Cities are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure.



cumbia front view 2013 Photo by Paula Segal
July 27, 2016 Skin the City
Paula Segal,  Brooklyn
Daniel Eizirik,  Porto Allegre

The skin of the city shifts. Waves of residents come and go; meanings vanish. The longer I live here, the more I feel like I am a creature of many phantom limbs. Hungry, I walk to Jimmy’s hoping for fish and a chair to eat it in, but it is gone. In its place, a bodega expanded into a head...

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June 30, 2016 Urban agriculture has many benefits. Is one of them a contribution to urban sustainability?
Jane Battersby,  Cape Town |  Katrin Bohn,  Brighton |  Christopher Bryant,  Montreal |  Easther Chigumira,  Harare |  Evan Fraser,  Guelph |  Kelly Hodgins,  Guelph |  Patrick Hurley,  Collegeville, PA |  Francois Mancebo,  Paris |  Idah Mbengo,  Harare |  Innisfree McKinnon,  Menomonie |  Leslie McLees,  Eugene |  Geneviève Metson,  Vancouver |  Navin Ramankutty,  Vancouver |  Kristin Reynolds,  New York City |  Esther Sanyé-Mengual,  Bologna |  Shaleen Singhal,  New Delhi |  Kathrin Specht,  Müncheberg |  Naomi Tsur,  Jerusalem |  Andre Viljoen,  Brighton |  Claudia Visoni,  São Paulo |  12 Comment(s)
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June 22, 2016 What Should We Make of Jane Jacobs’ Critique of Parks in The Death and Life of Great American Cities?—TNOC Podcast Episode 8
Philip Silva, New York
David Maddox, New York City

Also available at iTunes. Story Notes: Andy Hernandez walked into Washington Square Park on a sunny afternoon in 1981 with a cameraman, a boom box, and a mandate to make a music video for a medley of new songs by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, his downtown New York City band. With the camera rolling, Hernandez danced through crowds of people packed...

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July 18, 2016 The High Line. Foreseen. Unforeseen.
Adrian Benepe, New York City

A review of The High Line. By James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofido + Renfro. 2015. ISBN: 9780714871004. Phaidon Press. 452 pages. Buy the book. New York City’s High Line Park, once a rusting relic of abandoned freight rail transportation infrastructure, has become arguably one of the world’s best-known urban parks, and possibly the single most visited park in...

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July 24, 2016 What Do Rotterdammers Want in Green Infrastructure? We Asked Them
Marthe Derkzen, Amsterdam

Now that urban greening is increasingly seen as a climate adaptation strategy, the question is how to best provide the necessary green space. Where, at which scale, and what type of greenery? Which design is preferred? And how can municipalities increase public support for green adaptation measures? To find answers to these questions, we need to investigate local needs. This...

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July 20, 2016 The Life Outside Gated Communities
Ragene Palma, Marikina City, Philippines

It’s a sunny morning and I leave the house, walking towards the gate of our subdivision. It’s just a few meters, downhill, around that pechay plantation, then uphill, typical of the sloping contour of Marikina Valley. In the two minutes and few meters, I see almost no one. Perhaps just Mr. Pechay, or so I call him, who’s busy tilling...

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July 17, 2016 When Will We Start to Green the Roofs of Cities on a Massive Scale?
Andrew Clements, Corinth

The urban heat island is a well-known phenomenon that affects all cities around the world. It is the difference in temperature between a city and the surrounding suburban area. In countries such as Greece, the peak summertime temperature difference between a city such as Athens and its periphery can be as much as 10 degrees Centigrade. The causes of this...

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July 12, 2016 The Forgotten Rurality: The Case for Participatory Management in Bogotá and its Surrounding Countryside
Diana Wiesner, Bogota

En español aquí. We often think of the city and the country as separate, and that development planning and urban sustainability and ends at the city boundary. But this isn’t true—in a planning and sustainability sense, the city and the surrounding rural areas are deeply linked. With this is mind, I would like to discuss a plan for the sustainable coexistence...

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May,2016 Common threads: connections among the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom, and their relevance to urban socio-ecology
Paul Downton,  Melbourne |  Johan Enqvist,  Stockholm |  Sheila Foster,  New York City |  Lisa Gansky,  San Francisco |  Mathieu Hélie,  Montréal |  Mark Hostetler,  Gainesville |  Michelle Johnson,  New York City |  Marianne Krasny,  Ithaca |  David Maddox,  New York City |  Michael Mehaffy,  Portland |  Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore |  Raul Pacheco-Vega,  Aguascalientes |  Mary Rowe,  New York City |  Alex Russ,  Ithaca |  Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal |  Anne Trumble,  Los Angeles |  Arjen Wals,  Wageningen |  Abigail York,  Tempe | 
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Apr,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 | 
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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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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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August 7, 2012 Exploring the Nature Pyramid
Tim Beatley,  Charlottesville

I have long been a believer in E.O. Wilson’s idea of biophilia; that we are hard-wired from evolution to need and want contact with nature. To have a healthy life, emotionally and physically, requires this contact....

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May 5, 2016 School Partnerships are Key to Vibrant and Sustainable Cities
Polly Knowlton Cockett,  Calgary
Janet Dyment,  Hobart
Mariona Espinet,  Barcelona
Yu Huang,  Beijing

Urban schools—any public, private, or charter schools delivering formal primary or secondary education—are key institutions in the shaping of vibrant and sustainable cities. Imagining such cities depends on the assumptions and ideologies of those involved in the transformation of urban sites, and moving beyond perceiving urban schools as problematic institutions (Pink and Noblit, 2007). Globally, a steady process of urbanization...

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December 12, 2012 The Invisible Urban Nature All Around Us: Beyond Green to Include the Built Infrastructure
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

It is interesting that we think of nature in cities only as fauna and flora.  Mineral nature—the rocks and inert resources—is the stage on which living nature is set.  In cities, this means that the embedded nature all around us, that has been extracted from the Earth like the processed aggregate that we use to make concrete, or the oil...

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Denver Comic Con founder Charlie LaGreca, in center. Photo: Denver Post
August 11, 2013 A Comic Book Sparks Kids Toward Environmental Justice
Rebecca Bratspies,  New York City

In my first blog post for The Nature of Cities, I wrote about environmental justice as a bridge between traditional environmentalism and an increasingly urban global population. I suggested that we had work to do to makes environmental concerns salient to a new, ever-more urban generation. Since then, I have been working to test this hypothesis. To that end, I...

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