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: June 24

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.
Living on the Edge
“Everyone wants to live next…

Open Voices News Roundup: June 16

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.
Nature Is But Another Name for Health
“’We are…

New Open Space Sacred Place Dedicated in Joplin MO

The Butterfly Garden and Overlook at Cunningham Park in Joplin, MO, is an Open Space Sacred Place where individuals may work through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost.  Conceived as a place of healing in…

Open Voices News Roundup: May 27

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.
Doctors Prescribing Time Outside
“Washington, DC-based pediatrician Robert Zarr …

Open Voices News Roundup: June 24

06/24/14 | 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.

Living on the Edge
“Everyone wants to live next to a park.  Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and his civic patrons knew this early on. Olmsted also saw it as the landscape architect’s duty to carefully orchestrate the relationship between what he termed the “main park” and the “outer park,” thus the adoption of generous setbacks, for example, along the edge of New York’s Central Park from the contiguous high-rise development.”

Does Beauty Still Matter?
“There was a time, not too long ago, when the quality of urban landscapes was determined by what they looked like and what it was like to be in them. Their ecological and human health benefits were well known, but these were seen mainly as positive by-products of what was more important: improving the quality of life for people living in cities by providing them with access to nature, or at least some semblance of it. The desire for urban parks was rooted in a simple, yet deep appreciation for the beauty of landscape.”

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What’s Happening?

06/19/14 | View Comments

A snapshot of upcoming events where you can enjoy the benefits associated with experiencing nearby nature in cities.

jens movie

Jens Jensen Movie:  The Living Green
“Today four out of five Americans live in cities. Yet the connection between the urban experience and the physical and emotional need for city and national parks is only just beginning to be made. A century ago, a rebellious Dane, JENS JENSEN (1860 – 1951), rose from street sweeper to ‘dean of landscape architects’ to pioneering conservationist when he risked his career to stand-up to Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan whose steel mills threatened to industrialize the entire Indiana shoreline.”

When:  Tonight!
Where:  Chicago’s Millennium Park – FREE

Green City Teachers Summer Training

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Open Voices News Roundup: June 16

06/16/14 | 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.

Nature Is But Another Name for Health
“’We are trying to figure out precisely what types of nature provide the most health benefits,’ said William Sullivan, ASLA, a landscape architecture professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, at the Environmental Design Research Assocation (EDRA) conference in New Orleans. The eventual goal is to be able to prescribe doses of nature, or specific activities in nature, to help with a range of illnesses.  ’But today — although we have good evidence that exposure to green landscapes is good for you — we can’t say if you design something this way, people will live four years longer.’”

How Can We Design A Better Hospital?

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What’s Happening?

06/13/14 | View Comments

A snapshot of upcoming events where you can enjoy the benefits associated with experiencing nearby nature in cities.

Pollinator Week
“Seven years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.  Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.”

When:  June 16 – 22, 2014
Where:  find an event near you!

Baltimore Growing Green Competition

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Open Voices News Roundup: June 2

06/02/14 | View Comments

Urban Green Space for Mental Wellness
“A holistic, optimistic approach to health supports productive individuals, and livable communities where people can thrive. Health is not simply an absence of disease or infirmity, but is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Wholesome living environments integrate the opportunities of built, social, natural, and (increasingly) online components to help people be at their best. One important aspect of health – mental function and wellness – is not only the outcome of personal and lifestyle situations, but is highly dependent on the natural and built environments that surround a person.”

The Doctor’s Order? Spend More Time in Nature
“Park Rx aims to substitute outdoors time for medical treatment.  We’ve all fallen victim to spending too much time cooped up inside, hunched over computers and binge-watching television shows. So in an effort to curb those nasty habits and get young people moving, one innovative Washington, D.C., doctor is teaming up with the National Parks Service to treat sickness with sunshine.”

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What’s Happening?

05/30/14 | View Comments

A snapshot of upcoming events where you can enjoy the benefits associated with experiencing nearby nature in cities.

buffalo

CNU 22: The Resilient Community
“The annual Congress for the New Urbanism is the leading venue for new urbanist networking, collaboration, and education. CNU members come from far and wide to discuss development practices and public policies, learn from recent innovative work, and advance new initiatives to transform our communities. Join us in Buffalo, New York – the city Frederick Law Olmsted deemed “the best planned city in the United States, if not the world” – and be a part of CNU 22.”

When:  June 4-7, 2014
Where:  Buffalo, NY

National Trails Day
“American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is the country’s largest celebration of trails. Mark your 2014 calendar for Saturday, June 7 to prepare for this year’s big celebration.   National Trails Day events include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.”

When:  June 7, 2014

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New Open Space Sacred Place Dedicated in Joplin MO

05/29/14 | View Comments

Butterfly2

The Butterfly Garden and Overlook at Cunningham Park in Joplin, MO, is an Open Space Sacred Place where individuals may work through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost.  Conceived as a place of healing in response to the devastating tornado of May 2011 killing 161 people, the garden gives form to the Four Tasks which help people move into the next phase of life after experiencing a loss, and each are represented as architectural and natural elements through the gardens.

  • The first task, “Accepting the Reality of Loss,” begins as visitors pass through the portal of the lost home, the front door.
  • The path takes you on a journey around the site, allowing for Task Two “Processing the Pain of Grief.”  Areas with a bench and journal act as destinations and offer a sacred space in nature to move towards
  • Task Three, “Adjust to a World without What was Lost.”  Visitors are encouraged to write and reflect in the journals.
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Open Voices News Roundup: May 27

05/27/14 | 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.

Doctors Prescribing Time Outside

“Washington, DC-based pediatrician Robert Zarr is lending new meaning to ‘giving someone her walking papers.’  In 2011, the National Park Service conceptualized Healthy Parks Healthy People, an initiative to increase park visitation and good health. Zarr, a nature lover who had been reading about the theory of nature deficit disorder, took the NPS’s idea and ran with it.  In July 2013, Zarr became the foremost advocate of the program when he launched Park Rx, an NPS-helmed medical program through which doctors “prescribe” patients nature at Unity Health Care. That means prescribing time outside—and not just in any outdoor place, but in places patients are most likely to follow through on those prescriptions.”

Beyond the Harvest: Five Ways Gardens Support Your Health

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What’s Happening?

05/22/14 | View Comments

A snapshot of upcoming events focused on the benefits associated with experiencing nearby nature in cities.

column-install-small

Hands-On Helping:  Summer Build
Pomegranate Center helps shape resilient, collaborative communities.   Join them in Prescott, a small town near Walla Walla, WA. Together with the community, they will be transforming a small burned out lot into a beautiful gathering place. The design features reclaimed materials from nearby farms, a stage, lighting, windbreaks, gateways, banners, tables, seating, and many garden spaces.  They are looking for skilled craftspeople, enthusiastic DIY-ers, and weekend warriors to join the team for some sweating, art-making and old-fashioned barn raising fun.  The deadline to apply is May 28, 2014.  Click here to register.

When:  June 19-22nd
Where:  Prescott, WA

Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Shaw Nature Reserve

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Evidence of Nature Benefits for Mental Wellness #3

05/20/14 | View Comments

Every individual can cope with the normal stresses of life.

Mental Wellness FINAL 3

 

“Stress response is triggered by the physical elements of our surroundings, by unpleasant social interactions, or by a perception of something threatening or fearful. When stressed one’s body releases hormones, such as cortisol, that trigger an inner ‘fight or flight’ response. Frequent stress response can fatigue the immune system, and negatively affect other health responses. Researchers typically describe stress in two ways: acute and chronic stress. Acute stress plays an evolutionary and survival role, occurs less often, and is in response to an alarming or traumatic event (such as loss of a job or death of a loved one). Chronic stress occurs when one experiences an ongoing stressor (such as daily freeway commuting, or work demands), leading to a heightened and nearly constant physiological response. Chronic stress is now more often studied because it is the type of stress most likely experienced by urban dwellers, and is an alarming public health threat. One can reduce or eliminate stressors, avoid situations that are triggers, or develop the mindfulness to cope with challenge. Studies suggest that nearby nature experiences in cities can be a helpful buffer.

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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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