Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
October, 2022

24 October 2022

A picture of trees, grass, a walking path with people on it
They Didn’t Pave “Paradise”, They Ploughed It
Lincoln Garland, Bath

The Year 2007 marked the arrival of the Urban Millennium when most of the world’s population became urban for the first time in human history (UNDESA, 2009). The proportion is now at least 55% and the global urban population is predicted to increase by 2.5 billion over the next 30...

17 October 2022

A picture of a spider in a web hanging off a window and outdoor ceiling
Urban Spiders – Fuzzy Friends or Fearsome Foes?
Timothy Bonebrake, Hong Kong

Spiders are among my favorite urban neighbors. They’re flashy, charismatic, and they’re everywhere. Spiders also evoke a range of emotions and thoughts from their human cohabitants. If you see one in your house do you squish it? Do you capture it gently and relocate it? Do you run away screaming?...

12 October 2022

A garden with native flowers and trees
Natives in Exile—The Experience We Had Creating a Flower Garden Featuring Endemic Plant Species in the City
Nadezhda Kiyatkina, Moscow

Last year in spring, we came up with an idea of creating a flower garden that would only feature native plant species. Why is that both difficult and important? And what conclusions can we draw after a full year of watching the flower garden grow and seeing how both community...

5 October 2022

A garden full of flowers and tall plants
Landscapes Can Talk
Ashley Jankowski, Ann Arbor Joan Nassauer, Ann Arbor

It’s July. With the windows down, drive to the corner of Hudson Street and Netherwood Avenue. Pull into the driveway lined with Marigolds and with Morning Glories climbing the mailbox. You might miss the street sign, which is regularly hidden behind Sunflowers 10 feet high, but you can’t miss the...

September, 2022

28 September 2022

Can You Hear the Waves of Poverty?
Cha-Ly Koh, Kuala Lumpur

While the award-winning movie Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon-ho was iconic in many ways, a terrifying scene haunts me more often than others. The scene is one where the one of the central families of the movie, the Kims, rush back to their semi-basement apartment only to discover it is...

19 September 2022

A picture of a bird standing on a pile of sticks and a picture of a thicket of branches and twigs on a forest floor
How Big Is My House in the City? Animal Territory Size Inside Urban Areas
Luis Sandoval, San José

How big is your house and property? Is it smaller or larger than you want it to be? Or is it just the right size? Do your house and property give you all that you need? Do you live in a neighborhood with many neighbors or not enough? Are your...

3 September 2022

An AI-generated picture of a desert with a bug-looking creatures and a group of people behind them standing far away from spire-like structures
Species on the Move: Assisted Migration in an Era of Rapid Change
Daniel Phillips, Lubbock

In April of 2022, the New York Times ran a viral piece on its front page entitled Trying Everything, Including Lettuce, to Save Florida’s Beloved Manatees. It details a sordid tale of Floridian Manatees — sea cows — struggling for survival amid a riverine habitat polluted by industrial effluents and...

August, 2022

26 August 2022

A picture of a field full of trash and people standing next to it with bags
Challenges of Formal-Informal Collaboration in Lilongwe, Malawi
Andrew Hughes, Sheffield Jose Puppim, São Paulo

Informal organizational structures are commonly involved with greening efforts in cities, such as waste recycling and urban agriculture efforts. They are particularly relevant in cities of the Global South, where large percentages of the economy and labour are in the informal sector. Collaboration between the formal and informal sectors poses...

17 August 2022

Four pictures of people talking to each other underneath trees in different areas
Committing to Diversity in the Research on People’s Perceptions of Urban Nature
Camilo Ordóñez, Melbourne Janina Kowalski, Toronto

Many cities around the world are planning to enhance urban nature. For example, many global cities have promised to plant a million trees, such as Shanghai, New York, Singapore, and Miami, and there are large tree planting initiatives in Uttar Pradesh, Ethiopia, and China, among many others. But most of...

11 August 2022

Discovering Metropolitan Detroit’s Wild Side Through The Great Lakes Way
John Hartig, Windsor

The portion of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem stretching from southern Lake Huron through western Lake Erie is a unique urban refugium where the tapestry of life has been woven with elegance, where the music of life has been rehearsed to perfection for thousands of years, where nature’s colors are...

5 August 2022

Several different colored boxes with ideas surrounding biodiversity protection
What Are the Cities Doing to Protect Pollinators and the Biodiversity?
Ana Pinheira, Guimarães Guilherme Sequeira Braga, Guimarães

  Biodiversity faces increasing challenges with the development of cities. Land-use change, intensive agricultural management and pesticide use, invasive alien species, diseases, climate change, and environmental pollution are threatening bees and other pollinators. Helping them to survive means ensuring food security and maintaining healthy ecosystems. Nature conservation and the improvement...

July, 2022

24 July 2022

A large room with high arched ceilings, skylights, and a skeleton hanging from the ceiling while people stand around below
Charles Darwin and the Guy from Upstairs: A visit to the Natural History Museum
Joseph Rabie, Montreuil

At the end of November 2021, spending a few days in London, I paid a far too brief visit to the Natural History Museum. I had devoted the daylight hours to a survey of the skyscrapers burgeoning in the City’s business district and got to the museum just as the...

10 July 2022

A sparrowhawk sitting on pavement
Then Came the Crash
Andreas Weber, Berlin

I wasn’t in a good shape when I broke the sparrowhawk’s wings. A gray sky over Berlin, a cold eastern wind. An early March day that never had properly lighted up and already started to sink back into dawn. No rain, no snow, but this dry and uncomfortable wind. I...

June, 2022

29 June 2022

Photo Essay: Seoul and the Call of the Urban Wild
Patrick M. Lydon, Daejeon

In the most densely populated city in the developed world, people walk to work through a forest instead of driving in traffic. They take vacations on the metro, family picnics on the edge of a cliff, and routinely walk from their doorstep into a vast urban national park called Bukhansan....

20 June 2022

A picture of an outdoor space full of leaves with a sign reading "Please leave the leaves"
Blowing in the Wind: Leaf Blower Disservices for Human and Ecosystem Health in the City
Lidiya Beida, Toronto Felix Lambert, Inujuak Emma Despland, Montréal Rebecca Tittler, Montréal Carly Ziter, Montreal

Reconsidering leaf blowers Calls for the ban of leaf blowers in urban centers are on the rise, including community group initiatives, municipal bans, opinion pieces, and proposed state/provincial and national-level legislation. The reasons include noise pollution, particulates, and other conventional pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, and ecological disruption. Understanding the interconnected...

13 June 2022

A group of people walking on a path under trees
Heat Risks are Rising in Cities Worldwide — Here Is How to Plan for Urban Heat Resilience
Sara Meerow, Tempe Ladd Keith, Tucson

Cities everywhere are getting hotter. Globally, every year from 2013 to 2021 ranked among the 10 hottest on record due to climate change. Urban areas are generally warming at a faster rate than rural or natural areas due to the urban heat island (UHI), a phenomenon whereby the built environment...

6 June 2022

A diagram of how nbs effect community interactions
Three Lessons for Co-creating Nature-based Solutions: How Can We Build Natural Networks to Deliver the Deal With Stakeholders?
Shibeal McCann, Dublin Lodder Marleen, Rotterdam Paula Vandergert, London Kato Allaert, Rotterdam

More than half of the world’s population lives and works in diverse, bustling cities. And perhaps, if you are reading this blog, you have a desire to make these places we call home greener—it can be done with nature-based solutions! Quite often city-makers who want to implement nature-based solutions run...

May, 2022

30 May 2022

A picture of a close up of growing sprouts overlooking a building across the street
Can Permaculture Save the World?
Lamiaa Biaz, Paris

Like seeds planted in my brain The first time I ever heard about permaculture was in 2016. I discovered this life philosophy in the French documentaries “The World of Tomorrow” (by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent), and then in “A Quest for Meaning” (by Nathanaël Coste and Marc de la...

23 May 2022

A concept drawing of a park
Threading the Needle: Advancing Equitable Green Infrastructure Investments in US Cities
Will Allen, Chapel Hill

Dr. Ian Mell from the University of Manchester recently published an article in Frontiers in Sustainable Cities on the role of green infrastructure in cities as a tool for economic and ecological “regeneration”. Dr. Mell’s article is one of a series of articles in both the peer-reviewed and popular literature...

18 May 2022

COVID-19 as an Accelerator to Rethink the City
Ana Faggi, Buenos Aires

Urban public space has been a subject of rethinking for decades regarding its role as a catalyst for revitalization and as a promoter of social interaction. Thus, most cities have experienced substantial improvements which positioned them in a better ranking of liveable cities, since the type and quality of urban...

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