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Evgenia, Irina
school 130, 10, 8 grades


Our hometown has got an unusual name, it's called the Academic Center of Siberia. Everybody calls it Academytown. It was begun at the end of the 50's near the city of Novosibirsk. Our maternal grandfather has told us a lot about the way it was planned and built, because he had been one of the first people to come and work here.
In the beginning, there was nothing but forest here. The planners actually counted every single tree before cutting some of them down and cleaning up the space for each building. Whenever possible, they had left the real forest trees standing. Today, when we play on our balcony at home, we can touch the branches of a huge pine-tree that's growing right near our house. Squirrels live in the tree, and we can see them play and chase each other, we also hear them chittering. We have a feeding-tray for them, and they come to us every morning for breakfast. A couple of woodpeckers come to peck at an old aspen-tree.
All the streets in our town are green in summer; the leaves turn brown, yellow and red in the Fall, but the pine-trees are always green. Huge heaps of snow pile up on the pines through the winter. If you are too close to a tree when all this snow falls, you may be buried in it! Some streets are alleys with pine-trees on the one side and birch-trees on the other side; some streets have rowan-trees and bird-cherry-trees. There are also trees and bushes whose names we couldn't find in any Russian-English dictionary, our teacher told us that they are to be found only in Russia.
One of the most beautiful places in town is called the Golden Valley. We know that the builders gave this name to the place in the Fall, when the leaves had changed from green to golden.
The Botanical Gardens are huge. Our friend's mother Dr. Olga Vasssilyeva works there. She has taken us on many excursions there and explained that many of the plants do not exist anywhere in Siberia, one can only see them in the Gardens. Many people like to walk around the Garden grounds, to watch the lakes and ponds. Nobody breaks any branches, there is no litter left among the trees. Squirrels and chipmunks, sparrows and many other birds come close to people to pick up crumbs. There are many places where you can see bird-feeders here.
Earlier, when the Botanical Garden first began to plant flowers outside, people used to dig out flocks, roses and little shrubs. They carried them away to their own gardens or vegetable patches, to grow for themselves. We asked Olga why the Garden people had not tried to stop the diggers. She told us, "We figured that soon there'd be enough flowers and shrubs for the people to begin exchanging among neighbors." She was right, nobody digs out any plants in the Botanical Garden grounds now.
Sometimes a curious sign appears near a part of the woods in town: "The woods are resting. Please do not walk here". It means that the paths have become too wide, and the botanists wish to shelter this part of the woods, to give it some time to become well again.
Our other grandfather had been the President of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy for many years. He traveled to many countries. He told us a lot about his theory of sustainable development. If one lake is polluted, all the fish, animals and birds in the area may die, the trees also perish, and men cannot live there anymore. It is easy to dirty a place - but often it is very difficult to clean it up. An artificial lake, which everybody calls the Ob Sea, was dug near Academytown. In the beginning it was clean, there was plenty of fish in it, and people liked to go fishing, boating and of course swimming and sun-bathing in summer. But many plants that were built nearby began to put their waste into the sea. The water became dirty and green with algae. The fish practically disappeared. The beach became dirty. Some years ago people began to clean up the place. Now it is much better, and not only fish but even crawfish came back.
We understand that everybody, even children, can do a lot to preserve the environment. Pollution can be stopped if people realize that they all need a nice clean planet to live on.