Nearby nature in the city: Preserving and enhancing livability

Source: OAI


Cities are often described as vibrant and exciting, fast paced and bustling. Yet cities also have tranquil places. Where might such places be? Perhaps beneath the canopy of a large tree, a vest pocket park, a colorful garden, or along a riverside trail. More than likely, such respites are nature places. They are unlikely to be nature on a grand scale; to some they may not even qualify as “nature.” Far from being untouched by humans, urban nature is at the mercy of people.

But at the same time, people are at the mercy of such nature. Nature plays a vital role in their lives – as indicated by volumes of poetry and by what is by now a substantial body of research. People are often passionate even about small bits of nature they find nearby. They nurture it, defend it, and mourn its loss.This document grew out of concern for such loss. Rather than mourn that nature is losing ground to infill, why not plan for having nature nearby while also planning for increasing urban density?

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Available from: Raymond K De Young, Jan 21, 2014
    • "An adequate living environment balances sensory inputs and provides a mix of responses that are both congenial and consistent with people's culturally and evolutionary conditioned needs to re-affirm identity (Hall, 1968; Herzog et al., 1976; Kaplan et al., 2007). As such, study of our immediate surroundings is especially important regarding the mainstream planning of our urban and rural environments or public health priorities (Lindheim and Syme, 1983; Frumkin et al., 2004; Hancock, 1985; Lalonde 1974) since they are readily accessible and experienced by many as an everyday part of life (Kaplan, 1983; Wolf, 2005; Westphal, 2003; Hibberd, 1989; Dwyer et al., 1991; Kaplan et al., 2007; Coles and Caserio, 2001). A range of authors seek to explain how we relate to our surroundings emphasising that it is what the landscape means that is important and that the landscape is given meaning by the individual in the context of their experience. "
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    ABSTRACT: Work investigates the everyday experience of urban landscapes to explore the individual meanings associated with landscape encounters aiming to provide greater clarity regarding the role/functioning of everyday environmental elements within the urban scene. In particular, it explores the concept and formation of 'loops', ie the reflexive cycle of sensory input and construction of meaning associated with engagement in the landscape, how they are specific to individual experience and the subsequent positive, meaningful outcomes. Ideas are developed through the presentation of two researched case studies involving the collection of qualitative data which involve- residents' perceptions of street trees in a residential environment in SW England and - user experience of the central canal-scape of Birmingham, UK. It considers how users react to these landscapes, how their use supports individuals in terms of their personal identities and their requirements to engender a highly positive interaction. The study uses dat derived from a variety of methodologies, including survey questionnaires, interviews, walking and talking methods, as well as self narrated walking to present a range of information. The findings suggest that a shift change is required in the ways that we evaluate users' experiences of the environment to consider impact in the specific context of individual identities, to embrace methodologies which are capable of revealing their deep meaning and importance of these elements to the individual. Ideas are summarised to help explain the formation of perception loops that are associated with high levels of interaction/synergy between the environment and the individual.
    Urban Ecosystems 12/2013; 16(4):819-839. DOI:10.1007/s11252-013-0327-y · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There has, historically, been considerable uncertainty over the meaning of ‘urban nature’ and, therefore, the extent to which culture and nature are bound in the urban setting. We explore, in this paper, the spatiality of everyday nature as experienced by youth in an urban setting. To do so, we draw on the results of a participatory mapping activity that was designed to elicit information about where youth felt most connected to nature while in the city. Using sketch-map survey instruments, we collected hand-drawn responses from forty-three high school students in the downtown core of Tacoma, Washington. Data were digitized and analyzed in a GIS, and results were revealing of the contingency of the ‘nature’ concept in urban space as well as the centrality of ‘loose’ space to urban experiences that are evocative of being in nature.
    Social & Cultural Geography 12/2012; 13(8). DOI:10.1080/14649365.2012.735690 · 1.28 Impact Factor