Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "Development"

Nature and Cities: An Interview with Armando Carbonell

02/26/14 | View Comments

About half of the world’s population currently lives in urban regions, making the future of our cities a topic of high priority in terms of social and environmental issues. That’s why this weekend, some of the chief thought leaders in the fields of urban design, development and planning are convening in Austin, Texas, for the Nature and Cities conference. There, they’ll be discussing the integral relationship between nature and urban ecological design and planning.

Ecological understanding has taken a front seat in the world of urban planning, and the conference’s organizers hope to foster lively discussion around how nature and cities work together.

Open Voices spoke with with Armando Carbonell, one of the organizers of the conference and a Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, about his perspective on the interaction between nature and cities — as well as his hopes for the conference.

Armando Carbonell

Open Voices: For many, nature and the city seem to be opposing forces. How do you approach breaking down that concept as an urban planner?

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Recommended Reading: The Natural Way to Learn and Play

10/09/13 | View Comments

What preschool-aged child wouldn’t love to spend their school day climbing trees and playing in the dirt? Nature-based education allows for curriculum that supports those activities as well as positive emotional and cognitive development, reigniting the spark between youth and the natural world. And recently, there’s more research that suggests that children benefit both physically and mentally from playing in the outdoors and getting closer to nature, inspiring new-found interest in nature preschools like Drumlin Farm Community Preschool in Massachusetts.

Nature-based education has been fairly popular in Northern Europe for decades, but is picking up steam in the United States, especially with the rise in what journalist Richard Louv calls “nature-deficit disorder,” where lack of natural and outdoor play and exploration carries detrimental effects. The programs at many nature-based schools follow the interests of the students and allow for use of their imaginations to help develop problem-solving skills.

There are no concrete limits to learning, exploring and playing in nature, allowing children to engage in such a wide variety of activities, the positive effects of exposure to nature on their development has been supported over and over again.

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Open Voices News Roundup: June 24

06/24/13 | 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.

NatureSacred.org Announces Inaugural Six Grantees of the National Nature Sacred Awards Program
The TKF Foundation’s National Nature Sacred Awards Program has named the first six projects of national significance to share $4.5 million in funding to study the integration of landscape design and empirical research. The collection of exceptional spaces will demonstrate how nearby nature in the city can provide sacred and spiritual experiences. Each project will combine the creation of tranquil, restorative spaces in urban environments with rigorous study of their impact on users’ well-being and resilience.

Can Urban Planning Rescue Detroit?: The Hopes, Fears and Possibilities of the Detroit Future City Plan

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A Nature Place — Portland, OR: Quantifying Benefits of a Healing Garden among Hospital Populations

06/20/13 | View Comments

NSAwardsPoster_v9_QuantifyingBenefits (1) copy 2Six projects received this distinguished national award for researching the transformational power of nature in urban settings. Each project was chosen for combining the creation of tranquil, restorative spaces with rigorous study of their impact on users’ well-being and resilience. See the full list of projects here.  Print version of poster.  More A Nature Place team member interviews:  Dr. Alar Mirka, Dr. Roger Ulrich.

A preterm baby — a child born before 37 weeks of pregnancy — is at heightened risk of physical and developmental problems. The earlier the birth, the greater the risk.

And a mother’s stress is a significant contributor to preterm delivery.

Realizing this, Legacy Health is combining its traditional medical expertise with the healing power of open green spaces to create a four-season garden at the Family Birth Center and Cardiovascular Care Unit at its Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Patients and their families will be able to walk through and rest in the garden, adding to their peace of mind and rebuilding their strength. There will even be special equipment to make sure less-mobile patients — such as pregnant women on bed rest and patients with reduced mobility — can spend time outside.

“It’s a place you can use on your own, 24-7. Any time you want, you can gather your family out there,” said Teresia Hazen, MEd, HTR, GMHP, Coordinator of Therapeutic Gardens and Horticultural Therapy at Legacy. “It could be the first time that nine children come and see Grandpa, who’s waiting for a heart transplant.”

Legacy Health is a non-profit health system with six hospitals serving the Portland, Oregon, community and the hospital is one of only two Level 1 Trauma Centers in the state.

The goal of the healing garden is to give patients a much-needed place that speaks to their psychological, physical and spiritual needs, while also giving the hospital the opportunity to study and quantify the benefits that open green spaces can have on patients, their families and even health care professionals under stress.

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Open Voices News Roundup: June 10

06/10/13 | 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.

Is Our Disconnect From Nature a Disorder?
“Somewhere during the American experience, between Teddy Roosevelt and color TV, being outdoors and maybe even working up a sweat started to lose its universal appeal. There remain those who fetishize the outdoors, from Ted Nugent to REI shoppers, and the urge to connect with nature never vanished. But as Americans became more urban and more cocooned in their cars and air conditioning, the values of nature were honored more by their absence than in their activities.”

Pictures: Green Walls May Cut Pollution in Cities
“A living wall bursts with vegetation at Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly — a type of green wall that’s catching on in some big cities. These vegetated surfaces don’t just look pretty. They have other benefits as well, including cooling city blocks, reducing loud noises, and improving a building’s energy efficiency. (See a complete list of green wall benefits.) What’s more, a recent modeling study shows that green walls can potentially reduce large amounts of air pollution in what’s called a “street canyon,” or the corridor between tall buildings.”

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Recommended Reading: Maryland’s Commitment to Urban, Rural Forests

06/04/13 | View Comments

Recent legislation has demonstrated the state of Maryland’s commitment to “no net loss” of its urban and rural forests, according to an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun.

“With this safeguard in place, we can be confident that Maryland’s air will be cleaner, our native wildlife habitats will be richer, and the Chesapeake Bay will be healthier and more productive than they possibly could have been if we had failed to act,” wrote Jacqueline M. Carrera and Erik M. Dihle.

This dedication to preserving the state’s natural beauty was possible in part because of policymakers who realized that forests — and nature settings, in general — are just as important in cities as they are in rural areas. Not only do they provide residents natural spaces where residents can ease their stress, improve their mental health and get exercise, but they can also reduce energy costs, increase home values and reverse the effects of climate change.

In Maryland, Baltimore City helping to lead the pro-greenspace charge. The city is currently working to follow through on then-Mayor Martin O’Malley’s pledge to double the city’s tree canopy to 40 percent by 2037. The number currently stands at 27 percent.

>> Read the full story at The Baltimore Sun

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Open Voices News Roundup: June 3

06/03/13 | 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.

Green Spaces Promote Happier Communities
“A better mood might be as easy as a walk in the park. Literally. Because people living near parks or gardens seem to have a leg up. UK researchers analyzed data from a national survey of more than 10,000 people between 1991 through to 2008. They found that those who live in green areas have higher life satisfaction and less depression and stress than others who live in more concrete-dense areas with few trees and lawns.”

The Effect of Urban Green Spaces on Wellbeing is Comparable to Employment and Marriage
“A walk in the park might cure your fuzzy brain, but urban green spaces in general seem to have a big impact on the overall mental wellbeing of those who live nearby. At least, that’s what a recent long-term study by the University of Exeter shows. The researchers have analyzed data from 5,000 UK households (around 12,000 individuals) gathered between 1991-2008, and they found that people are happier when living in urban areas with greater amounts of green space.”

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Open Voices News Roundup: April 30

04/30/13 | 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.

Tune Up Your Immune System in the Garden
Sure, a backyard garden is a place of beauty, an attraction for birds, insects, and wildlife, and a personalized market for the most local produce imaginable, but did you know that your garden can also tune up your immune system, ward off depression, and even make you smarter? It’s been nearly 25 years since Dr. David Strachan first proposed the Hygiene Hypothesis, linking skyrocketing incidences of immune system disorders like allergies and asthma to the hyper-clean environments that people in the developed world inhabited in the second half of the 20th century.

Community Wisdom + Expert Knowledge = Good Community Design

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Open Voices News Roundup: April 22

04/22/13 | 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.

Can America’s Greenest City Also Be a Shale Oil Powerhouse?
The evidence of Philadelphia’s not-too-distant past as an industrial powerhouse is apparent to anyone who drives by its 14,000-acre oil refinery on the banks of the Schuylkill River. Less than a year ago, this sprawling complex, the oldest continuously running refinery in the country, was on the verge of shutting down. Now, it sees future promise in a recent shale gas boom in Southeastern Pennsylvania. But the city’s manufacturing heyday is long gone, as the main drivers of the local economy now lie in education and medicine, while Mayor Michael Nutter has implemented the ambitious Greenworks plan in an effort to make Philly the greenest city in America.

Ten Ways to Transform Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces

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Recommended Reading: Coverage of the 2013 APA National Planning Conference

04/18/13 | View Comments

Jonathan Nettler of Planetizen has been following the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference closely. The annual event has brought together experts from across the country, who all came to Chicago to discuss the present and future of how we lay out the world in which we live.

Here are just a couple of the highlights:

  • Outgoing APA President Mitchell Silver addressed the need to emphasize return on investment (ROI) in making the argument for leveraging the existing infrastructure of urban environments to generate economic development and tax revenues, versus throwing good money after bad into the ponzi scheme that is sprawl-based development. Nettler also took the opportunity to touch on how the built environment can affect health, and the importance of utilizing open spaces to help keep health care costs down.
  • Eugenie Birch, FAICP, Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke at the session on “Emerging Trends & The Future of Planning.” She covered her task force findings on the issues and trends that planners currently face, as well as what U.S. planners can expect going forward. Among them are declining infrastructure, a growing labor force in need of jobs and an ever-aging population.

 

Go here for Nettler’s complete coverage of this year’s conference.

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