Across the Charlotte region, parks have been full and streets largely empty for the past several weeks, as people try to get out of their houses for fresh air and exercise while staying home from work and school. Other cities have been opening vast stretches of their streets to walkers, joggers, bicyclists and others seeking outdoor space while following social distance guidelines. The logic is simple: Auto traffic has plunged to levels no one could imagine two months ago, while millions of people need more places to be outside than often-inadequate parks.
It’s all around us, but we usually can’t smell or see air pollution. A major art piece and a series of events coming to Charlotte this spring could help change that.
Charlotte has a reputation as a car city, but many of its leaders badly want to promote more biking, walking and transit use. That’s one reason an intriguing idea kept surfacing at this week’s City Council Transportation & Planning Committee meeting: Why not take all the cars off a major street in uptown or South End, creating a pedestrian-only space?
After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water? It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert.
The world uses millions of tons of phosphorus per year in fertilizer, and almost all of that is mined. But Charlotte Water plans to start extracting the mineral from a new source: What you put down the drain.
Eight years ago, Charlotte set a goal for itself: 50 percent tree canopy coverage across the city by 2050. But because of rapid development and an aging tree population, the city likely won’t reach that goal, officials said last week. Instead, they’re refocusing on smaller, neighborhood-level targets and other “fifty-themed” tree promotion efforts.
Mecklenburg County is poised to substantially increase funding for its park system, after years of stagnating budgets and staff cuts following the 2008 recession. It could help the county improve its ranking of dead last among major U.S. cities for parks and open space.
When I was a novice birder, attending bird walks in New York’s Central Park, I asked the leader which field guide I should buy. Without missing a beat, and without a hint of sarcasm, he replied, “All of them.” While I’ve come to appreciate his wisdom, there’s also something to be said for having a basic, indispensable guide you can turn to again and again.
As cities continue to grow and thrive, with downtowns reviving and old neighborhoods being redeveloped, is their future still really in the suburbs? That's what one advocate said this week at a real estate forum, provoking debate about growth, transit and sprawl.
For vegetable gardeners in the Piedmont, 2018 was a challenging year. The weather whipsawed between mundane and extreme.
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