Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
December, 2019

7 December 2019

Neither Above Nor Below
Claire Stanford, Los Angeles

Jakarta Is Sinking So Fast, It Could End Up Underwater —New York Times headline, 12/21/17  A flash of silver-green in the water. That is all Hasan sees, but it is enough. He runs after, alongside, his small legs propelling him across the planks and platforms that crisscross the city. The...

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3 December 2019

Biophilia Revived: How Do We Strengthen the Connection to the Natural Environment in a City Expanding in the Desert
Abdallah Tawfic, Cairo

I live in a country that lives the dream of conquering the desert and building new cities. Cairo is the second largest city in Africa with a booming population crossing 23 million over an area representing less than 5 percent of the whole country’s land. I always wondered what is...

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November, 2019

29 November 2019

Inspiring District Residents, Specialists, and Government Officials to Work Together to Create a Park That Would Sustain Biodiversity and Meet People’s Desires
Nadezhda Kiyatkina, Moscow

Этот текст также можно прочитать на русском языке. For the last two years our interdisciplinary team has been working on the Cherished Meadow (Zapovedniy lug, in Russian) project. This is an unprecedented happening, as it is the first project of its kind in decades that involves building a city park...

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22 November 2019

Free to Live Beautiful Lives
Rodolphe Deborre, Lille

Good evening. I’m quite moved by the fantastic show we just had. So, I’m going to be experimental as well, because it’s going to be the first time in my life that I think in French, I try to speak in English, and it’s going to be translated back in...

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11 November 2019

Community, Collaboration, and Controversy: A Story of Activists, Architects, Scientists, Engineers, and a Vision to Transform Artifacts into Amenities and Oil Tanks into Oyster Beds.
Jay Valgora, New York

As a student, I walked the narrow river, sliding along edges to reach the massive curves of the abandoned grain elevators, rising in the sunlight reflecting off frayed elephantine concrete skins. My father worked in the steel mills of Buffalo, where I visited the incredible mile-long buildings that I felt demonstrated...

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4 November 2019

How to Sell “Nature in Cities” to the Middle Class
Cha-Ly Koh, Kuala Lumpur

Cities are not only hosting 68% of the world’s population by 2050, but a growing population of mobile-toting, car driving, and home ownership aspiring middle class. For rising middle class cities such as Jakarta and middle-income trapped citieslike Kuala Lumpur—middle income trapped cities are cities in countries that are unable...

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October, 2019

28 October 2019

For Urban Sustainability, What Research Do We Need Now?
Mark Hostetler, Gainesville

For over 25 years, as an urban ecologist working in academic institutions and collaborating with city planners, developers, and the public, I have seen the sustainability needle move ever so slowly. How can we speed things up? For scientists, if they are going to help make cities more sustainable, what...

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21 October 2019

Can Artistic Knowledge Bring Us Closer to Encountering the Co-influence of all Living Organisms?
Audrey Yeo, Edinburgh

“the knowing self is partial in all its guises, never finished, and can thus only develop in combination with others.” — Donna Haraway in Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective, p586 I grew up in Singapore. I heard stories from my father about when...

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16 October 2019

Co-creating Inclusive Green Cities: European Examples and Global Learning Opportunities
Katharina Hölscher, Rotterdam Alice Reil, Freiburg

“Co-creation” has garnered much buzz as a promising enabler of greener and better cities for all. During a hands-on session (“Co-creating inclusive green cities: European examples and global learning opportunities”) at the Nature of Cities Summit in Paris (June 4-7, 2019) with co-creation experts and cities—co-organised by Connecting Nature partners...

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11 October 2019

WILD STRAY CARE: Exploring multiple ways people co-exist with urban nature
Ferne Edwards, Barcelona Amy Hahs, Ballarat Yun Hye HWANG, Singapore

Human relationships with nature are highly complex and variable. Particularly now when the human connection to nature has been highly disrupted, and the sense of custodianship or stewardship has been displaced. Yet at the same time, there is a growing awareness and movement of the need to reconnect people and...

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6 October 2019

How Much Nature in Cities Should Be Set Aside?
Will Allen, Chapel Hill

Even in an era of extreme political divisiveness across the globe, clean air, clean water, and land conservation are extremely important goals across the political spectrum. According to recent bi-partisan polling in the US, 84 percent believe we can protect land and water and have a strong economy at the same...

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1 October 2019

Can Cities be Greta?
Peleg Kremer, Princeton Raz Godelnik, Princeton

On the last week of September millions of people participated in climate strike marches around the world, protesting against global inaction on climate change. Led by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, the youth climate strike movement and other social movements such as the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and Extinction Rebellion...

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September, 2019

21 September 2019

China Is Investing $13 Trillion in Construction. Will It Pursue Zero Carbon Buildings?
Tatsatom Goncalves, Washington, DC Debbie Weyl, Washington, DC

China is in the midst of a construction mega-boom. The country has the largest buildings market in the world, making up 20% of all construction investment globally. And it’s only set to grow: China is expected to spend nearly $13 trillion on buildings by 2030. This unprecedented level of construction has tremendous implications—not just for the...

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16 September 2019

Smart vs Green: Technology Paradigms Battle it Out for the Future City
Sarah Hinners, Salt Lake City

 Vision A—The Smart City: The city is an intricate network of digital communications, computations, and connections. Data are being collected everywhere, at all times, and feed into computing systems that work to coordinate functions like power availability and traffic to optimize efficiency in real time. Autonomous vehicles navigate the streets...

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8 September 2019

Avoid Pitfalls and Expand the Promise of Urban Wetlands for Biodiversity: A Tale of Three Urban Wetlands
Timothy Bonebrake, Hong Kong

Madagascar is well known for its incredible biodiversity; the lemurs, chameleons, and the baobabs are, for good reason, recognized as the environmental rock stars of the island. In July 2019 I landed in the capital of Antananarivo to participate in the 56th meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and...

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5 September 2019

Teleportation and the Reinvention of the World’s Cities: A 20-year Retrospective
Rob McDonald, Washington, DC

It began, like electricity before it, as a new technology for the rich in lower Manhattan to play with. A daring startup, Helios Travel, began offering teleportation from Greenwich (Connecticut) to Wall Street for the princely sum of $10,000 a pop. Many potential customers couldn’t handle the idea of all...

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3 September 2019

One Minute of Dance a Day, at TNOC Summit
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier, Paris

One of the One Minute of Dance a Day project. This dance was performed on the Sorbonne campus during the TNOC Summit, outside the main auditorium venue. Beats by 3’z. There are over 700 dances, and you can search them by Paris neighborhood, site type, nature element, and more.

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August, 2019

31 August 2019

The Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework
Didier Babin, Paris Oliver Hillel, Montreal Elisabeth Chouraki, Paris

The team working for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support project implemented by Expertise France participated to the international summit The Nature of Cities (TNOC) from the 4th to the 7th of June at the University of Paris Sorbonne of which the objective is to mobilize cities, metropolitan areas...

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22 August 2019

From City of Light to Ville Verte: How a Comprehensive Approach to Climate Change Adaptation is Making Paris the World’s Green Innovator
Adrian Benepe, New York

On a recent visit to Paris after an absence of more than a dozen years, I was struck by the comprehensive and visionary approach to urban resilience and livability that is transforming Paris into the global leader in innovative urban greening. Since my childhood, I have been entranced by the...

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12 August 2019

Oh, For the Love of Bicycles! A Walking Reflection about Moving on Two Wheels through Urban and Rural Areas
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

Walking may be my main form of transportation these days, but I often daydream about wheels…bicycle wheels…and the way they move people through urban and rural spaces. Most of our 14,000-kilometer journey to date is speckled with memories of two-wheeled riders, and my longing to join them in their pedaling...

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