Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "Health"

Holistic Care on The Green Road

09/20/16 | View Comments

The grocery store, your city buildings, the trees lining the main street in your neighborhood, the leaves in your driveway. The role of these everyday physical spaces and places are often taken for granted. Yet, by now we’ve established that an environment can support health and healing, or hinder it. The most straightforward example, of course, could be the hospital. For hundreds of years humans have built and cultivated complex environments intended to support healing. The design of healing spaces has changed throughout history, often according to values, beliefs, scientific knowledge, and technology.

Early temples dedicated to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, were built in pastoral settings with mineral springs, bathing pools, gymnasiums, and healing gardens.

Dedicated temples can be seen today in the Greek countryside of the once city-state of Epidaurus. This World Heritage Site dates from the 4th century BCE and is a remarkable example of design devoted to healing. Here people would come to worship, lodge, recreate, and heal. The use of a garden or hot springs as a healing place is also evident in other early Asian and Roman cultures.

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Youth Health and Nature

07/05/16 | View Comments

This month consists of an exciting repertoire of respected scientists casting their vote in favor of nature engagement.

In an increasingly urbanized planet, close and consistent connection to nature has become rare in many places. Millions of people spend hours working indoors, driving or riding public transportation. In order to minimize unsustainable urban sprawl, cities have become increasingly dense, with living and working spaces layered on top of each other and encroaching on parks and other green spaces.

 “We want to reimagine cities as places of nature. There is already so much nature in cities – trees, birds, parks, aquatic habitats – but there is a lot more we can do to understand, protect and care about that.” – Tim Beatley, University of Virginia.
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How to Add Nature to Your Work

11/10/15 | View Comments

There is a good chance you spent the majority of your day today in an indoor work environment. For many, this means you are indoors with limited access to natural light, fresh air, or window views. In a global report on workplace environments in 16 countries, 42% of 7600 employees had live plants in the office but 47% had no natural light. A fifth of these respondents reported having no natural elements in their office at all.


A common hypothesis used by business leaders and supported by research is that those who are more satisfied in their jobs are also more productive and more engaged employees. There is evidence that higher subjective wellbeing and job satisfaction at work are positively related to job performance, productivity, and organisational citizenship (e.g. being cooperative, friendly and trustworthy), and are negatively related to employee turnover and absenteeism. 1

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A Pathway to Health: Nature Sacred Research Project Provides New Leads 

09/01/15 | View Comments

New research from a Nature Sacred partner, Frances Kuo at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, hints at a central pathway linking human health and time spent in nature.

Taking a walk in the park, going for a hike, or watching a tree sway in the wind feels intuitively relaxing. Health and nature research takes this a step further by asking how much, how often, and under what conditions humans benefit from spending time outside. Understanding what is happening outside of our awareness is where the scientific process steps in. In an era where more and more people are moving into cities, it is certainly worth our time to know how to build healthy urban spaces. And it is certainly worthwhile to assess the causes and correlations of nature-based health outcomes.

What conditions in our urban green spaces promote health? Exercising outside, breathing cleaner air, robust biodiversity? Does resting in a nearby park promote better sleep, increased social ties, or stronger immune systems? Kuo’s research review suggests nature’s ability to enhance immune functioning may be the major reason behind a host of health benefits.

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Open Voices News Roundup: January 6

01/06/14 | 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.

Urban Nature: How to Foster Biodiversity in World’s Cities
“A few years ago in Baltimore County, Maryland, environmental staffers were reviewing a tree-planting proposal from a local citizens group. It called for five trees each of 13 different species, as if in an arboretum, on the grounds of an elementary school in a densely-populated neighborhood. It seemed like a worthy plan, both for the volunteer effort and the intended environmental and beautification benefits. Then someone pointed out that there were hardly any oaks on the list, even though the 22 oak species native to the area are known to be wildlife-friendly. Local foresters, much less local wildlife, could barely recognize some of the species that were being proposed instead…Though it may be too soon to call it an urban wildlife movement, initiatives focused on urban biodiversity seem to be catching on. The U.S. Forest Service, which once laughed off the idea that anything urban could be wild now supports a growing urban forest program.”

A Dose Of Nature Helps City Dwellers Fight Their Need For Instant Gratification

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 23

12/23/13 | 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.

Hiking in a Winter Wonderland
“Just because temperatures have dropped doesn’t mean outdoor efforts to elevate your heart rate should take a nose dive, too. New York City offers many walking trails and paths through scenic, wooded parks and along breathtaking waterways. “Winter is a great time to get out and see the parks in a new way once the trees have shed all of their leaves,” said Sarah Aucoin, director of the Urban Park Rangers program, which offers guided hikes and walks in the city’s park all year. “You can see wildlife and get your heart pumping at the same time.” If you struggle to stay active in the winter, walking may inspire you to get outdoors. Dr. Susan Kansagra, deputy commissioner for the division of health promotion and disease prevention at the New York City health department, said that regular walking helps reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and colon and breast cancer.”

Improve Your Health with the Forest Therapy

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 2

12/02/13 | 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.

How San Francisco Is Changing the Way People Think of Green Space
“Tables and chairs sit neatly arranged on a wooden platform in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. When the sun is shining, customers spill out of cafes and restaurants and crowd onto the platform. But this isn’t just outdoor seating. It’s a park. The platform is part of San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program, a collaboration between the city planning department and a number of other municipal agencies, including the mayor’s office. The program converts squares of pavement into plazas and postage-stamp-sized parks, called parklets. It started four years ago as a kind of experiment and has since become a fixture of civic life in San Francisco.”

Michigan: Leslie Science & Nature Center Teams with Ann Arbor Hospitals to Help Patients Heal

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 11

11/11/13 | 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.

Volunteers Want to Help Healing with Garden Overlook
“With freshly poured concrete, two-by-fours and hammers, Keith Tidball wanted to help to build healing at Cunningham Park. The Cornell University professor was on hand Saturday for a workday for the construction of the Butterfly Garden and Overlook in the northeast corner of the park. Members of the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University, Joplin Parks and Recreation and scores of volunteers showed up Friday and Saturday to help with the work. A multidisciplinary research and design team proposed the “Landscapes of Resilience” project to study the role of open spaces in recovery. Tidball hopes that the project, when completed, will help people affected by the 2011 tornado recover from their grief.”

Community Gardens Encourage Capital Growth

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 4

11/04/13 | 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.

Research Reveals Behavioral Impact of Investment In Parks
“Investing in parks could more than triple the amount of exercise taken according to new research. The study by outdoor play equipment specialists Proludic, examined the impact on communities of investing in play, sports and fitness facilities and revealed that on average people using the parks increased their level of active play or exercise by 376% as a result of the improvements. This equated to an extra 3 hours 21 minutes of activity every month or 1.6 days of exercise each year…The study found that in both areas activity levels increased for all age ranges, with average visits to the parks tripling (from 3 to 9 visits per month) and the amount of time spent during each visit almost doubling (from 13.5 to 25.5 minutes per visit).”

Are Urban Green Spaces Doomed?

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Open Voices News Roundup: October 28

10/28/13 | 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.

MIT Research Reveals the Power of Placemaking
“The MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning released new research that examines the evolution of urban planning and its effects on communities. The report defines placemaking as “an innovative approach to transforming communities by creating and revitalizing open, public spaces around the needs and desires of the community.’ ‘Placemaking puts power back in the hands of the people,’ said Susan Silberberg, lead researcher of the MIT team that performed the study. ‘The most successful placemaking initiatives transcend the ‘place’ to forefront the ‘making,’ and the benefits for community can be substantial and long-lasting.’”

Children Urged to Put Away Screens and Play Outside

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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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