Cities are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure

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Image 12 Anna's Hummingbird male Photo Mike Houck
June 23, 2016 Anatomy of a Mural: A Seventy Foot Heron Transforms a Lifeless Wall
Mike Houck,  Portland

Recently, The Nature of Cities launched Up Against the Wall: A Gallery of Nature-Themed Graffiti and Street Art, soliciting graffiti and murals celebrating nature in the city. I submitted images of what I believe to be the largest hand-painted wall mural on a building in North America. I frequently lead natural history walks around the 160-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge,...

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GLOBAL
ROUNDTABLE

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May 28, 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 |  11 Comment(s)
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PODCAST:
THIS IS TNOC

Coconuts
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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REVIEWS
REACTIONS

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June 23, 2016 Is There a Suburbia 2.0? Ideas for Designing the Next Generation of Suburbs
Kevin Sloan, Dallas-Fort Worth

A review of A Sequel to Suburbia: Glimpses of America’s Post-Suburban Future. By Nicholas A. Phelps. 2015. ISBN: 9780262029834. MIT Press. 248 pages. Buy the book. James Joyce suggested that the creative work of an author—and I also include the work of an artist or landscape architect—presumes the intellectual level of the audience that is needed to appreciate it. Having...

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June 21, 2016 What is the Meaning of a Potato? Cuisine as Language for Biocultural Connectivity
William Dunbar, Tokyo

A cuisine is a “culinary language” that communicates values and forms bonds between people just as effectively as words. This was one of the messages of Mr. Gastón Acurio Jaramillo, Peruvian chef and “ambassador of Peruvian cuisine”, in his keynote speech at the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima this past March. Acurio is known as Peru’s top...

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A 2006 plan commonly known as the “Green Dot Map” proposes converting low-lying neighborhoods into parks after Hurricane Katrina. Image: The Times-Picayune
June 19, 2016 Climate Adaptation Plans Can Worsen Unequal Urban Vulnerability
Linda Shi, Boston
Isabelle Michele Sophie Anguelovski, Barcelona

The Rockefeller Foundation announced its third and final set of its “Resilient Cities”, rounding out a group of 100 cities that have demonstrated success in and commitment to enhancing resilience to climate change and other natural or man-made disasters, among other urban challenges. These cities, along with hundreds of others without the designation, are experimenting with different ways to “climate...

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June 16, 2016 Leveraging Environmental Arts for Education and Sustainable Futures
Hilary Inwood, Toronto
Joe Heimlich, Columbus
Kumara Ward, Sydney
Jennifer Adams, New York City

Cities around the world are using the arts to enhance urban aesthetic experiences and motivate innovative environmental activism. Manifesting as flash mobs, immersive street theatre, bike parades, pop-up installations, zero-carbon concerts, and participatory storytelling, artists are using their creativity and ingenuity to draw attention to and propose solutions for the environmental challenges of the 21st century city. Often referred to...

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June 14, 2016 Intergenerational Urban Environmental Education
Shih-Tsen Nike Liu, Taichung City
Matthew Kaplan, University Park, PA

In 1977, the Tbilisi intergovernmental conference on environmental education endorsed a set of guiding principles for environmental education. Some principles, including considering the environment in its totality, viewing environmental learning as a continuous lifelong process, and taking a historical perspective into account, lend support for intergenerational approaches to environmental education. This set of approaches to environmental education is particularly pertinent...

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RECENT ROUNDTABLES...

SAN-JUAN
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 | 
15 Comment(s)
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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 | 
23 Comment(s)
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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 | 
4 Comment(s)
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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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MORE ESSAYS IN...

SCIENCE &
TOOLS

New Zealand native bellbird. Photo: www.naturewatch.org.nz
June 1, 2014 What Species Return? Natural Disasters and the Nature of Cities, Part II
Glenn Stewart,  Christchurch

In my first blog way back in December 2012 I introduced you to the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and the devastation that followed to our beautiful “Garden City”. And also to vegetation studies that...

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PEOPLE &
COMMUNITITES

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September 21, 2015 Move Slow and Connect People with Nature: The Economics of Happiness in Jeonju
Patrick Lydon,  San Jose & Seoul

A review of the International Conference on the Economics of Happiness, held on September 3-5, 2015 in Jeonju, South Korea. “We need to re-establish the link between city and land.” At the opening ceremony of the Economics of Happiness conference, we were happily greeted with this statement from the event’s director, Dr. Helena Norberg-Hodge, who called for everyone present (governments,...

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PLACE &
DESIGN

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April 14, 2016 Linear Parks: Meeting People’s Everyday Needs for Secure Recreation, Commuting, and Access to Nature
Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires
Claudia Zuleyka Vidal,  Cali

In previous contributions to The Nature of Cities (for example, Das (2015); Tsur (2014)), some authors have reported successful experiences or projects of linear open spaces providing green access to more people across neighborhoods or adapting old infrastructure to modern needs. Linear parks are longitudinal areas, both green and grey, including greenways/corridors and urban edges; blue ways/waterfronts and transportation infrastructure...

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ART &
AWARENESS

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November 1, 2015 How the White House Went Green: The Environmental Legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson
Adrian Benepe,  New York City

Which American president administration of the last century has the strongest record on preserving the environment and natural beauty? Presidents Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt, who created the National Wildlife Refuge System (protecting 230 million acres) and established the Civilian Conservation Corps, putting 2.5 million people to work building trails and planting trees, respectively? President Kennedy, who created the Cape Cod...

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