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: July 22

Posted on 07/22/13

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

The Bay Area’s Healthy Parks, Healthy People Movement
“Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP) is a national movement afoot in the Bay Area, bringing people out to the parks for a healthier lifestyle. Hoofing it in the parks can help people achieve their fitness goals as well as relax and improve their mental outlook. Spearheaded by the East Bay Regional Parks and the Institute at the Golden Gate, 26 agencies are part of HPHP Bay Area and include physicians and health care professionals…One of the benefits of Healthy Parks, Healthy People, along with healthier living, is developing a new appreciation for our local outdoor spaces.  This, in turn, could generate a new group of park supporters who advocate for preserving our nation’s natural resources.”

The Important Difference Between a Public Space and a ‘Common’
“In the environmental world, the “commons” generally refers to those tangible things in the natural world in which all of us – not just private parties – may have an interest… These interests are governed by our complex system of local, state and federal law. Note that, critically, a resource need not be publicly owned to be part of the commons: we all have an interest in the sustained production of well-managed forests and agriculture, for example, even though a vast portion of forestland and farmland may be privately owned…We must stop sprawling out and make better use of our existing developed places, especially by reinvesting in older city neighborhoods and taking advantage of opportunities to improve and complete sprawling, isolated newer suburbs with more walkable places.”

Walk for health and renewal
“More than 2000 years ago Plato and Aristotle taught philosophy while walking. This walk-and-talk kind of philosophical instruction was called “the peripatetic school,” as it was believed that walking served to purify the spirit and sharpen the mental facilities. For quite some decades now the medical profession has been advocating benefits of walking to improve physical health and as a preventive measure against sickness.”

The Littlest Parks Could Make the Biggest Civic Changes
“Eight years after the first “parklet” occupied a parking space in San Francisco as an act of protest, these mini-parks have become a favorite “placemaking” tool of urbanists across the country. A little wood platform, some sod, tables and chairs, and boom, you’ve got a new urban park — so long as you keep feeding the meter. San Francisco has a parklet program. It’s called “Pavement to Parks.” And with 40 parklets on the ground currently, and over 40 more in some stage of the permitting and development process, SF is leading the way on these little parking spot occupiers, and redefining what they can and should be.”

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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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