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  • March 19, 2017

    Shaped by Urban History—Reflections on Bangkok
    Richard Friend, Bangkok

    It takes distance to gain a sense of perspective, and so I find myself sitting in a small market town in the north of England looking halfway across the world at my time living in one of the world’s great...

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    January 18, 2017

    Can a City Be Sustainable?
    Paul Downton, Melbourne

    A review of Can a City Be Sustainable? By Gary Gardner, Tom Prugh, and Michael Renner. 2016. Island Press.  Buy the book. This compact volume is an ambitious portmanteau of information on sustainable urbanism that covers an impressive range of issues and amply...

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    January 8, 2017

    The Real Dirt on Urban Compost
    Sven Eberlein, Oakland

    “Why isn’t every city doing this?” Dave Vella asks as he intently massages a handful of succulent compost from the towering pile freshly deposited onto his vineyard’s gravel thoroughfare. Dressed in jeans and denim shirt, the veteran Grape Manager of...

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    December 28, 2016

    Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2016
    David Maddox, New York City

    Today’s post celebrates highlights from TNOC writing in 2016. These contributions, originating around the world, were widely read, offer novel points of view, are somehow disruptive in a useful way, or combine these characteristics. Certainly, all 550+ TNOC essays and roundtables are...

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    November 20, 2016

    A Barley Field Grows on Soviet Concrete
    Andrea Tamm and Ann Press, Tallinn

    In the summer of 2016, the largest Soviet-era residential area of Estonia was living a new life. The district Lasnamäe, including Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, was built in the late 70s, but it has fallen into stagnation. Little has changed...

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    September 14, 2016

    Swarms in the City
    Valerie Gwinner, Nairobi

    The final night of the European Soccer Cup in July, 2016, brought together some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fans. France, the hosting team, was hoping to ride a wave of wins to capture their third Eurocup title,...

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    August 21, 2016

    Farmers, Chefs, and Lawyers: Building an Ecology of One
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul

    We live in an ecology of separation. Our human-built ecology is today so far separated from the earth’s ecology that it is impossible for sustainability—let alone environmental and social well-being—to be achieved within it. This is where we are as...

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    August 17, 2016

    Chicks in the City
    Valerie Gwinner, Nairobi

    Urban livestock has long been viewed as dirty, unsafe, and decidedly un-modern by both policymakers and members of the general public. Yet, for many people living in and near the cities of developing countries, animals are a key source of...

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    August 3, 2016

    Water as a Commons in Detroit, the Great Lakes, and Beyond
    Rebecca Salminen Witt, Detroit

    For a state surrounded by fresh water, Michigan, in the northern United States, certainly has had its share of water woes lately. Michigan’s water has always been our crowning glory; from our geography to our automobile license plates, the Great...

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    June 7, 2016

    How Edible is My City?
    Naomi Tsur, Jerusalem

    I find myself choosing the title for this contribution at a time of personal, public, and professional dilemma. Strangely, the dilemma stems from the need to vindicate the question itself. While it is perfectly acceptable to ask how green, how...

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    May 5, 2016

    School Partnerships are Key to Vibrant and Sustainable Cities
    Polly Knowlton Cockett, Calgary
    Janet Dyment, Hobart
    Mariona Espinet, Barcelona
    Yu Huang, Beijing

    Urban schools—any public, private, or charter schools delivering formal primary or secondary education—are key institutions in the shaping of vibrant and sustainable cities. Imagining such cities depends on the assumptions and ideologies of those involved in the transformation of urban...

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    April 8, 2016

    Confronting the Dark Side of Urban Agriculture
    Francois Mancebo, Paris

    How do you like roller coaster rides? I love them—provided that I am sitting in the operator’s cabin and not in one of the small, shaken carts frantically moving up and down. In two of my last posts, The Nurtured...

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    March 27, 2016

    Réinventer Paris: A Competition to Write History with Nature in Paris
    Nathalie Baumann, Basel

    “Réinventer Paris”, or “Reinventing Paris”, the architectural program initiated by Anne Hildago (the Socialist mayor of the French capital) in autumn 2014 does not lack ambition. When I first heard about it, I was surprised and couldn’t really believe it...

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    February 15, 2016

    Intertwining People, Nature, and Place with Quilts and Thread
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul

    A review of Earth Stories, an exhibition on view at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles now through February 28, 2016. The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is tucked into a rather plain looking beige building...

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    December 14, 2015

    Sowing the Seeds of Green Urbanism: ‘Spring is Here and the Time is Right for Planting in the Streets’
    Paul Downton, Melbourne

    A review of The Revolutionary Urbanism of Street Farm: Eco-Anarchism, Architecture and Alternative Technology in the 1970s, by Stephen E. Hunt. 2014. ISBN 978-1-906477-44-8. Tangent Books, Bristol. 246 pages, including 16 pages of illustrations. Visions of cities draped in vegetation...

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    September 27, 2015

    The Nurtured Golem: A Nantes Neighborhood Transforms Environmental Bad into Good
    Francois Mancebo, Paris

     At the end of my last post, Unintended Consequences: When Environmental “Goods” Turn Bad, I raised the idea that sometimes environmental “bads” can also turn good, and that it usually works better when nobody “looks”. I mean that this process...

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    September 16, 2015

    Social Practice Artwork: A Restaurant and Garden Serving up Connections to Urban Nature
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul

    Can an urban garden help us remember what it means to be human? Three months ago, we opened a slightly audacious restaurant and garden in a working-class suburb of Osaka, Japan with the intent of connecting people more deeply with...

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    May 13, 2015

    Regulating the Bee Buzz
    Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

    Most people would agree that honeybees need help. Concerns about their dwindling numbers and the pesticides used on the food they eat have rallied environmental activists around the save-the-bees cause. That increased awareness, combined with a host of other reasons...

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    May 13, 2015

    The City Bee. TNOC Podcast Episode 005
    Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona
    David Maddox, New York City

    Also available at iTunes. Story notes: (See the companion essay here.) Bees have always been a part of the city landscape. But something is happening in the world today that’s making their presence more noticeable. Whether it’s because people love honey or...

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    March 5, 2015

    Apples and Tomatoes: Comparing Community Gardens and Municipally Sponsored Urban Agriculture
    Mara Gittleman, Brooklyn

    A review of Public Produce: Cultivating our Parks, Plazas, and Streets for Healthier Cities, by Darrin Nordahl. 2014. Island Press, Washington. ISBN: 9781610915496. 224 pages. When Darrin Nordahl first published Public Produce: the New Urban Agriculture in 2009, most urban agriculture...

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