Essays Archive

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

21 March 2022

A gathering of people at an outdoor table under an awning
Growing Food Together Is Healthy
Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Berber Bergstra, Wageningen

Nature and greenery are good for you; we all know that by now. But is it also possible to improve your health by actively seeking out greenery or by getting involved in greenery yourself? That is, can you improve your health simply by taking an action? This is something Wageningen...

2 March 2022

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a statue
Moving toward Anti-Racism in the Environmental Field
Cindy Thomashow, Seattle

This article is a statement of gratitude for experiences that have moved me toward antiracist environmental education. The last 20 years of my life have been a story of reckoning and awakening to pervasive racism and its effect on the environmental field. I was never taught the history of enslavement,...

February, 2022

25 February 2022

A scale made of leaves
This Changes Everything: New York’s Environmental Amendment
Rebecca Bratspies, New York

In November 2021, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted to add an environmental amendment to their state constitution. Section 19, which provides that “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment,” is now part of the New York Bill of Rights (the part of New...

11 February 2022

A digital model of a street with real life pictures of vendors incorporated
The Ecology of a Soi: Bangkok’s Generic Architecture from Inside-out
Brian McGrath, New York Vineet Diwadkar, Bangkok

Sois, or lanes, are the capillaries of Bangkok, Thailand. Like rectangular blocks in New York City, or piazzas in Rome, they constitute the architecture or the DNA of the city. For anthropologist Erik Cohen, a Bangkok soi constitutes an overlooked “semi-autonomous ecological sub-system” which comprise the “interstitial hinterland” between the...

January, 2022

20 January 2022

Highlights from The Nature of Cities 2021
David Maddox, New York

When we read unexpected and remarkable things, we smile, even laugh out loud, and think: yes, this makes sense; and I didn’t think of it before now. In this spirit, let us celebrate some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2021. These contributions from around the world were some combination...

18 January 2022

Embracing Diverse Concepts of Nature-based Solutions to Enact Transformational Change: A Perspective From the Early Career Working Group of the NATURA Network
Zbigniew Grabowski, Hartford Ffion Atkins, Cape Town Lelani Mannetti, Atlanta Clair Cooper, Durham Danielle McCarthy, Belfast Robert Hobbins, Atlanta Matt Smit, University Park Yuliya Dzyuban, Singapore Charlyn Green, Atlanta Yeowon Kim, Ottawa Hopeland P, Tamil Nadu Pablo Cantis, New York Luis Ortiz, New York

Governments and communities around the world are embracing Nature-based Solutions (NbS) as a major climate adaptation strategy. Building off of pre-existing approaches to integrating ecological and built systems, NbS attempt to meet a wide array of social goals including improving urban quality of life, supporting transit and recreation, and mitigating...

2 January 2022

Where Have All Our Gunda Thopes Gone? An Illustrated Story of Loss and Hope Around Peri-Urban Commons in Karnataka, India
Sahana Subramanian, Lund Neeharika Verma, Amherst Sukanya Basu, Göttingen Seema Mundoli, Bangalore Harini Nagendra, Bangalore

“Lakshmamma thought sadly of her grandchildren, growing up in the city, in a crowded slum with no thope to run around in or trees to climb.” This excerpt, from our bilingual book “Where have all our gunda thopes gone?”, is a story of loss and hope—loss of nature as a...

December, 2021

6 December 2021

Planning is Power: How Planning Shaped Colonial Realities in Occupied Palestine
Huda Shaka, Dubai

Urban planning often serves existing power structures to the detriment of the marginalized and as such has been used as a tool for racial segregation and discrimination in many contexts. As UCLA Professor Ananya Roy puts it: “Urban planning has repeatedly produced segregation and displacement”. Much has been written, for...

November, 2021

29 November 2021

When “Good Commons” Create “Bad Commons”
Praneeta Mudaliar, Mississauga

Can practices that produce “good” commons also create “bad” commons? In some instances, practices of commoning spaces that are neither public, private, nor common can also degrade these spaces. Mornings in my neighborhood of Wanowrie in Pune city, in the western state of Maharashtra, India are a charming sight. An...

18 November 2021

Dismantling Racism. Reimagining Richmond.
The Richmond Racial Equity Essays.

Ebony Walden, Richmond

The world is indeed a different place than it was when the idea for the Richmond Racial Equity Essays project was conceived in 2019. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, activism and increased awareness of racial inequities and injustice, the need for...

15 November 2021

The Wild Edges of Our Garden
Kirby Manià, Vancouver

One morning before school, my father hurriedly interrupted my sister and me at the breakfast table, with a look of mischief in his eye, and an instruction to follow him, quickly and quietly, into the garden.1 It was a relatively chilly morning, at least by the standards of generally sunny...

October, 2021

29 October 2021

Joseph Rabie, Montreuil

In the end, Humankind reverse-engineered the heavens and the world. And while there had been some semblance of order before, Humankind turned it all inside out, night became muddled with day, and day with night. Humankind took the carbon lodged in the darkness of the earth and expelled it into...

18 October 2021

La réinvention du parc Jean-Drapeau : un nouveau parc plus accessible, diversifié, public, et vert
Jonathan Cha, Montreal

To read this essay in another language, use Google Translate at the top of this page. Un grand parc contemporain modèle d’adaptation et d’innovation Le parc Jean-Drapeau, localisé en face de Montréal, sur le fleuve Saint-Laurent, fait partie de l’arrondissement de Ville-Marie et de l’archipel d’Hochelaga. Situé sur un territoire...

September, 2021

28 September 2021

Green Infrastructure is Infrastructure: Future Opportunities for Nature in Cities
Will Allen, Chapel Hill

“Both [US political] parties agree: Trees are infrastructure. The bipartisan infrastructure deal moving through the Senate includes at least $5.75 billion for restoring, monitoring and researching forests, according to the legislative text and summary. Beyond money, the package also includes policies that could make it easier to prepare for wildfires....

10 September 2021

Two Reflections: Thinking About Blackness, Ecology, and Architecture in the United States
Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie Brian McGrath, New York

Read Brian McGrath’s reflection. Does architecture have a “color”? by Steward Pickett Does architecture have a “color”? In the United States, the answer seems to be yes. Architecture in the U.S. has been practiced largely by and for white people. Indeed, Glenn Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art...

August, 2021

31 August 2021

Repenser la protection de la nature dans le contexte des Objectifs du Développement Durable
Rethinking Nature Protection in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals

Stéphanie Lux, Paris Elisabeth Chouraki, Paris Ingrid Coetzee, Cape Town

Read this in English. Repenser la protection de la nature dans le contexte des Objectifs du Développement Durable en articulant action locale et régionale avec les politiques nationales et internationales Un constat sans appel Sur la base des listes rouges produites par l’UICN, le Chief scientist de l’IUCN, Thomas Brooks...

30 August 2021

Nature Fix for Healthy Cities: What Planners and Designers Need to Know for Planning Urban Nature with Health-benefits in Mind
Takemi Sugiyama, Melbourne Farahnaz Sharifi, Melbourne Zirui Yao, Canberra Prabhasri Herath, Canberra Niki Frantzeskaki, Utrecht

What the pandemic we live in revealed is something we knew, experienced, but had not well-evidenced at scale: nature in cities is fundamental for maintaining and regaining our physical and mental health. There is a broad literature on the benefits of green space for promoting physical activity and health, reducing...

23 August 2021

Bat Reputation
Gitty Korsuize, Utrecht

Bats — “they live in the dark, they eat your blood, they fly in your hair, and they spread diseases like Ebola”. At least that is what stereotypes have painted them to be Most people do not know much about bats. Since COVID-19, the reputation of bats is even worse...

17 August 2021

Auto-rewilding Birdlife Along the Bath River Line
Lincoln Garland, Bath

The River Avon Most visitors to the city of Bath in the West of England come to enjoy its grandiose Georgian crescents, terraces, and squares, and Roman-built baths, which have been beautifully crafted from the locally mined honey-colored oölitic limestone. Indeed, the city’s magnificent architecture and Roman remains have been...

3 August 2021

Soul and the City: Re-Establishing our Relational Capacity Beyond COVID-19
Martina Artmann, Dresden Kathi Artmann, Nuremberg

Aren’t we living in crazy times? It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic may never end. Home office, covering our faces with masks and social distancing have suddenly become part of our daily routine. In the beginning of the first lockdown, the world outside seemed so near due to the various...

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