Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
August, 2018

20 August 2018

Greening the Blues: Nature and Depression
Yvonne Lynch, Melbourne

 The benefits of nature for general health are well established. Indeed, we intuitively know that green is good for our mental health, but just how good is it? The stress reduction/ supportive design theory posits that viewing or experiencing nature activates our parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress levels (Ulrich...

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12 August 2018

Urban Habitat Management that Could Attract Species that Otherwise Avoid Cities
Luis Sandoval, San José

In 2010, humanity reaches a historical milestone, because the majority of humans started to live in the urban areas for the first time. This milestone produces big pressure on remaining natural habitats inside urban areas, because those areas are the places that can be used to build more housing for...

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7 August 2018

Farmers From the City
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

It’s a hot June day in rural Greece. We stop in a run-down gas station on a small secondary road cutting through wheat fields on both sides. We wipe the sweat from our brows. The gas station attendant opens the refrigerator and pulls out a crate of cherries.  “Take what...

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2 August 2018

Ramsar COP 13: What can Artists Contribute to Urban Wetland Restoration?
Chris Fremantle, Ayrshire, Scotland

The Ramsar Convention (also known as Convention on Wetlands) is the first of the major intergovernmental convention on biodiversity conservation and wise use. It was signed in 1971, in the City of Ramsar in Iran. This October, the 13th Ramsar Conference of the Parties (COP 13) will take place in...

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July, 2018

24 July 2018

Urban Metabolism: A Real World Model for Visualizing and Co-Creating Healthy Cities
Sven Eberlein, Oakland

Like the human body, cities are living, ever-evolving organisms. Just as diet, exercise, sleep, or laughter can be seen as indicators of our personal physical and emotional well being, the ways in which goods, water, commuters, or food move through the urban ecosystem determines a city’s health and sustainability within...

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20 July 2018

Bangalore Pile Study: Curiosity and Intervention in the Margins of a Megacity
Daniel Phillips, Bangalore

To begin to grasp Bangalore’s frenetic patterns of urbanization, Google Earth offers an interesting place to start. Yet despite its much lauded reputation as India’s “Silicon Valley”, the “street view” function is still unavailable here. It appears to be the case that in a city which boasts among the worst...

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17 July 2018

SALT: Restoration + Recreation = Water in California
Robin Lasser, Oakland Marguerite Perret, Topeka

It is late June and we are up to our knees floating a small tent sculpture in a containment pond filled with a thick green milkshake-like goo. A combination of duck week and blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), this overgrowth or bloom is probably caused by fertilizer run-off from the surrounding cemetery...

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14 July 2018

2046, year of our lady The Fog
Claudia Luna Fuentes, Saltillo

This is part of the TNOC poetry series “The City We’re In”. Lea el poema en español, su idioma original. Lisez le poème en français. 2046, year of our lady The Fog Poems by Claudia Luna Fuentes Translation from Spanish by Gerardo Mendoza Garza _____________________________________________   2046, año de Nuestra...

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12 July 2018

Changing Green Cities from Myth to Reality
Sumetee Gajjar, Bangalore

New town development or new cities, being rapidly built across much of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, may be founded on the principles of green cities and are yet found lacking in their attention to the environment. Numerous articles on the smart cities mission in India also note the...

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9 July 2018

Civic Coproduction = Counterinstitutions + People: Make Participation Work by Focusing on the Possible
Nik Luka, Montreal and Uppsala

There is a common refrain in liberal democracies: local government is where participatory action is most likely to happen. Indeed, we often presume that neighbourhoods and towns and cities are privileged—perhaps even natural—spaces for the deliberative coproduction of plans, policies, strategies, and projects for sustainability and the common good. By...

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6 July 2018

Ocean Cities: The Power of Documentary Filmmaking to Tell Stories About the Nature Around Us
Tim Beatley, Charlottesville

At a recent film screening of our new documentary film Ocean Cities, about connecting cities and marine environments, the panel discussion and questions that followed demonstrated clearly the value of these kinds of films. Some of the comments reflected a sense of being inspired by what other cities were doing...

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1 July 2018

Secular, Sacred, and Domestic—Living with Street Trees in Bangalore
Suri Venkatachalam, Bangalore Harini Nagendra, Bangalore

In rapidly growing Indian cities, change seems like the only constant. Heritage buildings are torn down, roads widened, lakes and wetlands drained, and parks erased to make way for urban growth. Nature is often the first casualty in a constant drive towards development. Yet the street tree stubbornly survives across...

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June, 2018

28 June 2018

Urbanists Should Not Ignore the Slow Creep of Climate Change on Resilience
Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, College Park

After decades of warnings and predictions, the effects of climate change are beginning to manifest themselves around us. On 27 May 2018, Ellicott City, Maryland experienced its second 1000-yr flood in two years after 8 inches of rain fell on the town in just two hours. This flooding is becoming...

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23 June 2018

Low Hanging Fruit? In Complex Systems Maybe it’s Better to Aim for the Higher Fruit
Sarah Hinners, Salt Lake City

Anyone who has participated in processes of planning, community development, advocacy and societal change more generally has probably engaged in an inevitable conversation about “low-hanging fruit”. (Perhaps there are similar idioms in languages other than English.) In my experience, it goes like this: there is a broader, inspiring conversation about...

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19 June 2018

Resilience is Not Always Good
Jose Puppim, Johor Bahru / Cambridge / Rio

Many practitioners and scholars have emphasized the importance of strengthening urban system resilience. However, a less explored area of work is the resilience that affects urban areas but in adverse ways. Weak governance, conflicts and lack of resources and capacity in many cities have detrimental environmental and human outcomes that...

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14 June 2018

A Walk Between Two Seas
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

I sit at a picnic table in a sliver of a park running alongside Istanbul Caddesi (street), not far from the Küçükçekmece Gölü, a natural lagoon on the Marmara Sea. It’s about noon on a Wednesday and, except for two ladies chatting on a bench a few meters away, I...

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10 June 2018

City Making and Maker City: The Edge is the New Center
Jay Valgora, New York

When I look at cities, I always think about the edges. Urban edges: the gaps, the voids, “messed up” sections, interstices, leftover pieces, polluted or forgotten areas; sites along waterfronts, highways, rail lines offer the greatest challenges in cities today. Edges also offer the greatest opportunity today—for innovative architectural and...

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7 June 2018

The Diverse Voices of Future Urban Environmental Educators
Cindy Thomashow, Seattle

This article describes a new approach to graduate studies, that works at the dynamic intersection of environmental issues and social justice. The Master of Arts in Education with Urban Environmental Education program out of Antioch University in Seattle, has attracted a very diverse student body, who illuminate daily the challenges,...

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3 June 2018

Saving a Sense of Place, Saving Our Home / 拯救地方感,拯救家乡
Yueyang Yu, Beijing Marianne Krasny, Ithaca

Sometimes, as we strive to embrace our future, we are quick to abandon our past. In the process of changing and growing, do we let go of those elements that formed the foundation of who we are, the things that tether us to the place we came from, or do...

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May, 2018

27 May 2018

Water is Everywhere in Georgetown, Guyana—Our Disrespect for it will Kill Us
Melinda Janki, Georgetown, Guyana

Guyana sits on what was once known as the “wild coast” of South America. The area was a dangerous swamp that struck terror in the hearts of European adventurers seeking the fabled city of El Dorado. Even Sir Walter Raleigh is rumoured to have come here in search of gold....

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