Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "Parks"

The city has been likened to a poem…

12/22/15 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders and ideas advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This week we examine the aesthetic and poetic elements of civic sacred. 

“The city has been likened to a poem, a sculpture, a machine. But the city is more than a text, and more than an artistic or technological artifact. It is a place where natural forces pulse and millions of people live–thinking, feeling, dreaming, doing. An aesthetic of urban design must therefore be rooted in the normal processes of nature and of living. It should link function, feeling, and meaning and should engage the senses and the mind.”

In The Poetics of City and Nature, a writer calls for a new aesthetic theory of landscape and urban design. Anne Whiston Spirn wrote in 1988 that the idea of dialogue in creating a city is central. How we interact and move about in a city is the result of complex, overlapping and interweaving narratives.

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America the Beautiful!

06/30/15 | View Comments

Where will you be this weekend for Independence Day celebrations? Like many this long weekend, you will likely gather with others in a local city park, or visit one of the many grand state or national parks. July 4th celebrations are usually quite the opposite of most sensory experiences we discuss here;  loud, busy and joyful rather than quiet and reflective. However, this weekend can be a time for you to reflect on our nation’s identity and our long standing love of green spaces.

Kids enjoying live music, picnics and July 4th activities  in the Rocky Mountains.

Kids enjoying live music, picnics and July 4th activities in the Rocky Mountains.

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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 16

12/16/13 | 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.

‘Wild Urbanism’ in the Middle of Putin’s Moscow
“Just beyond Moscow’s Red Square, past the iconic domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the walls of the Kremlin, a new landmark is planned for Russia’s largest metropolis. In a nod to the city’s increasingly globalized identity, the new landmark will not come solely from the church or government. Instead, it will be a 13-acre park open to everyone and developed by a team of internationally renowned architects best known for designing the glam High Line in Manhattan. Inspired by the ecological diversity of Russia, Zaryadye Park will be the first new park built in Moscow since 1958, rising on a former Jewish ghetto once slated for Stalin’s tallest skyscrapers… Under the vision hatched by Diller Scofido + Renfro and Putin’s administration, free-flowing walkways and permeable pavers will encourage exploration through park areas designed to recall Russia’s varied landscapes of tundra, steppe, forest and wetlands.”

Prince George’s children learn where their food comes from at Hard Bargain Farm

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Mayors for Parks Coalition: Protecting Public Spaces

12/11/13 | View Comments

From Denver, CO to Fort Worth, TX, a new bipartisan coalition is on the rise to help support and protect public parks, trails and green spaces in urban areas. The Mayors for Parks coalition, a project from the City Parks Alliance, is aiming to remind Congress and the White House how critical parks are to urban areas.

The coalition is specifically pushing for reauthorization and robust funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire in 2015, and is a critical source of funding for city parks in the US. Since its creation in 1965, the LWCF has funded the creation of more than 42,000 state and local parks, playgrounds, urban wildlife refuges, greenways, trails, and other open spaces. But the LWCF has been underfunded by millions of dollars the past few years.

There are five other mayors from cities across the country joining Mayors Betsey Price of Fort Worth and Michael Hancock of Denver in their commitment to protecting urban parks and the funding that keeps them running. The mayors are looking to expand the coalition as they all realize how vital these parks are to the health and happiness of their citizens.

Below is one of the videos release along with the launch of the coalition:

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Open Voices News Roundup: December 9

12/09/13 | 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.

Doctor’s orders: Get outside!
“We all know the drill: Get sick. Go to the doctor. Receive a prescription for medicine. Take the medicine until you feel better. But what if, instead of being handed a prescription for medication at the end of your appointment, you instead received a prescription for spending more time outdoors? That’s the premise behind a new Boston-area program piloted by the Appalachian Mountain Club and MassGeneral Hospital for Children. The program, called “Outdoors Rx,” focuses on children 13 years of age and under and capitalizes on the natural resources right in its patients’ backyards. “There’s a growing body of research looking at the benefits of the outdoors on kids. For mental, physical and spiritual health, the outdoors is good for you. It reduces the symptoms of ADD and ADHD, asthma and childhood obesity,” said Pam Hess, Outdoors Rx’s program director.”

Buena Vista Park – Green Space both Tamed and Wild

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Recommended Reading: First National Study of Urban parks and Physical Activity

12/05/13 | View Comments

How does your proximity and use of local parks contribute to your health? City Parks Alliance and the RAND Corporation will be investigating that question over the next four years in hopes of establishing a set of best practices when it comes to managing urban parks and encouraging physical activity.

The study will include 200 different parks in 25 U.S. cities that were all randomly selected. The project will include training for park personnel and members of the communities that use the parks to act as “citizen scientists” to help collect objective data for the study.

The process of researching and the results that emerge from this study will help park professionals better understand how certain management techniques can impact the amount and type of physical activity taking place in these natural, yet urban, settings.

Learn more about the study here.

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Open Voices News Roundup: November 18

11/18/13 | 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.

Would You Send Your Child to Daycare in the Forest?
“While ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing at all times is absolutely necessary, I think it’s unfortunate that we North Americans are so bound to indoor spaces and the countless costs associated with them. Imagine if we took a lesson from the popular “forest kindergartens” of Scandinavia and northern Europe, where toddlers and preschool-aged kids spend all day outdoors, learning that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” If daycares shifted their focus to parks and playgrounds in urban settings, and forests in rural areas, there would no longer be such a pressing need to pay for an indoor space; childcare workers could be paid better wages; and kids wouldn’t suffer from what Richard Louv has termed “nature deficit disorder” in his fascinating book “Last Child in the Woods.””

Are More Downtown Parks in Ann Arbor’s future?

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Open Voices News Roundup: October 21

10/21/13 | 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.

Reconnecting City Citizens with the Environment
“Going back to the 19th century, when poor housing, sanitation and overcrowding caused cholera outbreaks and tuberculosis, the relationship between environment and health was undeniable. Today, emerging research is reminding us of that relationship, suggesting that access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities and improve psychological wellbeing…For many, it’s not a case of reconnecting with nature but of making that first connection…As urbanites have lost skills such as gardening, wood working and wildlife knowledge – where do we start?”

Small Efforts Can Boost Use of Public Parks

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Open Voices News Roundup: October 14

10/14/13 | 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 Trees Can Boost a Home’s Sale Price
“Maybe money grows on trees after all. In an analysis of 2,608 real-estate transactions over 10 months, researchers found that homes with “street trees,” those planted between the sidewalk and street, sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees. What’s more, homes with street trees sold 1.7 days more quickly than homes without street trees, says Geoffrey Donovan, an economist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Ore. Neighbors can reap the benefits as well. Homeowners who live within 100 feet of street trees enjoy a sale premium of $1,688, on average, even though the trees aren’t on their property…The advantages of trees go well beyond mere aesthetics, Mr. Donovan says. “There’s increasing evidence that there are huge public health consequences of living in a city. Not everyone can live next to Central Park. Trees are a way of modifying this urban environment.” Other research conducted by Mr. Donovan shows that street trees are associated with cleaner air, lower energy use and lower crime.”

Park Equipment Offering Outdoor Alternative to Gyms

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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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