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Graduate’s ‘Living Bridge’ Inspires Locals To Go Green

When Carmen Douville graduated from Edinburgh in 2012 she was a bit of a visionary. Just one year on and she has been applying her ideals to community projects in her native Canada.

Carmen Douville

Carmen, who gained an MSc in Environment, Culture and Society, has been co-leading the LIVINGbridge project in Edmonton, Alberta. The LIVINGbridge is an urban garden located on top of an abandoned railway bridge in the city centre. It was inspired by urban designs that encourage a sense of community ownership and enjoyment of public green space. It’s a labour of love and passion, utilising wasteland for the good of the community and relying on local volunteers to plant and maintain the garden.

“The hope is to foster pride and community engagement for downtown Edmonton,” says Carmen. “And its location creates a unique opportunity to provide a new, distinctive vantage point of the city, becoming a destination for relaxation and improving its perceived safety and value to the community.”

Environmental impact

Living Bridge

There are benefits for the environment, too. The garden is being planted with native, drought resistant plants and indigenous edibles to lessen water consumption and reduce the environmental impact. The project has also received support from numerous community organisations and local sustainable food companies.

Edinburgh memories

For Carmen, the LIVINGbridge forms part of several pursuits she has undertaken since leaving Edinburgh. “I am working for a not-for-profit organisation which deals with high risk youth, and includes the redevelopment and engagement of their new building. I am also a co-founder of a furniture company which has been established for over 9 years now, and this autumn I will be teaching at the University of Alberta in the Industrial Design Department.”

She has fond memories of her time at the University, too: “My favourite memories involve spending time with my classmates, meeting new people from around the world, and my fantastic dissertation advisor. Also, thanks Edinburgh for the amazing coffee and cocktails!”

Advice to students

And for Carmen it was at Edinburgh that she learned to follow her visionary ideas. “My advice to current students is to take chances and experiment,” she says. “This is the time for you to explore your interests with freedom, and the chance to find a network of friends and contacts that will help you foster your visions and dreams.”

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