Saviors of the Planet: LearnBlue Global and The Urban Garden Initiative
Urbanization in Brief
Cities, which developed as a consequence of human civilization, have been the main centers of trade, governance, art, culture, learning, and innovation. The search for livelihoods, better educational opportunities, advanced health care facilities, and higher standard of living, among other factors, is responsible for attracting people to move into the cities.
Urbanization, the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities, has been rapidly growing. Processes like industrialization have further intensified urban growth.
Urban spaces, including cities, have been the drivers of economic growth, lifting millions out of acute poverty. They contribute immensely towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a nation.
The Perils of Urbanization
Rapid urbanization, however, is now seen as one of the biggest factors responsible for environmental degradation and poor sanitation in urban areas. Intensive urban growth has led to sharp rise in air and water pollution; greenhouse gas emissions; loss of urban forest cover; waste disposal problems; unavailability of potable water; overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions; higher energy consumption; congested roads; and an alarming boom in physical and mental health ailments. Exponentially growing population has further aggravated the situation.
Human health is intimately tied to natural and man-made environments. Our productivity level, decision-making ability, and behaviour is affected by our surroundings, both directly as well as indirectly. Polluted air levels, contaminated water and poor diet can lead to severe health problems such as heart diseases and hypertension. Lack of green spaces can not only amplify the harmful effects of pollution, but also heighten our mental stress.
One of the easiest and the cheapest ways to mitigate the threats posed by rapid urbanisation is tree plantation.
Considering the limited space that cities offer, gardening has emerged as an effective tool to tackle the sustainability issues in urban areas. Apart from enhancing the food security in cities, urban gardening can help in generating employment and maintaining ecological balance.
An ‘Out Of The Box’ Solution: The Urban Garden Initiative (TUGI)
Working towards the goal of achieving a greener, better, and more sustainable planet through urban gardening, The Urban Garden Initiative (TUGI) is a nonprofit organisation which engages the youth to solve the sustainability challenges of urban cities.
Founded by Megan Chen, The Urban Garden Initiative was born to solve the community issues of increasing food deserts (a food desert is defined as an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food), rising poverty levels, and deteriorating environmental conditions. What began in Wilmington, Delaware, is now globally recognised for its gardening-based educational program.
“Urban agriculture plays an important role in enhancing urban food security since the costs of supplying and distributing food to urban areas based on rural production and imports continue to increase, and do not satisfy the demand, especially of the poorer sectors of the population. Next to food security, urban agriculture contributes to local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor and women in particular, as well as to the greening of the city and the productive reuse of urban wastes.”RUAF Foundation. Source: The Urban Garden Initiative
In order to engage youth, The Urban Garden Initiative has designed a year-long program in environmental education as well as urban gardening in both the fall and the springtime. The youth-led environmentalist movement works closely with the schools in the late summer to adapt the workshop and curriculum to fit the needs of each individual school before the school year starts. Schools are provided with all the necessary materials for the workshop and the container gardens. These 45-minutes+ long videos contain an educational component as well as a hands-on gardening component.
To further raise awareness about urban gardening and environmental education all across the world, TUGI has been expanding its reach through the Chapters. So, if you think you can add value to the society and contribute towards environmental revival, do not forget to bring TUGI to your school and/or community by filling out the volunteer form.
Stills from the workshop conducted by The Urban Garden Initiative
Collaboration between LearnBlue Global and The Urban Garden Initiative
Indeed, the 21st century belongs to young people. Both LearnBlue and The Urban Garden Initiative firmly believe in the power of youth to transform the world. In our shared vision for the future, we are certain that with our focused and consistent efforts to achieve sustainable development goals, we can make our beautiful Earth a better, greener, safer place to live in for posterity.
We have no Planet B and like we always say, the change begins with us. #ItBeginsWithUs