Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Places&Culture from
NY Times

"Last year we did only 50 roof gardens. So far this year we have already had 200 orders." The realization that Tokyo is becoming a vast "heat island" is behind the boom in roof gardens. Here, centuries of gradual climate change are telescoping into decades. "Over the last century, Tokyo temperatures have increased five times as fast as global warming," said Takehiro Mikami, a professor of climatology at Tokyo Metropolitan University. While the world's average mean temperature has increased by one degree Fahrenheit since 1900, Tokyo's has increased by 5.2 degrees.

Avenir P. Ovsyanov was only 20 but can still recount in exacting detail how in 1957 he helped destroy this city's German soul.Following orders from local Soviet bosses, Mr. Ovsyanov's military engineering class bored hundreds of holes in the ruins of the city's 13th-century castle, packed them with dynamite and began blasting away 700 years of history. It is perhaps a fitting twist of fate that now, as director of the region's historical preservation department, Mr. Ovsyanov's job is to protect — or recover, as is more often the case — the art, culture and history lost first by war and then by Soviet rule.

The Harlem Little League was founded in 1989 by Dwight and Iris Raiford at the urging of their son Joshua, who was 9. They struck a deal; if he agreed to take piano lessons, they would start a Little League program in Harlem. The league's early fields had broken glass, discarded crack vials and tire ruts. But the Raifords and other volunteers worked to make the fields safe places to play, and the league has grown from 129 players in its first year to nearly 700 now.
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