Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "Urban Planning"

Baltimore prepares to meet national 10 minute walk campaign challenge

03/16/18 | View Comments

Just a few months ago, a bold and ambitious new challenge was laid down by a coalition of nonprofits seeking to bring meaningful greenspaces within a 10-minute walk of every American. Among the 134 mayors who were already signed on at launch — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose vision for the city smartly integrates a strong green component.

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What makes great cities succeed?

07/19/17 | View Comments

We attended the New York Times’ Cities for Tomorrow conference last week to find out. I mean, we have an idea or two around this topic (hint: open, urban green spaces), but we were excited to hear perspectives from expert leaders and innovators from around the country. 

In short? Here’s what we took away: successful cities respect urban culture. We’re talking neighborhood flavor, nuance, character, social fabric—these are all attributes that need to be understood, and respected, by leaders and decision-makers. The good, the bad, and the ugly. With an ear to the ground and a genuine understanding, cities can grow and evolve to be safer, stronger and more unified.

We love this sentiment. How uplifting it was to hear mayors, entrepreneurs, designers, and scientists rally behind this logic. We’ll share a few key highlights below—with a particular focus on urban wellbeing and environment.

Authenticity Matters.
Entirely inspiring—and of course entertaining—to listen to George Pelecanos and David Simon, the creative minds behind “The Wire” and the upcoming “The Deuce” talk about the importance of authentic urban storytelling. Amen to that!

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Telling a story—a remarkable story

05/10/17 | View Comments

We’ve taken our show on the road—complete with cameras, a drone and all sorts of sundry filmmaking equipment. Greetings, from beautiful Joplin, Missouri!

The TKF Team (Alden, Skye and Ethan) with Chris Cotten, Joplin Parks & Recreation Director

This is a story that we’ve been so excited to tell—and now we are. A story of community resilience—how Joplin has recovered from unthinkable devastation from the EF5 tornado that ravaged the town nearly 6 years ago—and how nature has played a leading role in this recovery, in the form of a meaningful community healing garden.

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Does Your Brain Prefer a Green Road?

05/02/17 | View Comments

 


At Nature Sacred, we keep a close eye on the academic research being published around nature and health & wellbeing. Via Research Shorts, each month we take what we see as some of the most interesting work being published and create a brief blurb for our readers — enabling you to be in the know, even if you’re short on time.


 

A Brief Summary of the Research

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Riots, Respite and Renewal in West Baltimore

04/12/17 | View Comments

From the outside, it could be easy to make assumptions about Sandtown-Winchester—the West Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was fatally arrested two years ago today. Vacant, dilapidated homes and boarded-up storefronts tell a candid story—a story of persistent poverty, crime, and misfortune. Yet, if you look closely, bright glimmers of promise and progress dot the urban landscape in some surprising ways.

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An Experience Within Green Infrastructure

03/22/16 | View Comments

This month we’ve briefly reviewed the shifts in large-scale urban infrastructure design. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) in the 19th and early 20th century enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development.

Today, cities across the globe are embracing ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ infrastructure initiatives to re-design failing, ‘grey’ engineered systems. Many are embracing innovations that sidestep an old structure entirely. For example, Vietnam, a country of coastal views, aims to join global “Green Cities” such as Stockholm and Singapore, by implementing large scale urban changes in three cities in the northern and central provinces. To become a Green City, standards of green space, constructions, transport and industry are met.

Green infrastructure can serve multiple functions, including public health.

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Overlapping Benefits of Green Infrastructure

03/08/16 | View Comments

Urban greening initiatives are in operation or in development around the globe. In a roundtable this past week from Nature of Cities, David Maddox reminds us “…The word landscape conveys a richer meaning that includes, of course, the aesthetics of nature and the out of doors, but also the organization and design or infrastructure, the biophysical and social services of ecosystems, the livability of communities, and the justice aspects of how our living environments are (or are not) democratically decided upon and created.”

Last week we briefly reviewed the history of the physical implementation of U.S. urban infrastructure. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development. Although hinted, we didn’t delve into the social or non-human benefits from infrastructure development. But one doesn’t need to search far to learn how sanitary systems dramatically changed the lives of urban dwellers.

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A Brief History of Urban Infrastructure

03/01/16 | View Comments

Grey Infrastructure

In the mid-19th century the “sanitary idea”, proposed by Edwin Chadwick in England, stressed the importance of the physical environment and the role of decaying organic matter as the source of disease. Sanitary engineering solutions emerged, focused on rapid and efficient disposal of urban wastes and providing clean water.

A New York sanitation worker in the 19th century. Source.

A New York City sanitation worker in the 19th century. Source.

What we now call Grey Infrastructure emerged during the 19th century alongside industrialization in many parts of the world.

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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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Can Community Spaces Relieve Stress?

02/17/15 | View Comments

Each month 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. In February, we look at the roots of the TKF Foundation’s mission to provide public greenspaces that offer temporary sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace and engender peace and well being.

Can community green spaces help relieve the stress from everyday tasks and life events? And, what might be special about nearby green spaces?

It doesn’t take a scientist to know that a nearby park helps you feel better and spend time with your family. But does science have anything to say about stress and nearby nature spaces? We know that simple visual exposure to nearby nature (such as window views and green roadsides) alone or combined with moderate activity in green spaces can effectively reduce stress. Multiple studies demonstrate the restorative benefits of nature when participants complete a stressful task followed by prompts of natural or built areas. Blood pressure lowers when study subjects look out a window with a view of trees. Nature walks are associated with blood pressure improvement, better task performance, and decreased anger compared to results of an urban walk! 1 And,we know that our heart rates decrease more rapidly with a window view of a natural scene compared to a view of a blank wall or a natural scene presented on a plasma screen.2

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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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