in the region. The city turned to Washington University and their sustainability director Phil Valko, "We are working to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability to future generations to meet their needs at the same quality of life or better", says Valko.

So what is sustainability? It's a multifaceted approach to make the city of St Louis and the region at large a better place to live now and down the road.

On Wednesday we will look at how teams are coming together to solve the problem in any urban area--what to do with vacant lots.

 

Part two of the series can be found here.

Published in Local News

During his reelection campaign, Mayor Slay unveiled the first Sustainability Plan for St. Louis. The Mayor also presented a 29-point agenda to implement the plan.

Many questions remain: What is sustainability? How can the city become more sustainable? How can the public help?

KTRS' Colin Jeffery spoke to city officials about those concerns and will present their answers during a week-long series.

"Ultimately, it's making St. Louis cleaner, healthier, more vibrant, more fun and safer." That is how Mayor Francis Slay defines sustainability.

The Mayor is taking the lead on the effort, but creating a sustainable city requires a team effort. He brought in Catherine Werner to captain the effort. She serves as the city's first ever Sustainability Director. She tells me sustainability goes beyond just thinking 'green'. "We're were talking about not just the environmental aspects but also from the social and economic realms", says Werner. 

The next step in promoting the plan was to take on strategic partners in the private sector. That is when the city turned to Washington University and their sustainability director Phil Valko, "We are working to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability to future generations to meet their needs at the same quality of life or better"

So what is sustainability? It's a multifaceted approach to make the city of St Louis and the region at large a better place to live now and down the road.

On Wednesday we will look at how teams are coming together to solve the problem in any urban area--what to do with vacant lots.

 

 

Published in Local News

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