Depave is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon that promotes the removal of unnecessary pavement from urban areas to create community green spaces and mitigate stormwater runoff. Through community partnerships and volunteer engagement, Depave strives to overcome the social and environmental impacts of pavement with the use of action-oriented educational events, community stewardship, and advocacy to reconnect people with nature and inspire others.
The problem is concrete. Paved surfaces contribute to stormwater pollution, whereby rainwater carries toxic urban pollutants to local streams and rivers, greatly degrading water quality and riparian habitats. Pavement also disconnects us from our natural world. Dark impervious surfaces greatly contribute to the heat island effect which can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat related illness and mortality, and water quality (EPA).
The solution is clear. The removal of impervious pavements will reduce stormwater pollution and increase the amount of land available for habitat restoration, urban farming, trees, native vegetation, and beauty, thus providing us with greater connections to the natural world.
Depave works with local landowners such as community churches, public and private schools, and business owners to remove impervious surfaces and create community green spaces. Once sites are chosen, Depave begins writing grants and finding funds for these projects in order to greatly reduce or even eliminate the cost to the landowner. The depaving is done through a community event where volunteers dedicate a summer Saturday to physically remove asphalt using pry bars, crow bars and wheel barrows. This physical work allows community members to truly take ownership of their neighborhoods. Post depaving plans may include the construction of a new community garden, raingardens, bioswales, and native plant learning gardens.
Meet Eric Rosewall from Depave
Eric is a native of West Michigan and a graduate of the University of Oregon’s Landscape Architecture program. His professional background includes client management, horticulture, park & trail planning, as well as ongoing greenspace advocacy & media.