Essays Archive

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

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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22 May 2018

George Barker 1940-2018: A Tribute
David Goode, Bath

George Barker, who died on 1 May 2018, will be remembered fondly by all who worked with him. He was a modest man, always full of fun, yet he was one of the most influential figures in the development of urban nature conservation in the UK and was held in...

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16 May 2018

Making Parks Relevant: Muir Woods as a Museum that Invites Multiple Narratives
Laura Booth, San Francisco

At Muir Woods National Monument, an old-growth redwood forest a half hour’s drive north of San Francisco, more than a million people a year from around the world flock to visit ancient, giant trees. These visitors largely believe they are coming to a beautiful, living example of a thriving and...

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13 May 2018

Map and Explore: Hidden Hydrology
Jason King, Portland

Our cities are filled with hidden stories. Some of these tales are unlocked through conversations with long-time residents and oral histories, while others emerge through the written word, embedded in documents and biographies from the shapers and boosters that made our cities. Some hide in maps, a chronology of layers...

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8 May 2018

Over the Years We Grow: National Scale Progress in Engagement and Research at Tree Canada
Adrina Bardekjian, Montreal

Over the past four years in leading the Engagement and Research portfolio at Tree Canada, I have had the opportunity to watch the organization grow, contribute to designing programs that move beyond tree planting efforts, and to create a network of knowledge sharing for Canada’s urban forests. I am pleased...

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5 May 2018

Enabling Efficient Urban Biodiversity Monitoring Through Modern Natural History and Citizen Science
Timothy Bonebrake, Hong Kong

The escalator that stretches from Victoria Harbour in central Hong Kong to the high-priced mid-levels neighborhood accommodates approximately 70,000 commuters daily. Surrounded by tall buildings, you would not at first glance expect to find much in the way of life other than never-ending humanity. However, even on this congested pathway...

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April, 2018

29 April 2018

Neural Networks—A New Model for “The Kind of Problem a City Is”
Mathieu Hélie, Montréal

Jane Jacobs’ final chapter of Death and Life of Great American Cities, titled “The Kind of Problem a City Is”, remains its most misunderstood. The principal ideas of the book have become the mainstream of urban know-how and helped the triumphant turnarounds in the fortunes of American cities, most notably...

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25 April 2018

Tracking Resilience Trade-offs: Let’s Build a Crowdsourced Global Database
Lorenzo Chelleri, Barcelona Sara Meerow, Tempe

In recent years, city plans, international organizations, private foundations, and policy discourse more broadly have presented resilience as a necessary characteristic for communities to cope with natural hazards and climate change. Numerous cities around the world are now developing resilience strategies or implementing policies with the stated aim of becoming more resilient. Resilience...

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21 April 2018

Positive Visions for Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Cities
Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Tempe David Iwaniec, Atlanta Nancy Grimm, Phoenix Timon McPhearson, New York

It is beginning to feel like the anticipated future under climate change is even closer than we once thought. After a particularly harsh hurricane season in North America and following another year of record high global temperatures in 2017, many people recognize that we are entering a new climate reality. Current...

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17 April 2018

Trees are Breath
Andreas Weber, Berlin

In the last days, with the air finally above the freezing point, and the grey silhouettes of the barren twigs dripping with fine silvery moisture against the faint morning light, I have been drawn into the forest. Every morning, I unlocked the chain securing my bike to a low metal...

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14 April 2018

A Sense of Wonder: The Missing Ingredient to a Long-Term Value for Nature?
Bronwyn Cumbo, Sydney Marthe Derkzen, Amsterdam

“For the child….it is not half as important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.” —Rachel Carson, 1965, p.58. The natural world...

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9 April 2018

Westward Wandering and Wondering
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

Thinking of home turf as we start a new phase of the Bangkok-Barcelona journey My mind always wanders forward. Even as my footsteps ground me in the present, I can’t help but wonder what lies ahead. We’re still technically in Asia, on the side of the line that divides Turkey...

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5 April 2018

Cities of Difference, Part II: Shifting Identities, Diverse Communities and Urban Nature
Julian Agyeman, Medford Laura Shillington, Managua & Montreal

This article was adapted from an article by Julian Agyeman [i]. Cities of difference are places where we are “in the presence of otherness”, as Sennett puts it—namely, our increasingly different, diverse, and culturally heterogeneous urban areas.[ii] Difference is, in my opinion, a more expansive and useful concept than diversity, which...

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2 April 2018

What’s Under the Car Hood? Looks Like Good News for Stormwater Pollution
Emily Wier, New York

The literature has established that electric vehicles are better for the environment—they produce less pollution than a conventional gas vehicle, regardless of the electricity mix used to fuel the vehicle.[1] They are more efficient, and in part thanks to many state policies[2]—the costs of ownership are decreasing and the vehicles are...

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March, 2018

29 March 2018

The Sheffield Street Tree Massacre: Notes from a Public-Private Partnership Gone Wrong
Christine Thuring, Sheffield

Often described as Europe’s greenest city, Sheffield is reputed to have more trees per capita than any other, with over 100,000 trees spread across parks and open spaces, 10.4 percent woodland by area, and approximately 36,000 street trees. However, a public-private partnership (P3) is dramatically altering Sheffield’s urban forest. The various particulars of the...

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26 March 2018

Protecting More with Less: More Nature in Cities with the Science of Strategic Conservation
Will Allen, Chapel Hill

Not long ago, cities and nature were usually seen as two separate things. Thankfully nature and cities are now being acknowledged as inextricably linked, and an exciting and expanding movement is emerging to invest in green infrastructure that helps make cities sustainable, resilient, and livable. Billions are spent annually around...

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