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ERIN ALTZ '06 is trying to save the world--one rooftop at a time.

She just may do it. Altz exudes creative ideas to spare, the most prominent being a concept she has based a business on: Edible Skylines. Its mission is so new, even Portlanders well versed in greenspeak may not have heard of the term rooftop agriculture.

Altz looked around and saw ecoroofs sprouting everywhere downtown, and wondered, "Why not grow edible plants on roofs?" Out of that--and a serendipitous job she obtained by writing a grant for a charter school that wanted a rooftop vegetable garden--Edible Skylines was born.

It is an effort, she says, to solve multiple challenges in one fell swoop. In designing and implementing rooftop vegetable gardens, she hopes restaurants, schools, and businesses can grow their own food and save on both the financial and ecological costs of transportation. She has received media attention for a garden she installed above Rocket restaurant on East Burnside.

"Erin is a pioneer in a field that has enormous potential," says Steve Cohen, of the city of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development. "As we see our city become more dense, there is this amazing potential for using rooftops for growing food."

Born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Altz came to Portland State to study psychology. She expanded her perspective after the devastating events of 9/11 to include a societal consideration and worldview.

She became interested in globalization and issues related to population growth, the consumption of fossil fuels, and "what we can do to mitigate these problems," she says.

"I've always felt that I could change the world and make a difference. I really saw the potential to create change, even on an international level."

For more information about Edible Skylines, contact Altz at 503-544-8727 or erinaltz@gmail.com

By Cliff Collins