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Activating Ecosystems in Cities

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2012 All Rights Reserved

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Nature has the answers.

What are the questions?

- Howard Odum

BioCities is based on the idea that when people and nature form mutual alliances, communities prosper and endure. We strive to build innovative linkages between humans and regenerative ecosystems to create livable, resilient cities. We believe such systems should be biologically rich and technologically simple.

We do two things: educate and build. Our Transforming Cities Project brings together leaders and emerging voices to present, discuss and debate ideas, leading to real action. Through our built projects we partner with nature to transform urban environments and gain a deeper understanding of how urban ecosystems and human populations can help each other thrive.

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In Brief:

The MFA Products of Design department played host to BioCities’ second event in its Transforming Cities Project: "Buildings and Agriculture: Soil, Hydroponic or Aeroponic?" on January 16. The standing-room-only crowd listened to experts present and discuss the merits of three different cultivation techniques for growing food in and on buildings. Following a welcome from Tom Jost, Senior Urban Strategist from Parsons Brinckerhoff and MFA POD Chair Allan Chochinov, student Richard Clarkson spoke about the culture of food and agriculture.

Kathleen Bakewell, BioCities’ Executive Director, introduced the evening as an opportunity to examine three forms of building-integrated agriculture and their potential for creating sitopian cities. The speakers, Marc Oshima of AeroFarms, Laurie Schoeman of Intervention: Green and Alec Baxt of FarmingUp, respectively, presented and discussed aeroponics, hydroponics, and soil-based forms of food production. Together they debated and compared systems, bringing to light the numerous distinctions in growing techniques, economic structures, energy demands, benefits and synergies for the community and environment, and prospects for expansion. In response to the presentations, the audience participated in a lively exchange of questions and ideas with the panelists. The evening concluded with a warm invitation by faculty member Claire Hartten to engage in a reception centered upon food made from local seasonal foods and served on Richard Clarkson's experimental “Dip_table.”

Opening Remarks: Allan Chochinov (c),

Tom Jost (l), Kathleen Bakewell (r)

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