Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "Q&A"

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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A Look into Therapeutic Landscapes: An Interview with Naomi Sachs

10/23/13 | View Comments

Taking time to get in tune with your surroundings and learn to love nature has proven a therapeutic process for many, including Naomi Sachs. Sachs is Founding Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and writes the corresponding blog, but has taken the research on connections between healing and nature a step further in her latest project.

She has been able to translate a personal passion for nature into a new book, co-written by Clare Cooper Marcus, which just came out this week called Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces. The new publication has been long-anticipated and referenced as the “single most comprehensive and authoritative guide to designing healing gardens and restorative outdoor spaces.”

We were able to chat with Naomi around the release of her new book and discuss her work on this project and what she hopes the book can achieve for healthcare and design.

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A Holistic Path to Health: An Interview with Dr. Brian Berman

10/10/13 | View Comments

Open Voices is taking the opportunity to get to know some of the different team members from our National Awards grantee projects. You can find previous interviews with other team members here.

For the brave men and women returning home from serving their country, mental and physical health are top priorities. The Green Road grantee project at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, home of Walter Reed national Military Medical Center, is seeking to provide these military service members with a more holistic approach to their healing from wartime.

Addressing health and well-being in conjunction with exposure to nature for these military service members is hoped to help improve the healing process. Dr. Brian Berman, president of the Institute for Integrative Health, studies and practices integrative medicine including mind/body approaches to healing that will be critical in the research conducted as a part of the Green Road Project.

We had the opportunity to ask Dr. Berman a few questions about his work with the Green Road Project.

Open Voices: How did you become involved with the Green Road Project?

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Cultivating Resilient Spaces in the City: A Q&A with Dr. Erika Svendsen

09/11/13 | View Comments

Open Voices is taking the opportunity to get to know some of the different team members from our National Awards grantee projects. You can find previous interviews with other team members here.

When one thinks of the U.S. Forest Service, you wouldn’t necessarily think of New York City. That is not the case for Dr. Erika Svendsen and her colleagues at the New York City Urban Field Station. Her work focuses on how systems of environmental stewardship “shape new forms of governance, collective resilience, sacred space and human well-being,” which made her a perfect partner for the Landscapes of Resilience project.

Drawing on past research on the city, people and the environment, Svendsen and her colleagues will be studying the ways in which the people of Joplin, MO and New York City have each turned to using greening as a mechanism for recovery after natural disasters. We had the opportunity to sit down with Erika and learn more about her work in New York for the project.

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Resilient Design: An Interview with Nancy Chikaraishi and Traci Sooter

08/22/13 | View Comments

Open Voices is taking the opportunity to get to know some of the different team members from our National Awards grantee projects. You can find previous interviews with other team members here.

Neither Nancy Chikaraishi, AIA, or Traci Sooter, AIA , LEED AP,  are strangers to applying their skills as architects to help their local community. Both based out of Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture, the team has helped instill the values of giving back in their students through projects helping to rebuild the  nearby city of Joplin, MO following the devastating tornado in 2011.

Nancy Chikaraishi

While working together to facilitate the grant for the Landscapes of Resilience project, Chikaraishi and Sooter are making the major moves toward beginning to turn the designs for the park in Joplin into a beautiful and healing reality. The two experienced architects and professors took the time to talk with us on the plans for this project and how it has been progressing thus far.

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Learning a Love of Nature in the City: A Q&A with Sara Hobel

08/15/13 | View Comments

Open Voices is taking the opportunity to get to know some of the different team members from our National Awards grantee projects. You can find previous interviews with other team members here.

Building on her previous experiences as an advocate for the benefits of nature, such as leading up the Urban Park Rangers in New York, Sara Hobel continues to help New Yorkers find the wilder and greener side of the city as the executive director of the Horticultural Society of New York.

Sara Hobel at the Urban Agricultural Conference this year.

Her latest efforts involve partnering with Milton Puryear and the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in planning and executing the Naval Cemetery Landscape project, one of our National Award grantees. Hobel took the time to speak with us on the ongoing plans for the project and her work to educate city-folk on the restorative qualities of nature.

Open Voices: Can you give us some context on the partnership between the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the Horticultural Society of New York?

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Designing the Naval Cemetery Landscape: An Interview with the Landscape Architects of Nelson Byrd Woltz

08/06/13 | View Comments

The landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz is dedicated to the integration of respect for nature and design. They will be partnering with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, one of our National Award winners, on the Naval Cemetery Landscape project to develop a peaceful natural space for commuters along the greenway.

We had a chance to sit down with Thomas Woltz, FASLA, CLARB, Principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz, and Jeffrey Longhenry, Senior Associate on the Naval Cemetery project, to discuss their approach to this particular landscape design.

Thomas Woltz

Open Voices: What role do you envision having in the development of the Naval Cemetery Landscape project?

Thomas Woltz: The role of Nelson Byrd Woltz will be to envision a sustainable landscape design for this important, sacred ground that reveals the many layers of history of the site. It’s a design meant to honor not just the individuals buried there — many of whose names we do not know — but also to honor the cultural traces of this place as a farm, then a hospital burial ground, and a navy yard burial ground, and to remind people that the stories of land live on and uses change.

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Biophilic Cities: A Q&A With Tim Beatley

01/15/13 | View Comments
"We are an increasingly urbanized planet, so we've got to imagine how urbanites can have that close connection that they absolutely need with the natural world." An interview with the founder of the Biophilic Cities Project, about why nature in urban areas is more important today than ever before. Read Read more
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Protecting Urban Ecosystems: An Interview with Timon McPhearson

09/13/12 | View Comments

Timon McPhearson came to our attention when we stumbled across his wonderful article for The Nature of Cities, about the important potential social and ecological benefits of vacant lots in cities. Turns out he’s a bit of an expert in the area — McPhearson is a professor of Urban Ecology at The New School’s Tishman Environment and Design Center in New York City where he teaches urban ecology, sustainability and resilience. Ideally, he works to help people better understand, protect, and improve nature in urban areas.

We spoke with McPhearson about his work; the state of urban nature today and in the future; and how to best incorporate nature into your daily routine, even if you live in a city. Read on for our full interview.

Open Voices: You’re a professor at the New School, where you study ways to better design, restore, and build resilient and sustainable social-ecological systems. Can you tell us more about your work and studies and what you teach at the New School?

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Creating Urban Density With Reflective Spaces: A Q&A With Green Developer Jonathan Rose

08/22/12 | View Comments

Back when we were at the Greater & Greener Conference, we attended a panel by green real estate developer Jonathan Rose. Our ears perked up when he mentioned incorporating a labyrinth into one of his housing projects — as you might know about us, we love labyrinths and believe that quiet, nature-filled spaces in urban areas are necessary for residents’ mental health and for unifying a community.

Rose has a storied past — he’s led the way in developing green affordable housing and continues to focus on green building and transportation, as well as mental and phsyical health of the residents in his buildings. We sat him down for a Q&A where we discussed how to incentivize green, healthy developments; why we need more reflective spaces as urban density increases; and much more.

Open Voices: You founded your company in 1989. What moved you to address green development issues before it became a popular movement?

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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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