If you read my original post about The Twelve Virtues of the Merchant Priests, as suggested in the book, Sacred Commerce, my goal is to reflect upon and write about these  12 virtues — honor, loyalty, nobility, virtue, grace, trust, courage, courtesy, gallantry, authority, service, and humility — one a month for an entire year until I get through the list of twelve.  Well, it’s been 5-ever since my last post and at the rate I’m going, it’s going to be more like three years,  but I think we’ve already determined that time isn’t linear so why hold so tightly to such outmoded concepts, i.e., why sweat the small stuff?  Since the 12 virtues of the merchant priest “automatically lift us to a higher octave of being,” we’ll take our higher love where and at the pace we can get it.  It’s election season.  Fervor, fever, are they much different?

This month’s virtue is, oddly, Virtue.  Here goes:


Virtue has many traits:  moral excellence, integrity, purity, and stick-to-itness, to name a few; yet virtue doesn’t strive to be anything but kind.  Virtue spends her days in a blanket of quiet confidence although sometimes she wears a disguise — a funny hat and glasses, or maybe a wig — because even the most confident are, at times, rattled by life.  Afterwards Virtue visits hospice, flitting in and out on a ray of sunshine to hold a hand, hum a song, or even play the harp or violin.  The patients love her because she is a good listener who appreciates the value of silence.  In that way, she sprinkles their last days with dollops of joy and they remind her how important it is to be present.

Virtue wasn’t always happy.  Back in the day, she experienced some hard times that gave her a broader perspective on life’s big and little troubles.  Now she doesn’t take much of anything very seriously.  She knows life is cyclical; with the right attitude, a person can overcome anything.  

Goodness, righteousness, integrity, dignity — these are all adjectives people have used to describe Virtue.  Each time she receives a compliment she smiles and ducks her head a little because she’s kind of shy.  Also, she doesn’t believe what she does is such a big deal since everyone can do it. 


Sometimes Virtue sits on a camping chair in the field out back and watches the stars, losing herself in the counting of them.  On each, she makes a wish for someone she knows and sometimes for someone she doesn’t.  She hopes her small blessing is carried on the wind and the wishee will feel it like a lover’s kiss.  In this way, Virtue touches more people than her physical body could ever hope to do.

When Virtue gets weary about the state of the world and why no one seems to care that much anymore, she walks on the beach and breathes in the negative ions from the ocean — the ones that restore the body — and listens to the sound of the waves with her whole self.  That’s when Virtue realizes that people care too much, not too little, and that makes them afraid.  Virtue’s witnessed incapacitating Fear.  He can really be a jerk when he wants.  Virtue makes a mental note to double down on her efforts to spread more joy where she can, like lighting a candle in the darkness.

pjlazos 11.2.18

Posted in blog, higher consciousness, Uncategorized, virtue, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

#Halloween2018 is here. Fallen #Princeborn: Stolen is here. #FREE. #onedayonly. Enjoy a little #trickortreat, #readers, with some #adventure & #romance in this #darkfantasy #BookLaunch!

Neil Gaiman, move over. Jean Lee is here!

Get your copy of “Fallen Princeborn: Stolen” today! A first novel from what surely will be one of THE most compelling voices in the dark fantasy genre. Go for it. You know you want to read it.

Jean Lee's World

Good morning, folks!

Pretty sure I’m not going to be breathing much today.

Today, from sunrise to sundown this Halloween, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is yours.


Copy of We have all of us had our bloody days, Charlotte. For many it is easier to remain in them than to change. To change requires to face a past stained by screams.

What’s particularly awesome about this release of freeness (new word!) is that the platinum edition includes “Tattered Rhapsody” from Tales of the River Vine as well as an excerpt from the second novel, Chosen. 

Not sure you want to snatch it up? Check out what these amazing writers and readers have to say about it:


The rich sensory images and tight POV kept me so tangled in the story that I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Charlotte and her sister, Anna- the love and pain and frustration that can only come from family. Charlotte’s determination to protect Anna, whatever the personal cost, endeared her to me. The dark world beyond the Wall…

View original post 374 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments


We Are the World Blogfest

Okay, I’m a lawyer (don’t hold that against me) and an environmentalist, so this month’s entry for #WATWB is about the New York Attorney General’s office and their lawsuit against Exxon Mobile for fraudulently advising investors about the risks of climate change regulation and the methods by which Exxon was preparing for it.  Hmmm, a story about a lawsuit doesn’t sound so feel good happy, you say?  Well, read on.

According to the New York Times (fake news in some circles, but in my humble opinion, a newspaper with the highest, most reputable journalistic standards in the world) article, the lawsuit alleges that:  “[Exxon Mobile] engaged in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” to deceive investors, analysts and underwriters “concerning the company’s management of the risks posed to its business by climate change regulation.”   In essence, Exxon did a little dance with the books, i.e., two sets, one with the projected real-time costs of climate change on the company’s bottom line, and another that it trotted out to investors.  According to the New York Attorney General, the differences were significant.

By focusing on the company’s misleading information given to investors regarding the cost — ultimately to them — of climate change, rather than focusing on any number of environmental laws that may or may not have required Exxon to do something to help curb climate change, the Attorney General was able to use a century old securities law to assist in the fight rather than try to push something through the quagmire of current environmental policy that is as politically charged as a lightning rod and not at all likely to carry the day.

Sheer brilliance.  And the lawsuit involves attorneys general from other states, too.  This is the kind of checks and balances on power that the framers of the Constitution intended.  The wheels of justice do turn slowly, but they turn.  And the possible side-effect of slowing down the rate at which climate change could eventually change the face of the planet as we know it should make us all happy, too.

pjlazos 10.36.18

Once again, here are the guidelines for #WATWB

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hastag to help us trend!

Tweets, Facebook shares, Pins, Instagram, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. We’ll try and follow and share all those who post on the #WATWB hashtag, and we encourage you to do the same.

Want to join #WATWB? Then click here to enter your link and join us and spread the joy!

This month’s cohosts are:  Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese and Roshan Radhakrishnan

And once you’ve written your posts, please link them here:

Thank you!


Posted in #WATWB, fraudulent scheme, happy news, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Jean Lee’s World


I’ve heard people say that Tony Bennett is a singer’s singer, the consummate performer, the pitch, the tone, the tempo, the clarity, the inflection, all always spot on.  The same can be said of writing and Jean Lee, a woman I know solely through blogging (although no doubt we’ve hung out on the astral plane), and am now happy to call friend; she is the equivalent — a real writer’s writer.

Jean Lee is a Wisconsin born and bred writer excited to share her young adult fiction with those who love to find other worlds hidden in the humdrum of everyday life. Her first novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, debuts, Halloween 2018 from Aionios Books. She also blogs regularly about the fiction, music, and landscapes that inspire her as a writer . You can find Jean on her site, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the handle @jeanleesworld. She currently lives in the Madison area with her husband and three children. 

Synopsis for Fallen Princeborn Stolen

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of young-adult dark-fantasy novels by Jean Lee. Watch for book 2 in March 2019. Read Tales of the River Vine, a collection of FREE short stories based on the characters in the Fallen Princeborn omnibus.


And now, the questions:

Do you use a pen name and if so, why?

I do! I grew up in the Midwest, where many people knew my parents and therefore knew me by default. When I started writing three years ago, I wanted to earn respect for my skills based on my skills alone, not because of whom I was related to or where I had come from. Writing under a pen name has also allowed me to work through some very raw, bloody pieces of my life I couldn’t otherwise share because of other individuals involved.

How long have you been writing?  

Writing’s always been a part of me. I started doodling picture books before I was school-age. I still distinctly remember drawing a monster kidnapping a kid, forcing him to make giant peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and then Superman flying in to tie the monster up and save the day. I kept writing stories and plays all through elementary school, high school, and college. I went on to study creative writing in graduate school, which…okay, I didn’t really learn what to do so much as what not to do. I still consider those years worthwhile, as they taught me to handle peer criticism with grace. But I also learned that what I wanted to write—genre writing—isn’t “important” like literary fiction is. Bah, I say! You write what YOU want to write, forever and always. If you can’t write with a passion, then what’s the point?

What’s your routine?  Do you take breaks, or write until you fall asleep at your keyboard?

My routine is eternally in flux because of children. I stole whatever writing time I could when my children were infants, often early in the morning or during nap time. Once my children started attending school part-time, I divvied that time between writing and teaching. Now that the kids are in school full-time, I actually have several hours to budget!

However, as amazing as having a contract is, it also means I’m now divvying the hours not only with teaching and writing, but also marketing, reviewing, corresponding, commenting, and editing. Some days I’m up from four in the morning until midnight; other days I’m off with the kids all day. So long as I follow the list of what’s got to get done and when, I just take a deep breath and pray it all gets done. 

What is your favorite genre of book to write?  to read?

As far as writing goes, I LOVE to write fantasy. It’s the perfect blending genre. You can stick a murder mystery in there, a family drama, a coming-of-age quest, a romance, a horror. It can all fit into a fantasy when done right.

Reading-wise, I’ll usually reach for either a cozy mystery by the likes of Agatha Christie or P.D. James, or a fantasy by the likes of Diana Wynne Jones or Peadar Ó Guilín.

All author’s I’ve never read — although I do have the Diana Wynne Jones book on writing on my Kindle which is on my shortlist of what to read next.  BTW, what’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?

Diana Wynne Jones, hands down! Her stories are always a joy to read—I’m not ashamed to giggle like a ninny no matter who’s around me when I read them.

No way can I pick a favorite novel. There are just too many good ones in every genre! I can say that Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite Jones novel, with Deep Secret running a close second. As far as craft books go, I’d recommend Jones’ book Reflections on the Magic of Writing. It is both instructive and insightful into her life, the publishing process, and the development of strong storytelling. 

Do you think writing is a form of therapy and, if so, has it helped you work through anything in particular?  

Oh heavens, yes. I suffered very, very severe postpartum depression when my twin sons were born. Alone in the house with three tiny ones always needing, never sleeping, colic screaming…plus, I was teaching from home, and my husband’s hours kept him gone for many of the children’s waking hours, so I was more or less a single parent for three years. I lived one day at a time—on bad days, one hour at a time. Writing helped me face my demons, and battle back against the anger, fear, sadness, and regret.

Today writing continues to be one of the greatest tools I wield against depression. It’s also a way for me to maintain perspective in the highs and lows of parenting. “Use your words,” I always tell my children when they’re frustrated or upset. 

Such advice is good for us all.

Do you work outside of writing?

I teach remedial composition online for an American university. It’s about as exciting as it sounds.

What’s your best time of day to write?

Because I teach online—and the kids are in school—my time to write can be in the morning or early afternoon. It all depends on my mindset, on the marketing to-do list, and on the ever dreaded grading pile.

What inspires you?

I’ve always found inspiration in powerful instrumental music from composers like John Powell and James Horner. Inspiration also used to be the bizarre dreams I’d have on 1-2 hours of sleep in the midst of nursing children. Nowadays it still comes from music, but also the adversities my children face…and create. So there’s nooooo end of inspiration to be found in this house.

Pantser or perfectionist?

Both, which is likely the worst possible combination.

I often have a rough idea where the story needs to go, with a moment or two in dew-drop level of detail. But bringing light to the story around the moments is a long process, often requiring anywhere from three to eight rewrites to complete. It needs to be just right. And I can’t make it just right by forcing it with a rigid plan.

Ah yes, totally agree on this.  Being both spontaneous and a stickler for detail can result in some really great fiction.  So tell me about your other books.

Middler’s Pride is a serialized young-adult fantasy novel available through the subscription service Channillo. I also currently have a number of short stories available for free download under the collection Tales of the River Vine. My young-adult dark-fantasy novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, will available starting Halloween 2018.

Congratulations!  I’m looking forward to reading Fallen Princeborn: Stolen.  I just finish the Tales of the River Vine stories, a wonderful set!  So, what do you think?  Indie or traditional publishing?

Hmmm. I think small press publishing fits snugly between the two. There’s a good deal you need to help with through every stage of the editing and publishing process. While this means you’ve got a lot of creative say on the technical side of things, you also have to complete many tasks that aren’t related to storytelling. It’s tough, but worth that creative power.

Tell me about your family.

I’ve been married over ten years to someone who doesn’t like to read or watch fantasy anything. Yes, we somehow make that work.

Three: firstborn daughter Blondie, our geologist and Inventor of Puppy-Helping Devices, and the twins, Biff and Bash. Biff’s our reader and Devourer of All Things Cosmic, while Bash is our prankster and Snuggling Storyteller.

Have you included your own stories in your writing, some small details, or do you completely make everything up?  Either way, how do you interpret the phrase, write what you know?

Yes.  It’s rather like re-using fabric: I cut out pieces from my own experiences and stitch them onto characters to find the emotional color of the scene. Most recently I did this with the short story “The Preservation Jar”: there’s a moment when the main character, utterly alone, comes into a room still littered with articles other characters have left behind. I pulled upon that experience of coming to my parents’ house the day my father died, and finding his work coat, books, and notes scattered about the kitchen as if all was a normal day.

You don’t have to know an experience to write it. You have to know the feelings of that experience to write it.

I love the metaphor of fabric.  And yes, if you nail the emotion, you can make most anything work.  What about research?  How much do you do before you begin a writing project?

Ew, research, what’s that?

I kid. Seriously, I tend to do very little research—as I once explained on my website, I tend to “Google as I go.” This stems from writing in the midst of motherhood; writing minutes should be WRITING minutes, not reading minutes! So long as I can get a few facts and a few visuals in my head, I can pants my way through the rest.

Same same.  I think we might be split aparts!

So much fun this has been!  But I’ve got to get it posted if it’s going to help get the word out about your new book so the final question is:  do you think writing can save the world?

YES. I tell my students this all the time. So much of today’s problems revolve around misunderstanding and misconception. Everyone’s quick to jump to the soundbytes and react out of context, which creates more reactions and more soundbytes and more reactions to the point where all is completely distorted from the original issue. If people took the time to read completely, and to write their thoughts completely, so much anger and pain could be avoided. Sure, not everyone’s going to agree and bring about world peace, but there’d be a clearer understanding. That’s way more than we’ve got right now.

Thanks, Jean Lee, and best of luck with the book launch for Fallen Princeborn:  Stolen!

Want to stay in touch with Jean Lee?  Well then, have a look at her contact info:

Facebook: Twitter:                                                      Amazon author page: website:                                                                    Publisher site:                                        Instagram @jeanleesworld                                                                                             Email:

pjlazos 10.22.18


Posted in blog, book review, books, fantasy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

will grayson will grayson

                                                   will grayson

                                                              will grayson

I found will grayson will grayson, written by John Green and David Levithan in the backseat pocket of our Honda Odyssey when I was cleaning out the van.  It belonged to one of our kids’, left over from a 12-hour road trip to Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, I’m sure, but forfeited in favor of half a dozen DVDs because watching is easier than reading and you don’t get car sick.  Who knows how long it had been there, its pages dog-eared, the corners of the cover curling as if it had experienced water damage (a damp beach towel, perhaps?).

The last of our tribe went off to college this fall so I’m pretty sure no one is going to want to read this book any time soon given the demands of a full-time college schedule and the fact that their tastes no longer run toward the YA novel.  Yet I, never one to let a book pass through my fingers without at least a whiff of a few paragraphs inside, was delighted by not only the words, but the concept:  two random strangers meet through a series of bizarre events to discover they have not only the same name, but in some weird, abstruse analysis, the same kinds of problems.  Since I myself was about to take a trip, I stuck it in my bag for the plane ride and ended up finishing it before I returned home.

You wouldn’t think that a YA novel would have much to say to an adult and recent empty nester, but you’d be wrong.  will grayson will grayson was fabulous, full of witticisms and criticisms about life, love, relationships, each other, and all the things that make a good book great. Also, as a writer, I got to study plot and pacing from two different viewpoints (interestingly, both Green and Levithan were on the cusp of great success when they wrote this book).  Diversity and inclusion, mental health, and being a gay man in a homophobic world are just a few of the big topics this writing duo tackles with humor, grace and resourcefulness.  The result is heartfelt and satisfying.

will grayson (1) is a smart kid with two parents, a good home, and an aversion to getting involved with anything and anyone, but makes an exception for his best friend, Tiny Cooper, a giant of a kid/man who is gay and proud of it.  will stuck up for Tiny once in a letter to the editor and because of the attention it garnered him, he’s been kicking his own ass ever since.  will grayson (2) is a smart, but lonely kid, (really, isn’t that true of all high school kids on some level?) with divorced parents, a mom who struggles to keep it all together financially and emotionally, an absentee dad, and a diagnosis of depression.  Oh, and he’s gay which adds to his difficulty in navigating life’s vicissitudes.

Green and Levithan wrote the book each from the perspective of their own will graysons and that alone kept it fresh and surprising, both for the reader and the writer.  In addition to will grayson will grayson, both are prolific YA novelists:  Green wrote The Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska while Levithan wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, among others.

 If you want a bit of insight into the minds of today’s high schoolers or simply a walk down memory lane — because a parallel experience is a parallel experience and high school remains the same no matter what decade we are living in — then read will grayson will grayson.

pjlazos 10.8.18

Posted in blog, book review, books, Uncategorized, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments


WATWB – GI (Green Infrastructure)

Do not despair our present difficulties, but believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here.  Americans never quit. We never surrender.  We never hide from history.  We make history.

Farewell speech of Sen. John McCain


Well, here we are again, the last Friday of the month and I’m in bonny Sugar Land, Texas, about 20 minutes from Houston, at a leadership conference for the Association of Jr. Leagues International.  Today I gave a presentation on green infrastructure, particularly, on building rain gardens, to a gathering of women belonging to Jr. Leagues from all over the country.  My hope is that maybe one or two will want to adopt our model and start building rain gardens in their cities.  It won’t fix the problem in the short term, but this is a long game for the more sustainable future that I know is at hand.

Meanwhile, I don’t want to shirk my WATWB duties so I’m leaving you with a story from the Chesapeake Bay Journal about, what else?  Green Infrastructure.  The town is Edmonston, Maryland, population 1,500, a half square mile of land outside of D.C. on the NE branch of the Anacostia River.   What started as a response to flooding has become a way of life for the residents of this working class community, and as the people of Edmonton continue to go green, they are enjoying a better quality of life as well.  Bioretention basins, rain gardens, permeable pavers, slower traffic to allow cyclists to ride and pedestrians to saunter, and fruit trees — particularly useful for a town that doesn’t have affordable groceries — abound.  Edmonston is a great model for other cities hoping to embrace the concept.  Go here to read more.

As for WATWB, this month’s cohosts are Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein and Peter Nena

You know the rest.

BTDubs, this is a Blog Hop! Soooooooooooooo

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

pjlazos 9.28.18

Posted in access to water, clean water, environment, environmental conservation, flooding, green infrastructure, sustainable cities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sponge Cities

[photo credit – The Source magazine – 8.30.2017]


Sponge Cities

As I made my way into work the other day, an announcement on the radio alerted me to a flood warning that would be in effect until later that evening.  It had rained the day before, and the day before that, the rivers, brown and agitated, running hurriedly along, bursting their banks after a month of many, often heavy rains.  Unofficially, my friend’s rain gauge counted a staggering 24” of rain here in Central Pennsylvania in the month of August alone.  Officially, according to NOAA, sea levels are predicted to rise from 7 – 15 inches for low emission areas and 10 – 23 inches for high emission areas by the year 2100.    Around the U.S., flooding occurs with 50% more regularity than a decade ago and the frequency, especially for coastal cities, will only increase.   You don’t need to be a mathematician to realize the strain this puts on the economy as well as the insurance companies’ customers’ pockets.  

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey unleashed a fury on the city of Houston that few in modern times have seen, a 500-year storm event that dumped 60” of rain — that’s 9 trillion gallons of water — in two days.  The wind and rain destroyed neighborhoods, submerged highways until they looked like rivers, and caused a $125 billion in storm-related damage.  This week, Hurricane Florence hit the Carolina coast. The damage to life and property has not yet been tallied there, but it, too, has been extreme.  While Houston won’t be the last place to buckle in such an extreme weather event, it’s set the scene for the perfect storm where sprawl and a lack of cohesive zoning laws met climate change with disastrous results.

[photo credit – BGR – 8.29.17]

The city of Houston (founded 1837), like many major port cities, was built on marshes, flood plains, and forested wetlands.  Similarly, cities like Philadelphia and Boston also started as marshes and wetlands before fill created prime real estate and led to a booming economy, great for a burgeoning city in the 18th century, but not always a plus for a 600-square-mile megalopolis like present day Houston.  True, development is grand.  We aren’t called a “civilized society” because we’re still sleeping in trees, but in continuing to pave over the earth’s spongey nature, we leave the science behind and do ourselves and future generations a disservice.  

The benefits of wetlands, marshes, bogs and the like are astounding.  Take flooding, for example.  A 1997 study suggested that wetlands in the U.S. saved $23 billion in property damage alone.  I would guess that today the savings is exponentially higher.  In the beginning, wetlands and marshes were nature’s stormwater management plan, the way the earth mitigated flood damage.  Today, the water simply has nowhere to go.  We’ve downgraded wetlands to nuisances, paving them over wherever possible.  We’re literally paying for that decision with increased flood damage and insurance costs.


[photo credit –  Business Insider – 11/10/17]

So how can the modern world adjust and undo the mistakes of yesterday?  What about sponge cities?!  Wetlands and swampy areas have always been a necessary component of stormwater management.  If water has no way out it will find your basement, or maybe even your living room if you live in a place like Venice.  Green infrastructure — rain gardens, green roofs, bioswales and the like — holds water like a sponge, allowing for increased residence time so the water can soak back into the ground and return to ground water rather than run off to the stormwater drain.  Permeable surfaces allow for passage so water is not stuck sloshing around topside where people work, live and play, giving the water a chance to return home, in essence, managing flood waters just like wetlands, marshes and bogs used to do.

Seven years ago under the leadership of Harold Neukrug, the City of Philadelphia initiated a 25-year green infrastructure program designed to retrofit enough of the City’s impermeable surfaces with green infrastructure that it would reduce stormwater infiltration by 75 – 80%.   Philly has a combined sewer system, meaning when it rains, stormwater infiltrates the sewer lines, and in the case of extreme weather events, overruns the system.  Too much stormwater passing through the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) will drown the good bacteria that eat the waste.  Instead of disabling the system with floodwaters, individual WWTPs choose to bypass the system, meaning the combined sewer water and stormwater, albeit now diluted, is sent directly to the outfall in the river, a necessary, but not preferable option.  Green infrastructure is successful because it reduces by degrees the volume of stormwater entering the system.  Philly’s green infrastructure program has been, and hopefully, will continue to be very successful. 

In China, local municipalities are turning the streets “green” much like the City of Philadelphia has been doing.  To combat the recent increase in flooding due to the ongoing spread of impermeable surfaces exacerbated by climate change, China is investing in green infrastructure such as rain gardens, rooftop gardens, bioswales, plant beds and permeable pavers.   In addition to soaking up water, the hope is that sponge cities can soak up some of the urban pollution, trapping it in the soils and keeping it from returning to the rivers through the stormwater system.  Wetlands and their ilk are enjoying a renaissance!

In the Lingang district in Shanghai where only 20-30% of the rainwater is able to infiltrate back to groundwater, the government has invested $119 million in retrofitting the city to include green infrastructure and hopes to attain rainwater re-use levels of 70%.    Lingang’s focus has been on green roofs since the existing park infrastructure is generally higher than street level and, as such, not a good candidate for retrofitting because of the sheer amount of soil that would need to be removed and relocated.  


[photo credit – Impact Alpha – 5.7.18]

Government officials in China hope that Lingang can be a model for other cities wishing to do the same.  Part of the challenge is tailoring the retrofitting projects to each individual city, finding the proper green materials, and money, money, money, since many Chinese cities, like here in the U.S., are experiencing a municipal debt crisis. Another part of the challenge is to bring together the many agencies that normally work within their silos. It is here where academia can be of great assistance.  So far, the 30 cities in the China involved in the sponge city project have received a total of $12 billion.  This may be steep price tag, but it comes with a wellspring of benefits, including social, economic and public health; all well worth the investment.  Just ask Philadelphia.  Or the insurance companies.  

pjlazos 9.23.18

Posted in climate change, green infrastructure, mitigate flood damage, retrofit, sea level rise, sponge cities, sponge city, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments