Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
January, 2020

18 January 2020

Placing Equity at the Center of the Urban Greening Agenda
Peleg Kremer, Princeton Annegret Haase, Leipzig Dagmar Haase, Berlin

Equity and Sustainability: a history of ideological convergence vs. practiced indifference The idea that equity is an important and indispensable part of sustainable development has been there from the early days. The intellectual basic for and actions taken towards sustainability are thought to be fundamentally fair and just—a world in...

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13 January 2020

And, Now What? Exploring what happens after a 16,000-kilometer walk across two continents
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

Those last few days in June, we could see Barcelona’s shape in the distance. The three chimneys from the old power plant. The slanted roof of the Forum. The towers from the Olympic village. The long stretch of beach reaching to the glass sail that is the W hotel. The...

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8 January 2020

Paseos Verdes: The Story of a Morning Walk and a Partnership for Greater Community and Watershed Health
Bruce Roll, Portland

Since its beginning fifteen years ago, the landscape conservation program called Tree for All (TFA) has found a home for more than 10 million native plants in the 750 square mile Tualatin River Watershed of  Northwestern Oregon. Over 700 projects have been completed along 140 river miles across 30,000 acres....

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1 January 2020

Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2019
David Maddox, New York

Today’s post celebrates some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2019. These contributions—originating around the world—were one or more of widely read, offering novel points of view, and/or somehow disruptive in a useful way. All 1000+ TNOC essays and roundtables are worthwhile reads, of course, but what follows will give you a...

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December, 2019

19 December 2019

Tree Planting in Green Urban Infrastructure
Graciela Arosemena, Panama City

Lea esto en español. The functions of today’s green are defined mainly by the needs that were conceived in the hygienist movement linked to the industrial city of the nineteenth century. Environmental pollution was the driving force behind public open spaces at that time, and at that time, the need...

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16 December 2019

A Storm in a Bioswale: Breaking Down Barriers to Nature-Based Solutions
Stuart Connop, London Caroline Nash, London

Nature-based solutions are emerging as a key mechanism for renaturing cities, yet barriers around evidence and effectiveness still stand in the way of widespread rollout across our urban landscapes. More by luck than design, we learned that a straightforward technical test of a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) retrofit scheme in...

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13 December 2019

Cities are the Perfect Laboratories for a Global Green New Deal
Sven Eberlein, San Francisco

It was only a year ago when the idea of a Green New Deal entered the American public sphere with a big splash. When a group of young activists, joined by an idealistic new crop of congresswomen, stormed the incoming house speaker’s office to demand nothing less than the wholesale...

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10 December 2019

Is Experimenting Natural in Cities? The Nature of Experiments and the Experiments with Nature
Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne

Experimentation is a way to bring new solutions or approaches to cities. As a researcher on sustainability and sustainability transitions, I believe that, if solutions are to be adopted and scaled to improve human and ecological conditions in our world, they require testing in the field, beyond closed-door labs but...

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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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