It’s happening! (updated 17/07/17)

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Live Water Swimming, Bassin de la Villette, Paris Plages, Grand Opening Monday July 17th, 3pm 🙂

Paris has been working towards this for many years, well before the Summer Olympics bid, part of a long term environmental clean up and biodiversity project. What better way to raise awareness than to open a swimming area here? It’s a biofeedback loop for Parisians: water quality is monitored constantly and the pools will be closed whenever the water is unsafe. All around the enclosure displays show how this works, what sources of public and private pollution are being supervised, plant and animal species living in this water, how and why the waterway was constructed, how it has evolved… Maybe this will discourage deadbeats from throwing their refuse into the canal? Come swim and view the displays with your family, it’s a rich learning experience and a way to create a better future 🙂

http://www.thelocal.fr/20170530/take-the-plunge-paris-to-offer-free-canal-swimming-for-summer

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Smooth sailing! xxxxx Aliss

Today the water was laughing

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Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19, near the soon-to-open “Live Water” swimming area, canal so clear, I stopped in my tracks to admire fish of all sizes swimming among the plant life.

Two electric-blue dragonflies flitted in front of me, hovered and disappeared, too fast to photograph. (The fish, too, are camera-shy). When Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris many moons ago, he announced he’d swim in the Seine in the year 2000. It took longer than he thought, but decades of effort by local communities and the Paris city government, bio-diversity campaigns and sewage treatment, are paying off. What seemed like science fiction is actually happening.

For more information about wild flora and fauna in Paris,  “sustainable walk” apps, action steps:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#balades-paris-durable_5

Beautiful posters to download:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#affiches-sur-la-faune-et-la-flore-parisiennes_8

Reasons for optimism! Love xxxxx Aliss

Proof That The Wheel Turns

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When my daughter was a baby, the canal area above was a drug-infested post-industrial wasteland. I started finding bloody syringes in our building and was about to pull up stakes, when the powers that be rerouted traffic behind the colonnaded 18th century Rotonde to create an esplanade for carnivals and concerts. Suddenly there were playgrounds, cobblestone walkways, trees, and a bike path out to the country. Some brave local dads stood vigil around a crack house to attract media attention and organized petitions and protests until the dealers left. Movie theaters, restaurants, and a marina opened. Every summer the city stages Paris Plages, with its sandy beaches, palm trees, party lights, dance floors, and water sports. On weekends, singles and families wander to and from pétanque parties and picnics. All year round, you can watch double decker tour boats passing through the locks, wild swans, and sunsets. Risen from its ashes, the quartier is a hip destination. Against all odds, religious communities coexist without much friction, maybe because plaques at our elementary school door remind us everyday how almost 400 Jewish children were rounded up here and sent to death camps during the Occupation. The least we can do to honor them is keep the peace in our urban bubble.

Since 2011 Paris has created green and blue corridors (land and water migration paths) as part of a far-reaching Biodiversity Plan, no longer using chemical pesticides in public spaces and leaving many lawn areas fallow. Foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs, peregrine falcons, wild swans, bats have returned to the parks and waterways in our district and the water quality has improved enough for humans to return to the Bassin de la Villette for swimming summer 2017. Paris hopes to organize the summer Olympics in 2024 and hold aquatic events in the Seine 🙂

To be continued! xxxx Aliss