Student Ambassador, First Stop Portland
Greetings from Rosario, Argentina!
|Reminders to imagine, learn and care for your health hang from blossoming trees on Rosario's "waterfront park" on the banks of Río Paraná during Art Week 2015.|
|Whether on the sides of government trucks, at the site of a street repair or on the vest of a volunteer coordinator, "Rosario in Action" can be seen everywhere, as city programs gain momentum.|
I recently attended an all-day tour of city-sponsored sustainability initiatives called“Turista en mi Ciudad” (Tourist in my City), which was sponsored by Hogares Verde, the environmental branch of Rosario’s city government. It offered civil engineers, students, every-day Rosarians the opportunity to see first-hand how the city’s programs are working to keep Rosario sustainable and thriving amidst increased growth. The program began in 2012 and is impressive in both its level of organization and accessibility. Hogares Verde promotes social and environmental values for responsible citizenship through the framework of sustainable development. The tours it provides are offered completely free of charge to the public on a monthly basis. They include transportation on a private bus, lunch and mementos provided by the different projects and spaces visited.
|Rosario's composting facility, where inorganic and organic materials are separated and processed.|
|Crash course in Bolivian handicrafts, led by local activist.|
After boarding the bus we headed about 30 minutes outside of the city-center to Barrio Bella Vista and the city’s composting center, Planta de Compostaje. There, at the outskirts of town, our guide, Daiana Pellegatti, demonstrated the process by which refuse and recyclable materials are gathered and separated as part of the city’s nascent composting plan. Like many South American metropolis’ (and definitely some within our own country), Rosario faces the challenges of striving towards sustainability within a culture that places little importance on waste reduction.
In an effort to combat cultural norms and pave the way for citizen involvement, the City of Rosario created the facility to generate compost to be used in city parks and government-sponsored organic gardens and farms. At the same time the program seeks to provide in-home composting units made of recycled materials for Rosarian households, and educational opportunities to “spread” the composting idea, as it were.
|Office water jugs are re-purposed as colorful household composting receptacles distributed by Rosario's composting education program.|
|Tour participants learn about Rosario's plan to bring composting to households across the city.|
|Organic material undergoes an aerobic process as it turns into compost over time.|
|Arriving at the expansive city park and protected wildlife area.|
|Site director René Marconi explains the park's history and purpose in a verdant setting.|
|An artificial lake provides a protected habitat for native birds and turtles.|
|A guide from Rosario's Urgan Agriculture program explains the origins and purpose of El Huerterito de Newbery while one of its founding members prepares our brick-oven pizza.|
|Key-hole gardens and recycled bottles to be used for container gardening are just a few of the permaculture elements employed by entrepreneur graduates of Rosario's economic solidarity program.|
|Food made from the farm's produce is distributed from the operations headquarters of the farm.|
All in all Rosario’s “Tourist in my City” excursion was one of the most diverse and illuminating experiences I’ve had during my time here. Throughout the day I was struck by how much I was learning - and how all of it was free! I thought about how our own city might be able to increase accessibility to all of its pioneering projects and examples of smart-growth design by following the examples of Rosario and First Stop Portland: engaging potential innovators through education.