Cities are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure



May 26, 2016 Sense of Place Jennifer Adams,  New York City
David Greenwood,  Thunder Bay
Mitchell Thomashow,  Seattle
Alex Russ,  Ithaca

Different people perceive the same city or neighborhood in different ways. While one person may appreciate ecological and social aspects of a neighborhood, another may experience environmental and racialized injustice. A place may also conjure contradicting emotions—the warmth of community and home juxtaposed with the stress of dense urban living. Sense of place—the way we perceive places such as streets,...

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April 30, 2016 Visions of resilience: Eighteen artists say or show something in response to the word “resilience” Juan Carlos Arroyo,  Bogotá |  David Brooks,  New York City |  Katrine Claassens,  Cape Town |  Emilio Fantin,  Milan |  Ganzeer,  Los Angeles |  Lloyd Godman,  Melbourne |  Fran Ilich,  New York City |  Frida Larios,  Antiguo Cuzcatlán, Copán, and Washington |  Todd Lester,  Säo Paulo |  Patrick Lydon,  San Jose & Seoul |  Mary Mattingly,  New York City |  David Maddox,  New York City |  E. J. McAdams,  New York City |  Mary Miss,  New York City |  Edna Peres,  Johannesburg |  Caroline Robinson,  Auckland |  Finzi Saidi,  Pretoria |  Keijiro Suzuki,  Yamaguchi & Nagoya |  10 Comment(s)
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May 12, 2016 Look Who’s Coming to Dinner…Bacteria that Eat the Gowanus Sludge—TNOC Podcast Episode 7 Philip Silva, New York
David Maddox, New York City

Also available at iTunes. Story notes: The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is well known throughout New York City as a nearly two-mile-long trench filled with sewage and chemicals left behind by years of neglectful pollution. Though the canal is slated for a multi-million dollar cleanup courtesy of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Program, a team of local scientists, landscape architects, and...

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May 23, 2016 Poetry Produces the Novel Language of Future Cities Laura Booth, New York City

A review of Urban Nature: Poems About Wildlife in the City. 2000. Edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis. ISBN: 1571314105. 265 pages. Buy the book. How can poems advance our understanding of nature in cities? If cities themselves are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure, it follows that these elements can coexist in a balance that yields sustainable, livable,...

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Residents participating in Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful
May 24, 2016 A Sustainable Future with Jobs and Social Harmony Starts with Urban Nature Buyana Kareem, Kampala

According to the United Nations’ sustainable development framework, there are three dimensions of sustainability: (1) economic sustainability (jobs, prosperity, and wealth creation for all); (2) social sustainability (reduced vulnerability to poverty, inequality, and insecurity); and (3) environmental sustainability (production and consumption patterns that respect planetary boundaries) [Note i]. On the surface, attaining all three layers of sustainability simultaneously can be...

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A young boy sits on top of a flood protection wall in Metro Manila. An informal community is settled under this bridge in a part of the river that is especially vulnerable to floods. Flood markers have been put in place to provide additional warning to the community - so that they can move to higher ground in case of an emergency. But the core of the problem is of lack of access to viable housing, employment and services that drives people to live in such vulnerable locations. Photo: © Richard Friend
May 22, 2016 Market-Based Solutions Cannot Forge Transformative and Inclusive Urban Futures Richard Friend, Bangkok

There is an advertisement that is played with great frequency on television in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Even without the language, the imagery is powerful and vivid; the meaning seems unambiguous. In the setting of a sparklingly clean, modern kitchen, a young pregnant woman goes to drink a glass of what appears to be clean water. Immediately, a grandmother figure rushes forward,...

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May 19, 2016 Parks as Magnets that Shape Sustainable Cities Amy Hahs, Parkville, Australia

The other day, I took my two children to the park. We clambered over rocks and logs, slid down slides, and rolled down a large grassy hill. At one stage, I stood at the top of the hill, the city skyline before me, and the sounds of happy children all around me, and my overwhelming emotion was “I love urban...

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Community Garden_Steve Guttman via flickr
May 17, 2016 Biophilic Urban Acupuncture: The Importance of Biophilia in Urban Places Jonce Walker, New York City

As our cities expand and densify simultaneously, there is a need to design places to connect people to nature. If we are not careful, our commute and daily experience within the city will be nothing more than glass, steel, and concrete. This post articulates the need for biophilic interventions in urban places, offers good examples found in NYC, and suggests...

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Respect Graffiti_Bogota_2015_PhotoDavidMaddox(feature)
Mar,2016 Graffiti and street art can be controversial, but can also be a medium for voices of social change, protest, or expressions of community desire. What, how, and where are examples of graffiti as a positive force in communities? Pauline Bullen,  Harare |  Paul Downton,  Melbourne |  Emilio Fantin,  Milan |  Ganzeer,  Los Angeles |  Germán Gomez,  Bogotá |  Sidd Joag,  New York City |  Patrick Lydon,  San Jose & Seoul |  David Maddox,  New York City |  Patrice Milillo,  Los Angeles |  Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal | 
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Foto_2_Filandia (Colombia)
Mar,2016 Landscape initiatives are in operation or in development in many parts of the world. What is key to making them work and be useful? How are they good for cities? Steve Brown,  Sydney |  Martha Fajardo,  Bogota |  Carla Gonçalves,  Porto, Portugal |  Monica Luengo,  Madrid |  Claudia Misteli,  Barcelona |  Osvaldo Moreno,  Santiago |  Liana Jansen,  Cape Town |  Laura Spinadel,  Vienna |  Kenneth Taylor,  Canberra |  Menno Welling,  Zomba | 
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Jan,2016 Can cities save bees? How can urban habitats be made to serve pollinator conservation? How can that story be better told? Katherine Baldock,  Bristol |  Alison Benjamin,  London |  Sarah Bergmann,  Seattle |  Mark Goddard,  Newcastle |  Damon Hall,  St. Louis |  Tina Harrison,  New Brunswick |  Scott MacIvor,  Toronto |  Denise Mouga,  Joinville |  Matt Shardlow,  Peterborough |  Caragh Threlfall,  Melbourne | 
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Dec,2015 An explicitly urban Sustainable Development Goal has been adopted by the UN (#11). Now what? Where could it go wrong? Genie Birch,  Philadelphia |  Ben Bradlow,  Boston |  William Dunbar,  Tokyo |  Peter Head,  London |  Mark Hostetler,  Gainesville |  Hui Ling Lim,  Singapore |  Shuaib Lwasa,  Kampala |  Jose Puppim,  Johor Bahru / Cambridge / Rio |  Andrew Rudd,  New York City |  Karen Seto,  New Haven |  David Simon,  Gothenburg |  Bolanle Wahab,  Ibadan |  Lorena Zárate,  Mexico City | 
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June 21, 2015 How Can Local Design Impact Large Infrastructure Plans and Projects? Anna Dietzsch,  São Paulo

“Quem é rico anda em burrico Quem é pobre anda a pé Mas o pobre vê na estrada O orvalho beijando as frô… …Vai oiando as coisa a grané Coisas que prá modo de vê O...

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Portland Metropolitan Greenspaces map © Mike Houck
April 6, 2014 Collective Impact: A New Model for Regional Open Space Planning Mike Houck,  Portland
Mike Wetter,  Portland

Tim Beatley (2000: 224) cites Portland, Oregon as one example of progressive regional, bioregional, and metropolitan-scale greenspace planning in the country. Portland is also known for its land use planning and sustainability practices. Indeed, the city has more LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) buildings than any other city. While the nation had increased greenhouse gases by 13%, Portland’s fell by...

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July 21, 2013 “Growing Place” in Japan—Creating Ecological Spaces at Schools that Educate and Engage Everyone Keitaro Ito,  Kyushu

Where will children learn about nature? There has been so much building and housing in Japan that we’ve lost open space and natural areas. Where will children learn about nature? Where do they engage with the nature world? To solve this problem, we wanted to design biotopes within school grounds. These spaces would serve as both play and engagement areas....

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October 10, 2012 No More Elsewheres Andrew Rudd,  New York City

The frogs of suburban Nairobi Four years ago I moved to Nairobi and repaired the concrete-lined fish pond on my property. Soon thereafter the frogs appeared unbidden. Their performance generally begins with a single peep or croak and rapidly crescendos into something so dramatic and deafening that it feels more like the opening refrain of Carmina Burana than a mundane...

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