One of OSU's newest agricultural experiments is on top of the Portland Building, 17 stories above the downtown city streets. It's a green roof—not the hanging gardens of Babylon nor the potted palms of penthouses. It's where researchers and city officials have turned the idea of landscape upside-down and created a living roof of hard-working grasses and flowers. Portland has 12,500 acres of rooftop. Where some people see air vents and pigeon roosts, OSU's urban ecologists see a new frontier for creating landscapes that help absorb storm water, reduce city heat, and soften the hard edges of the concrete jungle.
This issue of Oregon's Agricultural Progress magazine is all about seeing things from a different perspective.
For example, far above the city and out of sight, the pollution of modern life circulates the globe. A team of scientists tracked some of the world's most toxic compounds that are hitchhiking on global air currents and found them settled into some of the world's most remote regions. It's easy to think that places far removed from human activity would be pristine, said one researcher, but they are not. "Pollution doesn't go away, because there is no 'away.'"
Another OSU researcher, hunched over a small desk in an Asian hotel room, analyzes samples of flesh with lab equipment that he carries in a suitcase. The crime he may uncover is the sale of whale meat from endangered species. With genetic fingerprinting he is able to make the marketplace more transparent.
And, we take a second look at the humble bumble bee. With honey bees in decline through much of the country, researchers are looking to these and other native bees to do the heavy lifting of pollinating crops.
In these stories and more, OSU research helps us see things from a different perspective. Much of this research got its original boost from small grants, seed money that helped sow wild ideas into fields of discovery. These are stories of science turning things around and seeing the world anew.