donderdag 28 juni 2018

Composting at the heart of the financial district of Amsterdam

Soil is precious. 

Fully circular at Circl: composting in a worm hotel & making healthy soil for the city.

Worms are the bankers of the soil, they turn green waste into gold: Black Gold. 

You would not expect it in a place like the Gustof Mahlerplein at the heart of the financial district of Amsterdam; a furniture in which composting worms live and turn green waste into rich vermicompost. But since last Thursday the restaurant of Circl is using a worm hotel to make compost out of their organic waste. In between huge concrete buildings and tiled squares there is now a small wooden furniture that is turning green waste into rich soil. And that is great, because we need a lot more healthy soil if we want to be able to keep growing food to feed the growing population of cities. 

Wormenhotel for Circl in construction at
my workshop.

Green spots in a concrete world.

Cities are growing. All over the world you see mega cities appearing and more than half of the human population is choosing to live in an unnatural environment: cities. Cities are great for the things they offer to us humans: fun, work, networks for careers, etc. But they are not offering a lot of nature. 

Academic studies are showing that it is important for human wellbeing to be close to nature. When humans are able to spend time in nature and in connection with green they feel better, are happier and more healthy. It seems very wise then to appreciate the green spots we have in the city and preserve them well. Why spend millions on old paintings and not do the same to keep some nature close at hand?

All to often nature is sacrificed in urban settings to allow for more real estate development and short term profits. But there is a growing awareness that we need to keep the green we have & invest in more green in the city. It is great that a bank like the ABN AMRO is investing in a circular economy & shows to value nature in such a way. By building their circular pavilion the bank is giving circular thinking a platform. Nature is our greatest teacher in circularity. Nothing in nature is considered to be waste. The waste of one organism is the food/ building material/ home/ etc, for the next. 

Living systems.

Opening of a worm hotel in a neighbourhood of Amstelveen.
Green makes a city livable. Green offers relaxation. Green offers a place to calm down. Green offers a place where to breath. But most of all green is alive! In between concrete and cement we humans need to be able to connect to that part of us that has allowed us to have a body: planet earth. 

Cities are complex systems and it takes a lot of thought to plan them and to plan the life within them. Nature has its own ways to plan and inviting nature in our cities could offer solutions for mental health and social cohesion problems some of the cities are suffering from. 

Even though some people like to think so, we are not apart from nature, but are a part of it. And so it would be wise to honor nature and keep her close at hand. 

A worm hotel is an example of a complex living system. By implementing worm hotels in our cities we are not only generating healthy soil, but also allowing the users of the worm hotels to reconnect with nature and build social cohesion in neighbourhoods. 

Green for Living and for Research: The Green Living Lab.

Just a few hundred meters away from the location of the Worm Hotel at Circl is the The Green Living Lab. This unique green oasis is an initiative of Aveen Colgan and Arthur de Smidt. Together they have spend the last 4 years showing the value of nature within the city to university students, businesses and local residents. The Green Living Lab is located on one of the last spots of pure soil that is within the Amsterdam borders. It is one of the last spots where soil has not been poisoned or build upon. If Rembrand would have painted it The Green Living Lab would be a museum. I personally think it deserves to be just that: a museum for soil and natural systems within urban development. 

Soil is prescious. 

The value of a building, a piece of property, stuff... it all is expressed in currency. I hope we humans will start valuing living soil more then dead currencies before its gone. And keep and nurture the last bits of living soil we have in the places where we live so the generations after us can thank us for making a wise choice.

Dirt is alive!

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