In my utopian world, cities would be their own ecosystem equipped with rooftop highways for squirrels and birdfeed re-fuel stations. But, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, Washington, D.C. does an impressive job at maintaining ecosystem corridors throughout the city through the use of pocket parks. Pocket parks are little ecological havens where animals and insects can take shelter from human activity when traveling between larger habitats.
Actively looking for pocket parks made me realize just how many there are in D.C. As I leave my house, I can see at least five on New Hampshire Avenue before the Washington Circle. I thought maybe it would be difficult to find greenery outside of a coffee shop, but there was a tiny pocket park outside of the first coffee shop I walked by on K Street.
Pocket parks offer a chance to take shelter from human activity, along with the birds and squirrels. The city has a number of coalitions and community organizations to keep pocket parks well maintained so every one has the chance to escape every once in a while. You can look for your local park organization or start one here.
Of course, we are still far away from seeing green tree frogs in our parks. The green city utopia of today is more focused on reviving caterpillar populations and pollinators with native plants. The utopia of tomorrow will re-establish bird biodiversity. The next century may bring a fully integrated city, but until then pocket parks are the stepping-stones we need for a healthy, biodiverse urban environment.