DeKalb commissioner, Roots Down working to transform library landscapes

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry. Image provided to Decaturish.

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County is working to address public land use as a climate change mitigation strategy by reimagining about 75 acres of land to ecological and regenerative landscapes. The county committed to doing so through the Fruitful Libraries Resolution to adopt a vision and transition plan to transform the landscaping of all 23 DeKalb County libraries.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry introduced the resolution after partnering with Roots Down to help build eight productive urban landscapes in the county, according to a press release.

“The United States landscaping industry is a $115 billion industry. DeKalb County, alone,  budgets thousands of dollars for traditional landscaping that gets us fossil fuel emissions, pollution, poorer health outcomes, and degraded public spaces,” Terry said. “By reimagining our landscapes, we can move closer to net zero emissions and bring communities together with budgets that already exist.”

The new landscaping will include edible, native, and pollinator friendly plants, which will help build more environmental and resilient ecosystems.

“We are excited to build safe, outdoor spaces that give back to the community,” Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said. “Libraries are the perfect place to start because they reach a cross-section of our residents. These landscapes will offer an opportunity for hands-on learning that can be expanded upon with all of the knowledge and resources in our libraries.”

Roots Down had guided the initiative to make sure programs and education are involved in transforming the landscapes and protecting them.

“The Fruitful Libraries Resolution is much more than enhancing the greenspace surrounding the libraries,” said Jamie Rosenthal, founder and CEO of Roots Down. “It relies on a programmatic ecosystem that includes green job training, youth programs, and educational opportunities to teach how we can advocate for a greener Georgia. This landscape paradigm shift happening at the libraries will positively ripple effect on so many people by bringing the community closer together.”

This transition plan will include redesigning the library landscape to be more ecologically and community-friendly. It will consist of a community engagement strategy, continuing green job education for DeKalb County landscaping vendors, continuing education for library staff to best use this new resource in programming, and an overhaul of landscape maintenance request for proposals.

“We are excited about the opportunity these updated landscapes will provide our libraries,” said Alison Weisseger, director of DeKalb County Public Libraries. “From outdoor programming to ecology education, these new landscapes give new meaning to our motto ‘a place to grow.’”

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