Open Voices Blog

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 have such a short time on earth…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

02/05/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal located on the rooftop of the  American Psychological Association building in Washington, D.C. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

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Healthy Communities for You and Your Parents

02/02/16 | View Comments

Health is often believed to be the outcome of personal choices, such as one’s diet, whether to drink bottled water, or how often to exercise. Yet health officials now recognize that one’s surroundings, from home to neighborhood, are equally important in promoting health. Spending time with family and friends, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and living in a community with accessible paths to parks and gardens are essential to maintaining good health and a positive mindset.

Neighborhood design facilitates older people’s outdoor activities.

In interviews with elderly apartment residents, ‘satisfaction levels’ were significantly higher among residents whose apartments overlooked natural settings, and among those who lived closer to certain kinds of outdoor settings.1

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“As I walked they melted away.” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

01/29/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places at the Northeast Interfaith Peace Garden in Baltimore, Maryland. #Benchstories come from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.
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Celebrating Snow in all its Forms

01/26/16 | View Comments

Snow days stick in our memories and turn parking lots into community play zones. Images from this past weekend of deers in the streets of D.C., time-lapse videos of snow packed backyards, and children touching the snow for the first time are joyful reminders of our love of impromptu nature.

A Brooklyn child is inspired into a handstand. Source: Several Seconds

A Brooklyn child is inspired into a handstand. Source: Several Seconds

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“It is here where all can find the good.” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

01/22/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places at The League for People with Disabilities in Baltimore, Maryland. #Benchstories come from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

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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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