Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
March, 2021

2 March 2021

Making Spaces for Edible Gardens in Compact Cities: the Taipei Case
Wan-Yu Shih, Taipei Che-Wei Liu, Taipei

Edible urban gardens have gained increasing popularity in the Global North within the narrative of nature-based solutions for cities and as parts of urban green infrastructure, which reintroduce greenspaces and associated functions into built environments, with the aspiration of leading to a socially and ecologically more sustainable city. Amid the...

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January, 2021

31 January 2021

Green Recovery’s Missing Piece: Engagement with Future World Leaders!
Vishisht Singhal, Delhi

This essay advocates for a unique “Youth Empowerment Based Green Recovery Programme” to be developed and adapted by governments to enhance long-term societal resilience. As we have collectively moved towards unlocking the lockdowns and quarantines that had been in effect since March 2020, the world’s attention has been gripped in...

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23 January 2021

Highlights from The Nature of Cities 2020
David Maddox, New York

Today’s post celebrates some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2020. 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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13 January 2021

Building Practitioner Networks to Better Support Kenyan Frontline Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis: Some Learnings and Reflections
Shillah Mwaniga, Nairobi Gitonga Isaiah, Maynooth Manasi Kumar, Nairobi

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates and the prevalence escalates, global health care systems become overwhelmed with patients who are either confirmed or suspected to be suffering from the disease (Chen et al., 2020). Frontline health care workers (HCWs) are required to work for long and irregular hours, with heavy workloads...

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8 January 2021

Antiracist Environmental Leadership in a Virtual World
Cindy Thomashow, Seattle

Our graduate students are figuring out how to best “immerse” themselves in city spaces while staying safe during the pandemic. Students find creative ways to both learn and practice while masked and distanced from community members. A positive outcome of being online is the ability to invite environmental activists and...

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3 January 2021

On Privilege as Choice
Hita Unnikrishnan, Sheffield

Two incidents stand out particularly from my memories as a young child. In the first one, I was perhaps 5 or 6 years old—at that age when we ran out of the housing colony and into the streets to play a game of hopscotch or whatever else took our fancy....

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December, 2020

22 December 2020

What is One Tree Worth?
Carly Ziter, Montreal

Writing this during National Forest Week here in Canada, I’m reflecting (as I frequently do) on the urban forest. As a scientist, I often find myself collapsing the beautiful, multidimensional, urban forest into a few general measurements: stand density, canopy cover, biomass, etc. But as an urban resident, I cherish...

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20 December 2020

Quarantine Fatigue and the Power of Activating Public Lands as Social Infrastructure
Lindsay Campbell, New York Erika Svendsen, New York Laura Landau, New York Michelle Johnson, New York City Sophie Plitt, New York

This essay is part three in a series. Since 13 March 2020, our team of social science researchers has been keeping a collective journal of our experiences of our New York City neighborhoods and public spaces during COVID-19. Read the essays from spring and summer here. 1. Winter is coming:...

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14 December 2020

The Hills Save Us
Diana Wiesner, Bogota

En español. Citizenship is derived from city, and floristry from forest or jungle. Forest and human being live a socio-ecological pact in which the forest becomes a new citizen respected in its integrity, stability, and extraordinary beauty. Both benefits, as the utilitarian logic of exploitation is abandoned and the logic...

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8 December 2020

Opportunity in Crisis: Ecojustice Education for Pandemic Resilience 
Scott Kellogg, Albany

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was widespread concern and uncertainty. How many people would get sick? How long would this last? Will I lose my home, my job? Will there be food shortages? There were also widespread shutdowns—schools, offices, restaurants, libraries, even the police were only responding to...

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4 December 2020

Ecosystems as a Framework for Urban Planning: Reconnecting. Rediscovering. Reinvigorating.
Jennifer Dowdell, Baltimore

If we peel back the layers of our urban infrastructure and examine the ecological patterns that originally formed the landscapes beneath our feet, we can shape more resilient cities through an interdisciplinary and inclusive urban design process based on the braided narratives of place: ecology, history, and culture. More than...

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1 December 2020

A Pattern Language for Urban Nature
Paul Downton, Melbourne

1 We are part of nature We are part of nature and we are interdependent with nature.   2 We think we can be separate from nature We cannot escape this interdependency. Even when we try, we are tied to living systems by umbilical cords of technology, constrained by natural...

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November, 2020

22 November 2020

Why Would the Economy Need Biodiversity?
Nadezhda Kiyatkina, Moscow

And What Grassplots, Amur Leopard, and Mold Have in CommonWhat is biodiversity for? Some don’t need that question answered: you just adopt a philosopher’s perspective, and everything becomes clear—all living things have the right to dwell on the planet. For others, the question is confusing. Those trying to find a quantitative answer to...

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21 November 2020

The Challenges for Innovating in Green and Blue Infrastructure: The Case of an Innovative Drainage Approach in Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Jose Puppim, São Paulo Carlos Rigolo, São Paulo Leon Rangel, São Paulo

Green and blue infrastructure (GBI), a form of nature-based solutions (NBS), can provide huge benefits for cities, as GBIs are innovative ways to connect biodiversity and people. Besides the direct functions that the infrastructure provides (e.g. flood prevention or cooling effect), there is also a series of co-benefits that nature...

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17 November 2020

Nairobi’s Rapidly Expanding Transport Network is Costing its Ecological Lifeline
Kevin Lunzalu, Nairobi

Since 2013, the government of Kenya has laid out extensive expansion plans for the city’s transport infrastructure. Nairobi County’s strategy lays out a progressive framework that has seen the introduction of Mass Rapid Transit Systems (MRTS), the standard gauge railway, connectors, and the expansion of several other feeder roads. The...

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9 November 2020

Inappropriate Infrastructure Can Make Green Spaces Unlivable
Ana Faggi, Buenos Aires Jose Luis Hryckovian, Buenos Aires

The urban matrix is dominated by the built environment that undoubtedly predominates over green infrastructures like domestic gardens, woodlands, tree-lined streets, squares, sports fields, and green corridors. Thus, cities must be seen as a complex system where the interacting gray, green, and blue elements cannot be analyzed individually. Proper handling...

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3 November 2020

What Can Policymakers Do to Enhance Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Cities?
Rodrigo Bellezoni, São Paulo Fanxin Meng, New Haven

Cities are almost entirely dependent on surrounding regions for food, water, and energy (FWE) to sustain urban population and activities. Sixty percent of the global population will live in cities by 2030, with 90% of urban growth in the coming decades likely to occur in low- and middle-income countries. Rising...

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October, 2020

26 October 2020

What I Know Now: The Need for “Good Trouble” to Build an Anti-Racist Science of Ecology
Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie

A meditation on race and ecology on the occasion of the death of U.S. Representative John Lewis.Representative John R. Lewis (1940-2020) was a hero of the civil rights movement in the United States. He was one of the six leaders of the famous 1963 March On Washington, a leader of...

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20 October 2020

The Next “Normal” City Must Be a Sustainable Habitat for Healthy Humans
Matteo Giusti, Gävle

“Stay home!” This is the imperative that has echoed across the planet in the last months. Everyone is at, and a, risk to themselves and others. And so we did. We mostly stayed at home. After a few days, we began to notice that our house, our cities, and our...

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6 October 2020

Parks are Critical Urban Infrastructure: The Use of Urban Green Space in New York City During COVID-19
Timon McPhearson, New York Christopher Kennedy, New York Bianca Lopez, Amherst Emily Maxwell, New York

Urban green spaces have long been a refuge for city dwellers, especially in times of crisis, but how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the use and importance of urban green and open spaces? Are they perceived or used differently during this time? Who has access historically, but also during COVID-19?...

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