Open Voices Blog

News and conversations about the growing evidence of the healing power of nature and green development in cities

Open Voices News Roundup: February 24

Posted on 02/24/14

Every week, we bring you the latest news in placemaking, landscape architecture and urban planning, the nature-mental health link, and much more. Check back each week for new roundups and items.

How Cities are Becoming One With Nature

“Have you ever wondered why people always feel the need to ‘escape’ from it all and go on a trip into the wilderness? Of course, there are many different reasons why people take a vacation or do some traveling. Most of the time it is stress from work that finally pushes them out of the office and into the forest. But, besides the obvious job, family, and personal drivers, is there something more innate that makes us want to go back into nature? According to Harvard’s conservationist E.O. Wilson, there is.   Biophilia, a term popularized by Wilson, means that ‘humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life.’”

Healing Gardens
“Work. Money. Anxiety. Sickness. Are you feeling your stress levels rise? Are you developing a frown? Has your mood changed? These words represent some of the more difficult things in life that we face every day.  Sunshine. Autumn leaves. Falling water. Scented flowers. Now do you feel yourself start to relax? Is the buzz in your head slowing down? Are your shoulders releasing their tension?  Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as the elements of a garden can rapidly improve our mood and give us the inner strength to deal with the more difficult things in our day? Simply by taking those few moments out to regenerate and to heal, we feel that we can get back up and face the world.  Gardens have been used as a tool for healing for centuries. From ancient herbal remedies to 19th century sanatoriums to modern-day health retreats, historically we have ventured into nature to heal. Today, the garden is again becoming an integral part of the way we live and cope with our busy lives.”

Greenways: The New Front Porch
“You probably know green-space preservation has many benefits for cities. Cleaner water. Storm protection. Wildlife habitat. Cooler city temperatures. Improved public health.  But could conservation also help build friendlier communities?  ‘Isn’t it a glorious day?’ said the stylish, white-haired woman. True, the winter temperatures on this recent Saturday were still in the frosty 30s, but the sun had finally appeared, and the skies were a buoyant shade of blue. And we were experiencing it in nature, on our greenway. ‘I totally agree,’ I said. ‘In fact, I just texted a friend the same description—glorious!’  I had never met the woman before, but the spontaneous exchange didn’t surprise me. I have friendly little conversations like this on our greenway in Nashville all the time.  It’s not due to my charisma, I’m certain.  It’s the setting.”

From Coast to Coast, Landscape Architects Serve the Public
“The ASLA public awareness campaign launched the Year of Public Service (YPS)in 2013 for two reasons. First, the campaign encouraged ASLA members to ramp up existing pro-bono efforts. Second, ASLA wanted to highlight the great service projects already done by landscape architects across the country.  A year later, the YPS blog boasts nearly 50 projects, with more still trickling in. Just a few examples: in the past year, landscape architects have created a new scenic trail plan; designed a healing, sensory garden; built a butterfly and bird habitat; and launched a community space, all for deserving communities.”




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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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