Architects, advocates discuss how to green our cities and how Occupy changed the conversation

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Architects, builders and advocates met in Downey on Thursday to talk about how cities and public agencies can make use of green building principles. Some planners have acknowledged that the Occupy movement may have helped change the conversation at this year's meeting.

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered the park at City Hall closed, he said a key goal was repairing the grounds on which Occupy protesters had camped for two months. Those grounds will soon reopen with new native plants like Toyons taking up space where grass and non-natives once stood.

Glen Dake is a private landscape architect who works with public schools and parks. He says cities interested in restoring the past haven't always sought out native plants, even though they've become increasingly popular.

Sitting near the City Hall lawn, he said that may be changing.

"There's a natural tension between the environmentalists and historic preservationists," Dake said. "My message to both people is you're much more working in concert than you are in opposition."

L.A. isn't the only place where native plants are becoming a part of City Hall landscaping. Dake gave his talk alongside a representative from the City of Santa Monica at the Southern California Municipal Green Building.

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