Open Voices Blog

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

Open Voices News Roundup: February 24

02/24/14 | 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.

How Cities are Becoming One With Nature

“Have you ever wondered why people always feel the need to ‘escape’ from it all and go on a trip into the wilderness? Of course, there are many different reasons why people take a vacation or do some traveling. Most of the time it is stress from work that finally pushes them out of the office and into the forest. But, besides the obvious job, family, and personal drivers, is there something more innate that makes us want to go back into nature? According to Harvard’s conservationist E.O. Wilson, there is.   Biophilia, a term popularized by Wilson, means that ‘humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life.’”

Healing Gardens

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Friday Flower: Name This Bloom!

02/21/14 | View Comments

Every Friday we publish a new Friday Flower.   We ask our readers, as a game, to identify this flower.   Here’s today’s photo — full of striking waxy fruits — anybody know what it is?  (And guess more Friday Flowers here.)

Eastern Red Cedar

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Open Voices News Roundup: February 18

02/18/14 | View Comments

Every week, we bring you the latest news in placemaking, landscape architecture, the nature-mental health link, and much more. Check back each week for new roundups and items.

Cities and Their Psychology:  How Neuroscience Affects Urban Planning
“More than 30 years ago, the pioneering urbanist William Whyte was charged by the city of New York with the task of unraveling the mysteries of public space. Why do some such spaces attract crowds of happy visitors whilst others sit barren and empty?  Whyte’s research programme, conducted with stopwatches, time-lapse videography, and lots of simple paper charts, was a spectacular success…Fast forward a few decades, and many things have changed…What has changed dramatically is the set of tools that are available to those who would understand the detailed workings of the urban realm. Now we can go well beyond simple observations of the overt behaviour of city dwellers. We can look inside the bodies and minds of those who inhabit urban spaces. We can measure their gaze, their beating hearts, and the state of their autonomic nervous systems as they react to arousing and stressful events.”

Urban Greenspace Enables Unexpected Biodiversity

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Friday Flower: Name This Bloom!

02/14/14 | View Comments

Every Friday we publish a new Friday Flower.   We ask our readers, as a game, to identify this flower.  Bonus points this week if you know the Latin genus and species of this spring beauty.  Here’s today’s photo — anybody know what it is?  (And guess more Friday Flowers here.)

N_poeticus

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Dan Kiley: Reconnecting Human Beings to Their Space on Their Land

02/13/14 | View Comments

We recently enjoyed viewing the touring Dan Kiley tribute now running at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. Presented through the voices of those he collaborated with, whether as professional colleagues or clients, the retrospective exhibit curated by TCLF.org captures the quintessential design qualities of Kiley, the modernist master inspired by Le Notre, and offers deeper insight into Kiley’s motivation and inspiration.

Known for his modern interpretations of such classical elements as allees, bosques and grid patterns, Kiley’s landscapes are further distinguished by his tightly controlled plant palate and bold, geographic hardscapes.  The result is a “coherent, restful landscape,” notes Henry Arnold.  Kiley’s places of retreat “raise people’s level of consciousness and heighten the awareness of the unity of man and nature,” comments Peter Ker Walker, evidence of Kiley’s able use of “design as a process of discovery.”

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Open Voices News Roundup: February 10

02/10/14 | View Comments

Every week, we bring you the latest news in placemaking, landscape architecture, the nature-mental health link, and much more. Check back each week for new roundups and items.

Stayin’ Alive:  The Life and Death Prospects of Community Ties
“As urbanists, we know that our innate desire to feel connected is nothing trivial. In fact, it’s so important that it’s actually embedded in the built form of the traditional city. Not to say or even imply that such town-building patterns create community but, rather, that they foster it. They make community easier.  But so what? Is community in our present age so important that these patterns of city-making are worth restoring? Why not just lump it in with petticoats and Edsels and all manner of other old-timey things of no modern relevance and move on to the ever-pending promise of isolated splendor?…The answer…that warm, fuzzy feeling we get when connected to our neighbors is nice, but it’s not the real point. It’s just a by-product of what community is really about: Staying alive.”

The Emergence of Nature Phobias:  Why More People Are Afraid of the Outdoors

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Friday Flower: Name This Bloom!

02/07/14 | View Comments

Every Friday we publish a new Friday Flower.   We ask our readers, as a game, to identify this flower.  The forest floor is beginning to stir where we are – these late winter flowers are a great source of pollen.  Here’s today’s photo — anybody know what it is?  (And guess more Friday Flowers here.)

Winter aconite

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Illumination! – Along the Green Road Project: Measuring the healing effect of nature on Wounded Warriors

02/06/14 | View Comments

The team at the Green Road Project recently joined together to raise a cup of cheer in an expression of thanks to all who have made the project possible.  Anxiously anticipating the spring groundbreaking for the new healing garden space, winter weather did not curtail the celebration as supporters arrived amidst sparkling lights to the woodland setting which is at the heart of Naval Support Activity Bethesda, home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

GRI_0020

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Open Voices News Roundup: February 3

02/03/14 | View Comments

Every week, we bring you the latest news in placemaking, landscape architecture, the nature-mental health link, and much more. This week with a decidedly international focus!  Check back each week for new roundups and items.

In Mexico, A City’s Scar Becomes its Most Prized Park
“Jessica Lopez, a four-year old with a shy smile, has suffered severe chronic asthma attacks since she was born. Her condition always worsened in the fall, when dust rose up from the abandoned fields that bordered her family’s modest one-room house.  Last year, city officials here turned those dusty fields near Jessica’s house into a gleaming park with trails, playgrounds and shaded pavilions. Then in the fall, something remarkable happened in the Lopez home: Jessica’s asthma attacks did not come.”

This Enormous Moscow Park Used to be a Four-Lane Highway
“Moscow doesn’t have a reputation as a walkable city; the main street leading away from the Kremlin and Red Square is a sprawling eight lane road, and if pedestrians want to cross, they have to walk underground. But the city is starting to change. Last year, another large highway–this one four lanes wide, running along a river near the city center–was turned into a park.”

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Friday Flower: Name This Bloom!

01/31/14 | View Comments

Every Friday we publish a new Friday Flower.  This week we continue our theme of color and interest in the winter landscape.  We ask our readers, as a game, to identify this bountiful seedhead, a welcomed treat for this sparrow.  Here’s today’s photo — anybody know what it is? (And guess more Friday Flowers here.)

bird

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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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