Essays Archive

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

30 May 2019

How can local governments retain and plant trees on private lands—a primer
Camilo Ordóñez, Melbourne Judy Bush, Melbourne Joe Hurley, Melbourne Marco Amati, Melbourne Stephen Livesley, Melbourne

The future sustainability and liveability of cities in many bioregions will depend on retaining established trees, and on planting new trees, including on private lands. While retaining and planting trees in public space has become a familiar feature in many cities, the role of private land areas in a city’s...

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24 May 2019

On Paschal Mysteries, Primates and Conflagration: Notre Dame and the Ecological Disenfranchisement of Western Civilization
Keith Tidball, Ithaca

I was vacationing in Florida, taking advantage of Spring Break, and Easter week, writing and reading and escaping the administrivia that accompanies the end of the spring semester when I saw a short report on the television behind the bar at the local pub. It was Notre Dame. It was...

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22 May 2019

Lakes as Urban Classrooms | Reflections on the case of Rachenahalli Lake, Bangalore (2015-2018)
Sumetee Gajjar, Bangalore

Civic engagement by the Jaimitra trust, and various civic organisations involved in conserving Rachenahalli Lake, was to create a space expected to help alleviate the stresses of living in an urban jungle, and break away from the infamous legacy tied to the images of highly polluted, frothing and aflame lakes...

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9 May 2019

Reclamation and Mining: A Dangerous Fight for Sustainability in the Philippines
Ragene Palma, Manila

The Philippines has repeatedly taken blows causing environmental degradation. Last month, a dead whale was found with 40 kilograms of plastic in its stomach. In the same month, Metro Manila experienced a water crisis, affecting millions, and increasing risks in sanitation and waste management. In relation to this, protests have...

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2 May 2019

A Tribute to U.S. Congressman John Dingell – A Conservation Hero
John Hartig, Detroit

U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell, Jr. passed away on February 7th at the age of 92. He may be best known as the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives in history—serving 59 years and being reelected 29 times, an unparalleled leader of health care—presiding over the passage of...

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April, 2019

26 April 2019

Crows of Vancouver: The Middle Way Between Biophobia and Biophilia
Christine Thuring, Vancouver

One of Metro Vancouver’s greatest spectacles is its twice daily crow migration that occurs every dawn and dusk, 365 days a year. Whatever your view or choice of description—crow-maggedon, crow stampede, crow-pocalypse—it is an impressive sight. Clans (or murders) of crows from all sections of the coast trickle in, like...

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21 April 2019

What Cities Can Learn from Human Bodies
Nadine Galle, Amsterdam

At any one moment, trillions of chemical reactions take place in the human body: a myriad of connections, enzymes, and processes that together make up our human metabolism. You might recognise this concept from health and fitness clickbait headlines that promise things like: “10 easy ways to increase your metabolism”;...

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15 April 2019

Proposals for the Environment and the Future of Cities
Kevin Sloan, Dallas-Fort Worth

A Brief History of Climate Change Issued in November of 2018 by a collection of 13 government agencies known as the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the environmental assessments of The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) present a deeply disturbing forecast and polarizing confrontation to most anyone reading the report....

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4 April 2019

From Wet Feet to a Tiny Food Forest—How These 4th Graders Transformed Their Schoolyard into a Tiny Food Forest
Marthe Derkzen, Amsterdam

A Tiny Food Forest? As in, an edible forest? At school? Driven and designed by a bunch of 4thgraders? Absolutely. This project became a reality thanks to a dedicated team of enthusiastic individuals (children, teachers, directors, policymakers, nature educators, parents, neighbors, designers, and scientists) in the mid-sized town of Ede...

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March, 2019

29 March 2019

Cities’ Quality of Life, Health, and Sustainability Are Defined by Access to Nearby Parks
Adrian Benepe, New York Benita Hussain, New York

Since the mid-nineteenth century, parks have always been deeply intertwined in the modern identities of cities. In the U.S., Central Park is less a feature of New York than it is a key component of its essential character, much as Prospect Park once similarly defined the emerging city of Brooklyn,...

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24 March 2019

Vegetating Tall Buildings
Gary Grant, London

In 1883, a rooftop garden theatre opened in New York City. The idea was to escape the city summer heat, whilst enjoying some evening entertainment, without actually leaving NYC. A decade later, the New York Times announced that, “New York is fast becoming a city of roof gardens”. In 1935,...

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17 March 2019

From Biocultural Diversity to a Nature-Culture Alliance
William Dunbar, Tokyo

Since I was invited to start writing about biocultural diversity for The Nature of Cities in 2015, there have been a number of developments in both policymaking processes related to biocultural diversity and, recently, to the concept itself. Some of these developments have happened around the Fourteenth Meeting of the...

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10 March 2019

Mr. Rogers, Tikkun Olam, and Thinking Like a Mountain
Keith Tidball, Ithaca

I recently watched the much acclaimed two-hour documentary on the life and accomplishments of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the popular children’s TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”. The film reflected on Rogers’ legacy of kindness and the profound and lasting effect his innovative approach to television had on millions...

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6 March 2019

Whose Park? The Forty-Year Fight for Justice in ‘The People’s Park’ under Copenhagen’s Evolving Urban Managerialism
Rebecca Rutt, Copenhagen Stephanie Loveless, Barcelona

In the last three decades, Copenhagen has shifted from an obscure Nordic capital to a leading global city. It is known for progressive environmental policies, an enviable public transportation and cycling network, and numerous public green spaces, earning it the European Green Capital Award in 2014. Moreover, Denmark is repeatedly...

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February, 2019

27 February 2019

Mosaic Management: The Missing Ingredient for Biodiversity Innovation in Urban Greenspace Design
Stuart Connop, London Caroline Nash, London

With a new stream of studies adding to evidence revealing disturbing declines in global populations of insects (Hallmann et al. 2018, Lister & Garcia 2018, Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019) and reports of an ecological catastrophe on the scale of a sixth mass extinction, there is an urgent need to do more...

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21 February 2019

Historic Urban Public Parks: Are They Being Incrementally Spoiled?
Steve Brown, Sydney

Urban public parks are under constant siege; and the issue is an increasingly global matter. Typically created as public recreation spaces and local community green spaces within cities and towns, urban parks are increasingly impacted by incremental changes to original designs brought on by, for example, overshadowing by tall buildings,...

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10 February 2019

The Beaver, Cottonwoods, and Lucy: Preservation Is Not Enough
Mike Houck, Portland

In a previous essay, Size Doesn’t Matter, Really, I made the case that even small scraps of urban green, such as Portland’s one-square-block Tanner Springs Nature Park can provide significant benefits to a community. Located in the city’s intensely developed Pearl District, Tanner Springs provides access to nature to thousands...

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5 February 2019

Disaster Recovery? Yet Another Missed Opportunity to Build Back Better, Inclusive, and Sustainable Cities
Fadi Hamdan, Beirut

Throughout the world, cities are undergoing significant damage and destruction due to a combination of: (1) natural hazards increasing in severity, frequency and losses due to climate change (Figures 1); and (2) increased exposure, vulnerability and losses due to increasing population and economic concentration due to unplanned rapid urbanization (Figure...

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2 February 2019

The Winter City: Ecologies of Snow, Ice and Cold
Laura Shillington, Managua & Montreal

But it was all The Fear of Snow —Leonard Cohen, The Best The city in winter invokes diverse imaginaries—from romantic, beautiful, and magical to cold, dark, dirty, and hazardous. A quick Google search reproduces the first three imaginaries: romantic, beautiful, and magical (Figure 1). Yet winter is often depicted as...

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January, 2019

28 January 2019

Orchards from the Forest: A Local Solution to Extinction
Alessandra Pavesi, São Paulo

The destruction of Cerrado (Brazilian Savannah), the second largest biome in Brazil after Amazonia, has become the main concern of urban collectives focused on reintroducing elements of this important ecosystem in city landscapes and in the imaginations of city dwellers. In this essay, we look at urban farming for Cerradoregeneration from...

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