Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "elders"

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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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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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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An Enabling Garden: An interview with Alicia Green of Chicago’s Botanic Garden

07/28/15 | View Comments

As you enter the Buehler Enabling Garden, you will delight in how enveloped and comfortable you feel. It is nestled on one of Chicago Botanic Garden’s nine interconnected islands totaling 385 acres and six miles of lake shoreline. The Enabling Garden itself consists of three interconnecting outside “rooms” enclosed by lattice walls and interlaced with flowers, vegetables and vines.

We recently talked with the coordinator for the Buehler Enabling Garden, Alicia Green. Alicia has a B.A. in biology from the University of Illinois with an emphasis in ornamental horticulture. She began her career at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2000 as the nursery grower and continued to gain experience in interior landscaping, exterior landscaping, high-end garden retail, and holiday design. She obtained a master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009 and is a national certified counselor as well as a registered horticultural therapist.

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Our Aging Cities, Our Aging Bodies

07/14/15 | View Comments

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 month we examine the health needs of older Americans and the array of healthy experiences found in Nature Sacred spaces.

Cultures over the past thousands of documented years (if not more!) incorporated gardens and trees in their origin stories or traveled to natural springs in search of health and healing.  Most of us deeply feel what some theorists call the theory of biophilia, the claim that humans have an innate affinity and need for contact with other living beings. If you are reading this, it is probably not news to you that green spaces in our urban neighborhoods are beneficial in many ways! An abundance of research over the past forty years provides evidence that spending time in metro green spaces can improve blood pressure, heart rate, stress hormone indicators (cortisol), white-blood cell count, attention, memory, mood, and self-esteem. For example, when humans garden our cognitive abilities improve, we experience pleasing sensory and aesthetic experiences and improved neural connections contributing to socio-emotional emotions. 1

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Supporting Elder Health in our Communities

07/07/15 | View Comments

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 month we examine the health needs of older Americans and the array of healthy experiences found in Nature Sacred spaces.

As the older U.S. adult population continues to increase and diversify, there is a need to provide various ways to understand and promote wellness. Eighty percent of our U.S. population live in cities and towns. As the population continues to concentrate in urban areas we must seriously consider the role of urban environments in our everyday health. For our older members of society, generally those 65 and older, the health benefits of urban green spaces can play a meaningful role in quality of life.

Never before have so many people lived for so long. Life expectancy has nearly doubled over the last century, and today there are 35 million Americans age 65 and older. The aging of the population—in past decades and in the foreseeable future—presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
— Director, National Institute on Aging

elder from ee paper

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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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