Essays Archive

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

30 June 2020

Four Recommendations for Greener, Healthier Cities in the Post-Pandemic
Takemi Sugiyama, Melbourne Nyssa Hadgraft, Melbourne Manoj Chandrabose, Melbourne Jonathan Kingsley, Melbourne Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne Neville Owen, Melbourne

The extensive societal changes brought about by COVID-19 restrictions have given pause for thought on how we can create healthier and more equitable cities as we transition to a new normal. Public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have meant that opportunities to go out and interact with...

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24 June 2020

The View from Our Windows: Our Social Ecologies of Sheltering in Place
Lindsay Campbell, New York Erika Svendsen, New York Laura Landau, New York Michelle Johnson, New York City

How do you conduct social science research about people’s relationship to place and the environment during shelter-in-place? Many are turning to big data—scraping social media, tracking cell phone use and movements, and these aggregated, digital data streams are providing key insights about mobility, vulnerability, and spatial patterns of the virus...

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22 June 2020

Depuis Ma Fenêtre / From My Window
Maxime Zucca, Paris

Read this in English.J’ai fait les chroniques confinées quotidiennes pendant la quarantaine parisienne, et voici quelques observations récentes de notre maison à Pantin, dans la banlieue nord-est de Paris. Les Mésanges charbonnières qui ont élu domicile dans le trou du mur de mes voisins ont quitté leur nid ce matin. Des six jeunes, un a fini...

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15 June 2020

Treading the Thin Line Between Individual Freedom and Social Change—Experiences and Lessons to Address the Global Pandemic
Franz Gatzweiler, Xiamen Manasi Kumar, Nairobi

This essay is a conversation between an economist and a psychologist who live and work in China and Kenya and who exchange observations and are despairing about the impact of COVID-19 on their individual and social lives. Both come to a common point in terms of how much of this...

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11 June 2020

THIRD LANDSCAPE, Part 1: For the Design of an Amazon Forest City
Anna Dietzsch, São Paulo

1 Proposition The logic of urban growth in the Brazilian Amazon could be changed if we succeeded in bringing together two different systems of thought and practices: that of the natural and indigenous, to that of technology and capital production. Together, they could guarantee the continued economic and environmental resilience...

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8 June 2020

We Had Forgotten That We Are Ecological Beings
Patrick M. Lydon, Osaka

It’s afternoon in the middle of the work-week, and our local park is filled with people as if it were a holiday. There are little kids wildly chasing pigeons, and slightly bigger kids carefully stalking beady-eyed herons. There are teenagers racing on foot along the pond, and families sitting on...

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4 June 2020

Why Defunding the Police is an Issue of Democracy and Public Space
Laura Landau, New York

In the first five months of 2020, we have seen enough change, chaos, and uncertainty to last a lifetime. The year began with a world on quite literally on fire, most notably in Australia. The news cycle was quickly upended when the novel coronavirus swept the globe. Now, police violence...

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May, 2020

29 May 2020

What Nature Is Telling Us…
Chantal van Ham, Brussels

Winter may seem a quiet season when it comes to bird sounds, but when we listen carefully we may hear the starling, one of the most cheerful whistlers in the world. Mozart had a starling for some time and enjoyed the delightful singing of his bird friend, who was able...

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25 May 2020

Lost and Found: A Companion Essay to the Art Works of Katrine Claassens
Nina-Marie Lister, Toronto

Before / Winter We are celebrating our 3-year friendship. Artist-climate activist and ecologist-designer. We met in Portland (a tip of two floral hats, and a gracious thank you to David and The Nature of Cities), a long way from Toronto and longer still from Cape Town. Our conversations have become...

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22 May 2020

If You’re Feeling Stressed in These Times of COVID-19, a Picture of Nature Can Be Restorative!
Meredith Dobbie, Victoria

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, where nature, at the best of times, can seem hard to find and enjoy. The restorative value of nature has long been acknowledged but how can we access it in these strange times of social distancing and isolation as COVID-19...

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18 May 2020

Native Versus Non-native: Which Plants are Best for Biodiversity?
Lincoln Garland, Bath

When evaluating or seeking to enhance the biodiversity interest of an urban greenspace, a key attribute to consider is its floral composition. Floral composition can be native, non-native or a variable mix of the two. A species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence...

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11 May 2020

The 6th Mass Extinction and Cities: A View from Vancouver
Christine Thuring, Vancouver

Behind the scenes of pandemic, and long before, we have been quietly witnessing the planetary-scale annihilation of life-supporting systems, the Earth’s “6th mass extinction”. Unlike the previous five, this is the first time a mass extinction is caused by a single species, in this case Homo sapiens. Along with the...

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4 May 2020

Enabling Access to Greenspace During the Covid-19 Pandemic—Perspectives from Five Cities
David Barton, Oslo Dagmar Haase, Berlin André Mascarenhas, Berlin Johannes Langemeyer, Barcelona Francesc Baro, Barcelona Christopher Kennedy, New York Zbigniew Grabowski, Millbrook Timon McPhearson, New York Norun Hjertager Krog, Oslo Zander Venter, Oslo Vegard Gundersen, Oslo Erik Andersson, Stockholm

There is now plenty of evidence on the benefits of local access to greenspace and greenviews on physical health and mental well-being. Lockdowns and social distancing advisories have placed restrictions on citizen normal access to public spaces. Google community mobility statistics from February-March revealed varied patterns of reaction to Covid-19 in...

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April, 2020

26 April 2020

Stunting Our Immediate Future: A Teenage Perspective on Covid-19 and Its Challenges
Vishisht Singhal, Delhi

The lessons learnt by teenagers today will assist us as global leaders of tomorrow, to make better and more informed decisions to prevent any such future epidemics. The Covid-19 crisis and widespread epidemic has infected more than a million people and is increasingly causing agony to billions. While the severity...

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22 April 2020

People Staying Home, Wildlife Occupying the Streets: Lessons from COVID-19 Lockdowns
Eleanor Diamant, Los Angeles Ian MacGregor-Fors, Xalapa Pamela Yeh, Los Angeles

With the massive migration of people from agricultural lands to cities over the last few centuries, an important change came to Earth: our total human population went from being mainly non-urban to being mostly urban at the beginning of the 21st Century1. While the concentration of people in the urban...

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17 April 2020

COVID-19: Flattening the Curve Means Getting Comfortable with Muddled Urban Systems
Buyana Kareem, Kampala

We live in, to say the least, a risky urban world. It is a historical fact that pandemics always impact cities differently. From the Athens plague in 430BC, which led to fundamental changes in city regulations and identities, to the Black Death in the Middle Ages, which disrupted class power...

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14 April 2020

Cities Are Not to Blame for the Spread of COVID-19—nor Is the Demise of Cities an Appropriate Response
Rob McDonald, Washington, DC Erica Spotswood, Oakland

We are all living a slowly unfolding tragedy, as Covid-19 (coronavirus) spreads in communities around the world, with (as of 26 April 2020) over 3 million confirmed cases and more than 210,000 deaths. This pandemic has led some to question the wisdom of living in cities. Dense urban settlement is...

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10 April 2020

The Art of Designing Meaningful Public-Science Collaborations
M'Lisa Colbert, Montreal

When many voices come together, they create a sound so loud it moves you. What you hear when you experience this is the very same thing that gives a good choir the power to deliver you from your sins—a powerful element called resonance. When two frequencies stream in harmonic proportion...

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6 April 2020

Are Universities and Students Allies in Climate Action?… Maybe.
Franco Montalto, Philadelphia and Venice

At a time when many national governments fail to recognize the urgency of climate action, universities have emerged as key subnational actors, well positioned to bring knowledge to action around this issue. While governments debate whether and how to act, universities can educate, empower, and inspire a new generation of...

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March, 2020

22 March 2020

The Green Cloud, A Rooftop Story from Shenzhen: A “Living” Sponge Space Inside an Urban Village
Vivin Qiang, Shenzhen Xin Yu, Shenzhen

用中文阅读 Shenzhen, a coastal city located in Southern China, exemplifies the idea of  rapid urbanization. In just 40 years, Shenzhen has transformed from a fishing village to a bustling megalopolis. Today, about 50% of Shenzhen’s 13 million residents live in its urban villages. These urban villages are some of the few...

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