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: January 29

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 Much Public Space Does a City Need?
“How…

Open Voices News Roundup: January 22

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.
Big Park, Great City?
“You don’t have to look…

Open Voices News Roundup: January 8

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.
The Greening of a Suburban Downtown
“If planners for…

Open Voices News Roundup: December 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.
Land Trust Secures Vacant Lots for Urban Agriculture, Recreation…

Open Voices News Roundup: January 29

01/29/15 | 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.

How Much Public Space Does a City Need?

“How much of Manhattan is dedicated to public space? For starters, there’s Central Park, but the island’s oasis is only 1.3 square miles, 5.6 percent of the borough’s land area. You might remember those swaths of green way uptown, like Highbridge Park and Inwood Hill Park (the only natural forest left in Manhattan), but together they’re just another one-half square mile, accounting for a mere 2.1 percent. Add in all the well-worn parks from Marcus Garvey to Bryant, the slivers of open space along the rivers, privately-owned public spaces like Occupy’s Zuccotti Park, newfangled innovations like the High Line, and Janette Sadik-Khan’s pedestrian plazas. Maybe 15 percent at best? Guess again. When we think about public space, we picture parks and greenways, but overlook the largest single public space asset in any city’s rolls: streets. Include the pavement New Yorkers traverse every day in your public space calculation and the city’s most prosperous borough hits the magic proportion: 49 percent.”

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Shinrin Yoku

01/27/15 | 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. As you resolve to make your 2015 a spectacular year, we encourage you to spend more time outside for you and your family’s mental health and well-being.

 

This past year we have seen an awakening among many of the benefits of taking a simple walk through a forest. This relaxing activity is called Shinrin Yoku, Japanese for “forest bathing”. Have you heard about this? Do you think more people are becoming aware of the benefits of time spent in the outdoors?

As Spring begins to unfold, we encourage you to take a walk in a nearby forested area.

Breathe slowly, smell and see deliberately, walk purposefully.

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Open Voices News Roundup: January 22

01/22/15 | 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.

Big Park, Great City?

“You don’t have to look very far these days to see that we are in the midst of an urban park renaissance. Examples from all over the country are proving that parks can raise city profiles, stimulate development, increase property values, attract tourists and, most importantly, improve the quality of life for urban dwellers. Because of this, well-designed open space has become a must-have for cities striving to be considered world class. Big cities attract most of the attention for this, but medium-sized ones such as BirminghamSanta Fe, and Tulsa are making statements with new parks, as well. Now, thanks to a pending $52 million land deal, Raleigh, North Carolina may soon be added to this list. For it to succeed, however, the city needs to prove it has grown up and is ready to be more urban. It certainly has the potential to be a shining example of how to build a 21st century urban park, but it could just as easily become a cautionary tale.”

Walking is Going Places

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What do we need to be healthy?

01/20/15 | 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. As you resolve to make your 2015 a spectacular year, we encourage you to spend more time outside for you and your family’s mental health and well-being.

How does your neighborhood help you to be healthier? What would you change or add?

What do we need to be healthy? According to the World Health Organization, health is not simply an absence of disease or infirmity, but is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. In last week’s post, we jumped right into community green spaces and children’s health. But what do we know about designing healthy communities for all ages of people?

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Healthy Minds in 2015

01/13/15 | 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. As you resolve to make your 2015 a spectacular year, we encourage you to spend more time outside for you and your family’s mental health and well-being.

 

The mental and physical health of the children in your life is likely a top priority. When we talk about children and green spaces, we tend to think of planning and design for children as opportunities for running, jumping, swinging and climbing. Such gross motor activities are important to the physical health of children, but our mental health develops throughout childhood and life in subtler ways. Pause and think about when you were a child. Where did you play? How did you play? Do you remember picking up a small stick and discovering a world of tiny insects going about their day? Or spending an afternoon with your friends absorbed in a fantasy world built from imagination, found objects, and tall grass? Increasingly, child development researchers and playground designers are considering the interactions of natural objects and space, fine motor skills, and mental health. 1

Children in a Sensory Garden

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Open Voices News Roundup: January 8

01/08/15 | 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.

The Greening of a Suburban Downtown

“If planners for Bethesda, Maryland fully realize a conceptual vision now being offered to community leaders and the public, the once-quiet but now-bustling suburb’s downtown could become a nationally relevant example of urban sustainability. While the thinking is in its infancy, the Montgomery County Planning Department—under Maryland law, the county has legal authority—is considering a comprehensive green overhaul of Bethesda’s downtown plan, currently being updated by for the first time in twenty years. Particularly significant, in my opinion, would be two to three neighborhood-scaled “ecodistricts” within the downtown that would lead the way with showcase practices to accelerate and intensify environmental performance. The Department is being exceptionally cautious in stressing that for the moment its ideas are only conceptual and preliminary in nature, and will be subject to extensive review and refinement, but they point in the right direction.”

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Open Sacredness

12/30/14 | 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 a classic American sacred experience, we are suddenly aware of the grandness around us. The visceral attachment to a natural space is perhaps one way for people to experience a sense of connection to their community, or perhaps identity at the community scale. - Conversation with a friend of the TKF Foundation

As we end the year, take a moment to self-reflect on what sacredness means to you.

Hamilton Garden

Hamilton Garden

 

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 24

12/24/14 | 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.

Land Trust Secures Vacant Lots for Urban Agriculture, Recreation in LA’s Underserved Neighborhoods

“Founded in 2002, the LA Neighborhood Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that identifies underutilized space in a 475-square miles area in and around Los Angeles, and transforms it into green space for urban agriculture and community recreation projects. Real estate costs are high in Los Angeles, so the work of the Trust moves forward one small lot at a time…Since its inception, the Trust has fostered the development of 18 inner-city urban agriculture projects, with 11 projects in development. A recent projects include a food forest and community garden combination with child-centered programming in the unincorporated area of West Athens. The Trust hopes to build ten new urban green spaces in 2015.”

As Evidence Mounts, Drumbeat for Walkable Streets Grows

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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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TKF Foundation
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Annapolis, MD

Tel: 410.268.1376

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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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