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: June 17

Posted on 06/17/13

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.

Can Restoring Rivers Revitalize Cities?
“The Grand River is Michigan’s longest river, stretching 252 miles from Lake Michigan to Hillsdale county, in the center of the state. It used to have rapids, but they were long gone by the early 1900s after the river was scraped and flattened so loggers could float timber better downstream. So Chris Muller (a real estate developer) and Chip Richards (a stay-at-home dad) started the Grand Rapids Whitewater non-profit to bring the rapids downstream again. The proposal calls for modifying five dams and installing boulders, as big as 10-feet wide, in the 2 1/2 mile stretch of river downtown…But what does whitewater rafting and kayaking have to do with economic development?”

Citizen Placemaker: Nathan Martin on Prototyping a [Semi-]Public Space
“In our Citizen Placemaker series, we chat with amazing and inspiring people from outside the architecture, planning, and government worlds (the more traditional haunts of Placemakers) whose work exemplifies how creating great places goes far beyond the physical spaces that make up our cities. The Bayardstown Social Club is a Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper outdoor space created in Pittsburgh’s Strip District by Deeplocal, a creative firm headquartered in the neighborhood. The space, a slightly-renovated vacant lot, is meant to act as a communal back yard for city-dwellers.”

The Outdoors Turn Out to Be Great for Blunting Chances of Nearsightedness in Children
“Children have long been encouraged to go outdoors to play — to improve their mood, get exercise and break the hypnotic spell of cell phones, television and video games. When they are outdoors, they are staying slim, savoring fresh air and daylight, and working off youthful energy, all to the benefit of their minds and bodies. But there’s another reason why children should replace time under a roof with time under the sky. Two studies published recently in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, say that time spent outdoors blunts the chances of children developing nearsightedness (myopia) and slows its progress in those with myopia.”

The Therapeutic Value of Nature
“This past Memorial Day weekend I was blessed to go on a spectacular 6 mile hike in the Mt. Charleston wilderness about 25 miles north of Las Vegas with my younger daughter and two friends. The trail we took began at an elevation of 8,600 feet and went up to 9,400 feet, alternately skirting mountain sides and immersing us in deep forest under a blanket of blue sky with a perfect juxtaposition of abundant warm sunshine and cool alpine air. It was just the treatment that, as Timothy Egan of the New York Times has characterized it, my ‘nature deficit disorder’ needed.”

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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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