Open Voices Blog

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

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 18

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.
A Playful Plaza: Bringing Imagination and New Life to…

Open Voices News Roundup: December 11

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.
Walkability Is Good for You
“Ever since Jane Jacobs’…

Open Voices News Roundup: December 4

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.
‘Food Innovation District’ Plan Could Bring Indoor Market to…

Open Voices News Roundup: November 26

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.
Walkability, Quality Public Spaces Can Be Created in Communities…

Open Voices News Roundup: December 18

12/18/14 | View Comments

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.

A Playful Plaza: Bringing Imagination and New Life to Downtown Providence

“Every Thursday in the summer, at about 9am, the Downtown Providence Park Conservancy (DPPC) crew gathers and prepares for the long day ahead—nine non-stop hours of family programming in Burnside Park. On one edge of the park, The O’Crepe food truck is already open for business as Jennifer Smith and her team of interns and volunteers unlock the doors of the Imagination Center and start moving colorful equipment out into the park. Folding tables, stools, and art supplies head to one area for Art in the Park, as jumbo beanbags, colorful benches, and a sound system head to another for Storytime. Book carts filled with the work of local authors and illustrators roll out onto the Imagination Center deck to create an outdoor reading room.’”

The 10 Most Livable Global Cities For Balancing Work And Play

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A Meditative Space for a Seattle Community

12/16/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we introduce sacred spaces that serve as centers for community; spaces to experience the “civic sacred”.

A meditative moment in a walking labyrinth can bring a surprising amount of peace. A walking labyrinth is a circular path, usually set in stone on the ground, that doubles back on itself and leads to a center point. The history of these designs reach back 4000 years ago to Greece and are known to exist in diverse cultures throughout time. The use of these designs as a meditative practice exist in Christian culture, but other religions and secular groups have used them for centuries to contemplate personal truths.

A labyrinth nestled under gigantic trees in Seattle's oldest park.

A labyrinth nestled under gigantic trees in Seattle’s oldest park.

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 11

12/11/14 | View Comments

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.

Walkability Is Good for You

“Ever since Jane Jacobs’ classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urbanists have extolled the ideal of the dense, mixed-used, walkable neighborhood, contrasting it with the dull and deadly cul-de-sacs of car-oriented suburbs. If walkability has long been an “ideal,” a recent slew of studies provide increasingly compelling evidence of the positive effects of walkable neighborhoods on everything from housing values to crime and health, to creativity and more democratic cities. A key research advance has been the development of the Walk Score metric (we have written about it here before), which provides a baseline measure for walkable communities. Walk Score uses data from Google, OpenStreetMap and the U.S. Census to assign any address a walkability ranking from zero to 100 based on a its pedestrian friendliness and distance to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, public transit, and the like.’”

New San Diego Park Reconnects City and Waterfront

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Sacred in the Public Realm

12/09/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we introduce sacred spaces that serve as centers for community; spaces to experience the “civic sacred”. 

In the past few decades a surge of scientific research provides evidence connecting human health with the experience of nearby nature in cities. The experience of “being in nature”, personal and deeply felt, commonly evokes feelings of transformation and contemplation. Literature and traditions recount the importance of nature in personal realizations of inspiration, deeper connections, mindfulness, and extended social connections. This personal experience is historically described as “sacred”.

(Photo Credit: TKF Foundation)

 

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 4

12/04/14 | View Comments

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.

‘Food Innovation District’ Plan Could Bring Indoor Market to Downtown Holland

“Holland’s ‘Western Gateway’ could become a center of food innovation under a new plan released by the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design and Construction. The collaborative plan calls for an indoor market to supplement the popular existing Holland Farmers Market, community gardens and an incubator for new food businesses. It could become a ‘corridor for housing, recreation and commerce,’ according to the report. ‘This is such an important piece of our downtown,’ said Dana Kollewehr, downtown manager for the city of Holland. ‘Over the years, we looked at a variety of ways to connect these areas of the city, and this PlacePlan brings those ideas together and gives us focus and viable options about how to increase walkability in this part of downtown. … We’re hopeful that we can start to see some of these projects pop up in the next year to year in a half, so that’s very exciting for our community and residents.’”

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 26

11/26/14 | View Comments

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.

Walkability, Quality Public Spaces Can Be Created in Communities of Any Size

“Communities of any size can create celebrated public spaces. I know it’s true because I’ve seen it first hand – this month I had the pleasure of participating in the recent Smart Growth Tour put on by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. During this tour, I got to explore some of Colorado’s Front Range communities that have made major investments to become more walkable and livable…Walkability isn’t a rural versus urban issue – wherever vehicle speeds are high, wherever we don’t see other people walking, wherever the buildings all look the same – there is a starkness that detracts from the community. This can happen anywhere.  And no matter how small your community, you can afford to address the problem. In fact, you can’t afford not to.”

From Vacant Lot to Garden Spot: LA-Based Nonprofit Greens Up Blighted Land

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Thankful for Smart Environments

11/25/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This November we share in recognition of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

A couple of years ago we talked with Tim Beatley, founder of the Biophilic Cities Project, about his aims to explore innovative ways cities can incorporate nature into design and planning. This project is devoted to understanding how cities can become more biophilic, more full of nature, and to telling the stories of the places and people working to creatively build these urban-nature connections. As the site notes:

We need nature in our lives more than ever today, and as more of us are living in cities it must be urban nature. Biophilic Cities are cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world. Nature is not something optional, but absolutely essential to living a happy, healthy and meaningful life.

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 20

11/20/14 | View Comments

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.

Mayors Get It: Parks Are Problem-Solvers

“Ask Fort Worth Mayor Betsey Price about parks, and she’ll tell it to you straight: ‘Great cities all have strong parks. If you look at some of our European model cities, it you look at some of our Asian cities, they all have strong parks,’ she says. ‘In the end, for cities to be very vibrant and very strong, citizens have to be engaged. They have to know each other. They have to know a little bit about their city. They have to know their elected officials. There’s no better place to do that than get people out in a green space, on a trail, along the river, wherever it might be.’ Last December, Price teamed up with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the City Parks Alliance to raise awareness about the necessity of strong urban park systems.”

Partners in Place: Common Ground from Allies in the Placemaking Leadership Council

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Designing for Health

11/18/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This November we share in recognition of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Recently, researchers and landscape architects collaborating in TKF’s Nature Sacred Award program met for a multi-day meeting. The convening coalesced into an impromptu group discussion about how to encourage more evidence-based landscape design. How can landscape architecture firms include more scientists and health practitioners in their teams? Or, how do we promote healthcare design standards that practically meet user needs?

The Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden, Cleveland Botanical Garden

Path gradients were carefully calculated to minimize fatigue and to provide subtle places to pause and rest, enjoy a fragrance or admire a focal point. Photo: ASLA

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 13

11/13/14 | View Comments

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.

Parks: In a Golden Age…Without Two Nickels?

“It has been a good couple of weeks for news about city parks. Many of them have been featured in the press with a focus on the value they bring to cities. Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre deck park built over a recessed freeway in Texas, was awarded the 2014 ULI Urban Open Space Award for bridging the downtown Dallas cultural district with burgeoning mixed-use neighborhoods, “…reshaping the city and catalyzing economic development.” Klyde Warren Park is expected to generate $312.7 million in economic development and $12.7 million in tax revenue for the city of Dallas. At the Philly Parks Future Forum, park experts from five city agencies – Seattle, New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Chicago – gathered to talk about characteristics of good city parks departments. Presented by the City Parks Alliance, the forum was focused on how city parks are one of the greatest assets to the country and how they are progressing nationally.”

The Economic Case for a New Chicago Area Trail

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TKF Foundation
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We are a private nonprofit that funds publicly accessible urban green space. We believe that everyone needs to “be in nature” as nature both heals and unifies us. The Foundation partners with organizations to create Open Spaces Sacred Places, which increase a sense of community and contribute to a deepening of human connections. These sacred places reawaken and reaffirm the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing.

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