Cities cultivate 2 types of green

Squatting on the roof of a row house with a panoramic view of the sewage plants and warehouses that surround the South Bronx, James Wells sounds like a tree-hugger.

He photographs the progress of seedlings he planted on the roof, one of his first “green roof” installations, and explains how roofs covered by soil and plants, more trees on the ground and cleaner parks are key to fighting the pollution that overwhelms the neighborhood. As he speaks, a pungent rotting smell emanates from a sewage plant.

“Imagine living under these types of conditions,” says Wells, 29. “It’s one of the reasons asthma rates are so high in the Bronx.”

Two years ago, Wells made an improbable conversion from convict to environmentalist. He was just out of prison after serving 10 years for armed robbery and couldn’t find a job that would pay enough to make the rent.

Then he found Sustainable South Bronx, and he found a calling.

Cities cultivate 2 types of green – USATODAY.com. Marisol Bello

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