Open Voices Blog

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

An Experience Within Green Infrastructure

03/22/16 | View Comments

This month we’ve briefly reviewed the shifts in large-scale urban infrastructure design. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) in the 19th and early 20th century enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development.

Today, cities across the globe are embracing ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ infrastructure initiatives to re-design failing, ‘grey’ engineered systems. Many are embracing innovations that sidestep an old structure entirely. For example, Vietnam, a country of coastal views, aims to join global “Green Cities” such as Stockholm and Singapore, by implementing large scale urban changes in three cities in the northern and central provinces. To become a Green City, standards of green space, constructions, transport and industry are met.

Green infrastructure can serve multiple functions, including public health.

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Language and confusion is only a barrier…. #Benchstories #Naturesacred

03/18/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

AVAM 3-18

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“Only time will tell and I have a lot of that…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

03/10/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Western-Correctional-3-19-16

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Overlapping Benefits of Green Infrastructure

03/08/16 | View Comments

Urban greening initiatives are in operation or in development around the globe. In a roundtable this past week from Nature of Cities, David Maddox reminds us “…The word landscape conveys a richer meaning that includes, of course, the aesthetics of nature and the out of doors, but also the organization and design or infrastructure, the biophysical and social services of ecosystems, the livability of communities, and the justice aspects of how our living environments are (or are not) democratically decided upon and created.”

Last week we briefly reviewed the history of the physical implementation of U.S. urban infrastructure. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development. Although hinted, we didn’t delve into the social or non-human benefits from infrastructure development. But one doesn’t need to search far to learn how sanitary systems dramatically changed the lives of urban dwellers.

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“A soft kiss to the history of what we are…” #Benchstories “Naturesacred

03/04/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the Baltimore Clayworks in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Balt-clayworks-1-13

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A Brief History of Urban Infrastructure

03/01/16 | View Comments

Grey Infrastructure

In the mid-19th century the “sanitary idea”, proposed by Edwin Chadwick in England, stressed the importance of the physical environment and the role of decaying organic matter as the source of disease. Sanitary engineering solutions emerged, focused on rapid and efficient disposal of urban wastes and providing clean water.

A New York sanitation worker in the 19th century. Source.

A New York City sanitation worker in the 19th century. Source.

What we now call Grey Infrastructure emerged during the 19th century alongside industrialization in many parts of the world.

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Uncover Place through Co-design: Interview with Dr. Katherine Brookfield and Iain Scott

02/23/16 | View Comments

“…in each of the cities we worked, they were kind of broken places. Old and abandoned buildings or, structures being used in a different way than when first built. Canals and viaducts that are now largely obsolete. Abandoned infrastructure. Places that are forgotten and not safe. The older people we worked with in these places were certainly concerned about safety but also valued more these older, forgotten aspects of the city. They said things like , ‘My uncle worked in that building 50 years ago… I remember my father telling me what he did there…’ They were attached to these objects. They had personal memories in these places that carried great personal weight.” – Iain Scott, describing an elder-led walking tour in a UK co-design project

Photos from one strand of the MMP project. Source.

Photos from one strand of the MMP project. Source.

How can we design places that are enjoyable to be in and easy to move around in when we are older?

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“Go without hate…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

02/19/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places at UMBC: Joseph Beuys Sculpture & Rock Garden. #Benchstories come from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Bench-Story-Bueys-2-19

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“I’ve never felt happiness like that.” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

02/12/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore, Maryland. #Benchstories come from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Franklin-2-12

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Design and Fund Accessible Gardens

02/09/16 | View Comments

Landscape architects incorporate Universal Design Principles into spaces to allow inclusive, accessible use. Adequate shade areas, seating, and easy to maneuver paths are some of the key elements of thoughtfully designed gardens. Community garden leaders, Firesouls, and others who may not have a design degree can create inclusive spaces using found materials and easily implemented ideas. Tailoring spaces according to community needs is essential.

Accessible garden 'A Wider Circle' soon after installation of shade trellis and smooth paths.

A Wider Circle, an accessible garden in a D.C. public housing residence soon after a TKF grant supported the installation of plants, a shade trellis and smooth paths.

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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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