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Brighton & Hove became the world’s first designated One Planet City on 18 April 2013 when the city’s Sustainability Action Plan officially received independent accreditation from BioRegional for its plans to enable residents to live well within a fairer share of the earth’s resources. BioRegional is an award winning charity with an international reputation for developing sustainable solutions.
If (like me) you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long, then you really ought to get up, find the nearest park, and go for a nice walk.
Writing about the paper, Richard Coyne (Researcher at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh) says the work shows the public benefits of investing in greenery:
"Our study has implications for promoting urban green space to enhance mood, important in encouraging people to walk more or engage in other forms of physical or reflective activity. More green plazas, parkland, trees, access to the countryside, and urban design and architecture that incorporates more of the atmosphere of outdoor open space are all good for our health and wellbeing."
Written by the founders of Food Tank; 13 resolutions for changing the food production system.
Growing in Cities: Food production doesn’t only happen in fields or factories. Nearly one billion people worldwide produce food in cities. In Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, farmers are growing seeds of indigenous vegetables and selling them to rural farmers. At Bell Book & Candle restaurant in New York, customers are served rosemary, cherry tomatoes, romaine, and other produce grown from the restaurant’s aeroponic rooftop garden. Creating Better Access: People’s Grocery in Oakland and Fresh Moves in Chicago bring mobile grocery stores to food deserts giving low-income consumers opportunities to make healthy food choices. Instead of chips and soda, they provide customers with affordable organic produce, not typically available in their communities.
"Citizens become participants in data collection without having to alter their normal routines," Fawkes said. The goal in such cases is less to create scientific data than to create "good-enough data," Fawkes said, that such information could help get the U.N. started in taking a closer look at local needs and developing response plans. Quickly collected crowd-sourced data can enable early interventions and the implementation of social safety nets that can bring quick aid to a disaster zone or political crisis and thereby prevent long-term damage to communities.
I tend to employ a definition more often used by those in the environmental justice movement–that the environment is the space in which we live, work, and play. It includes our parks and schools, shops and workplaces, our homes and backyards. Environmentalism includes the health effects of children living by freeways, the planning of a new sub-division in a city, the vegetables grown in the yard of a rural or urban home. Without understanding our environment as something in which we are a part, the chasm between “people” and “place,” “society” and “environment,” will continue to loom large.
I would like to argue that such a dichotomy is not, and must not be true; and that privileging the land over people, or vice versa, is not a “sustainable” behaviour. Yet all too often, it appears that one side of the equation is left out, depending on what sphere of influence one happens to travel within. Social justice is often a forgotten cast-off in the environmental sphere, while environmental impacts become minimized by those privileging a social lens. Each side believes they are justified.
"We feel the greatest hope for fundamental change starts with the foundation for the future -- our youth -- so the Food Fight team combined music and film with a school curriculum, to help teachers engage students on the most pressing issues we face, in a unique way.The flaws of our global economy are best exposed by looking at our food system -- soil-depleting and oil-depleting factory farming, economic policies that contribute to starvation abroad, and disease and obesity at home, all packaged with a marketing campaign to enforce the "buy first, ask never" social contract -- just buy what they say to buy, and eat/shut up.
If we care about our kids, ourselves, and our planet, it's time to expose the truth on a broader scale, and hope enough Food Fighters step up to make the changes we need."
SHARE IT? Accompanying FREE CURRICULUM, LYRICS & SONG DOWNLOAD at http://SosJuice.com/foodfight ;
A little more than 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav "Molai" Payeng began burying seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in northern India's Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavor, so he moved to the site where he could work full-time creating a lush new forest ecosystem. Incredibly, the spot today hosts a sprawling 1,360 acres of jungle that Payeng planted — single-handedly. The Times of India recently caught up with Payeng in his remote forest lodge to learn more about how he came to leave such an indelible mark on the landscape.
It all started way back in 1979, when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng, only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life.
"The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested," says Payeng, now 47.
A new study finds that urban minds don't pay as much attention to their surroundings unless they're highly engaging.
30 Jan 2013
It's often noted that people from smaller towns prefer a slower pace of life and people from large cities enjoy the hustle and bustle more. So does the urban environment change how we handle the vast quantity of information in major metropolitan areas? This article points to data that says it does.
Tags: rural, housing, urban, planning, density, urbanism, unit 7 cities.
A recently released video by the American Society of Landscape Architects uses case studies from edible-city innovators, such as Cleveland and Detroit, to offer practical advice for bringing urban farms to your backyard (or corner lot or rooftop). Here are four helpful tips:
Use your roof.
Fill up your food trucks.
07 May 2012
The xenophobia underlying current immigration policy has three consequences for the U.S. technology industry. First, the know-how for all sorts of new companies is being expelled from America. Second, it makes it even harder to fill the job vacancies at existing U.S. based semiconductor, biotech, networking and software companies. Third, it means that University labs, which have sown the seeds for so many commercial breakthroughs of the past seventy-five years, are deprived of the young faculty members who can be counted on for bursts of inspiration and originality. In the massive global IQ competition, the United States is shooting itself in the foot. (...)
This year, three in ten students at MIT and four of every ten of its graduate students are either not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. These ratios are echoed at the best engineering and medical schools in the country. Our universities brim with opportunity for America and it would only take a few modest tweaks to improve the situation. This is a case where a small number of people bring a disproportionate benefit to millions.
Studio Gang Architects—run by Jeanne Gang, 48, and her husband, Mark Schendel wants to bring a “more wild version” of nature into cities. Her project for Chicago’s Northerly Island is under way.
This fall, Chicago broke ground on Gang’s biggest designed wilderness to date: Northerly Island. The plan, devised by Gang in collaboration with the landscape architecture firm SmithGroupJJR, fashions a public park out of Meigs Field, a former airport on a 91-acre man-made peninsula just off the southern tip of downtown Chicago. There will be beaches, woodlands, wetlands, and a prairie region. An archipelago of islands and reefs will be constructed to protect the peninsula from Lake Michigan’s waves. The arc will enclose a half-mile-long harbor perfect for fish as well as for divers and kayakers. (...)
The park’s completion will fuel an estimated $1.4 billion worth of nearby projected residential development by 2015. “If you follow the story of these major, signature urban parks and you look at the real estate benefits of the surrounding area—phenomenal,” says Mitchell.
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert found that by digging through dumpsters behind grocery stores he could scavenge more than enough to feed his family.
Seifert learned about food waste when he started scavenging in dumpsters behind grocery stores and found what he thought was perfectly edible food– everything from fresh, organic blueberries, to imported German cheese. He started eating the food and feeding his family with it– even his pregnant wife. (...)
Seifert made a documentary about his dumpster diving, called “DIVE: Living Off America’s Food Waste,” and in it he calls on others to join his movement “to end food waste.”
Seifert petitioned grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Vons to donate more food waste to shelters or pantries. Some individual stores were donating, but entire chains had not committed- a step that Seifert is still advocating. (...)
“I want dumpsters to be empty and stomachs to be filled. I’m not advocating dumpster diving… There’s a broken system and we need to change something at a fundamental, systemic level,” he said.
Humans began to live in urban settlements about 7 thousand years ago. As humans continued to evolve over the millennia, so too did our cities.
Now that the majority of humans live in cities, we're going to be confronting a new set of problems in urban life. For one thing, natural disasters in cities can cause much greater numbers of fatalities than in sparse, rural communities. So the cities of tomorrow will need to be robust against many kinds of disaster, from earthquakes and floods, to radiation bombardment. It's possible that many cities will built partly under ground, and partly under water. They might even be built inside a single building surrounded by farms. Not only will such structures allow us to conserve space, but layers of earth and water are excellent protection against radiation.
Many future-minded designers and architects believe that cities of the future will survive these kinds of disasters partly by changing the materials we use to build. Instead of dead trees, we'll use living ones, combined with genetically modified algae and other plants that could purify water and air, as well as provide energy. In a recent book,Rachel Armstrong has described what she calls "living architecture," where cities are built with semi-living materials that can repair their own cracks and heal themselves when damaged by a quake or just regular wear and tear. She proposes rescuing Venice from drowning by engineering a living reef underneath the city. It would be made with calcium-extruding protocells that latch onto the city's existing piles, strengthening them and attracting living creatures whose shells will eventually turn into a true ocean reef.
"That’s the plan of New York’s Niagra Falls. In the hopes of staunching its population decline and bringing a new generation of engaged youth, the city is accepting applications for urban pioneers willing to move in exchange for a little debt relief."
Kimberly Coburn, who founded The Homestead Atlanta, explains why 'old-school' is making a comeback with the modern homesteading movement.
Is there a difference in curriculum for a folk school in a city compared to one serving more rural regions?
To be honest, that's something we'll have to see moving forward. For the most part, no — sustainability and the ability to care for yourself with aesthetic integrity are of equal value whether you're living on 20 acres or in a high-rise. Of course, certain concessions have to be made and alternative approaches explored to compensate for the lack of time and space facing most urban dwellers, but what is lost in land availability is made up for by availability of resources and community. If, for instance, you took a beginning blacksmithing class with The Homestead Atlanta and really wanted to continue learning, there are a surprising number of forges scattered across the city. One significant difference I've noticed between urban and rural regions in terms of this kind of education is that many of the lost arts were never entirely lost in rural areas. Plenty of people — whether by choice or necessity — maintain a "fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" ethic while urban culture seems increasingly dependent on the temporary and the disposable. All the more reason, then, to offer education where it's needed most.
PlanIt is a game about the issues that face local government, designed to get people (especially young people) more involved and understanding of what goes in to managing their communities.
It works like this: A group--say, a planning commission or small business--puts up a few hundred dollars for community investment. Players register on the PlanIt platform, and take part in three "missions." To win pledgeable "coins," they complete "challenges" within each mission. Then the projects with the most pledged coins get real cash to spend.
About half the players so far have been under 18. Gordon says younger people add a lot of competitive spirit, and are important for encouraging others to play. "This is their first introduction to anything to do with civic engagement. They provide really meaningful input into these issues. And not only that, they also tend to motivate the adults."
Urban farmers in Africa are increasingly being recognized as important contributors to the green sector.
... more small farmers are needed to make Africa self-sufficient, IFAD’s 2011 Rural Poverty Report stated. Although the farms are small, they must work efficiently as businesses.
“Smallholder farming can offer a route out of poverty for many,” IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze noted in his report, “but only if it is productive, commercially oriented and well-linked to modern markets.”
The Allotment, a hotel whose culinary focus makes growing and cooking food the fundamental ingredient of the guest experience.
A “grow, teach, eat, and share” idea that links the necessary hotel functions of sourcing, food production, cooking, and serving, the Allotment is composed of four distinct elements–a market, restaurant, rooftop urban farm, and an off-site experience where guests explore the city’s culinary offerings with the hotel’s chefs.
How can can adults nurture children’s capacity to “connect the dots” through everyday conversations and activities? How can educators build an environment that leads children to see the patterns that make a difference? In this article, educator and writer Linda Booth Sweeney points out that thinking about systems means paying attention to the interrelationships, patterns, and dynamics that surround us – and that children are naturally attuned to this. In cultivating systems literacy, you build upon this natural understanding to help promote this integrated way of thinking for the children in your life.
More natural environment can soften the blow of toxic stress in early childhood.
A growing body of primarily correlative evidence suggests that, even in the densest urban neighborhoods, negative stress, obesity and other health problems are reduced and psychological and physical health improved when children and adults experience more nature in their everyday lives. These studies suggest that nearby nature can also stimulate learning abilities and reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and we know that therapies using gardening or animal companions do improve psychological health. We also know that parks with the richest biodiversity appear to have a positive impact on psychological well-being and social bonding among humans.
Earlier this month, national security scholar Patrick Doherty published a proposal in Foreign Policy magazine for America’s next “grand strategy,” a plan for how the U.S. should reposition itself in a world defined less by threats from communism or terrorism and more by the global challenge of sustainability. His offering is among a crop of such foreign policy tracts all aiming big ideas at the newly re-inaugurated president.
These treatises usually have little to do with the more prosaic problems of cities, with housing or transportation or unemployment. But part of Doherty’s particular argument snagged our attention: He believes a central piece of American security and strength in the 21st century will reside in walkable neighborhoods.
Walkability, as we typically think of it in cities, is deeply connected to sustainability, public health and economic development. But foreign policy? That was a new one even for us.
Doherty’s basic idea is that pent-up demand for such communities could help power a new American economic engine in the same way that suburban housing (and all of the consumption that came with it) made America economically and globally powerful in the Cold War era.
31 Jan 2013
GROWTH, unemployment, industrial production—data for comparing countries is in rich supply. But if economists want to analyse and contrast cities, they have less to go on: most information is not standardised and is thus hard to compare. This is a problem, given the world’s rapid urbanisation and cities’ ever growing economic weight: the UN expects the urban population to double between 2010 and 2050, from 2.6 billion to 5.2 billion.
A new book goes some way toward remedying this deficit: “Planet of Cities”, by Shlomo Angel*, a professor of urban planning at New York University. To make “a modest contribution toward a science of the city”, Mr Angel and his colleagues generated a lot of comparable data on things such as urban expansion, population density and open space. (...)
On average, cities of all population sizes are growing at the same rate. Population densities have been in decline for more than a century—and not just in rich countries, where many cities have sprawled. It also seems to be a global norm that half of a city’s footprint is not built up. And the distribution of cities within a given country indeed follows the “law” that George Zipf, an American researcher, discovered in the 1940s: that the largest city is always about twice as big as the second largest, three times as big as the third largest, and so on. (...)
The book, however, is much more than an interesting exercise in urban statistics. Mr Angel does not hide his agenda: he wants to demonstrate that the movement of people into cities cannot be stopped; trying to slow down urbanisation and even stop it will produce all kinds of unpleasant side effects, he argues, not least driving up housing prices—which hurts the poor the most. (...)
Rather than copying such efforts to limit urban expansion, as some environmentalists advocate, rapidly growing cities in developing countries should take a page from New York and Barcelona, says Mr Angel. In the 19th century both cities decided to prepare themselves for rapid growth. In 1811 New York’s city council approved a plan which allowed all of Manhattan to be built up and included the island’s now famous street grid. In 1859 Barcelona followed suit with a similar concept to expand the city nine-fold.
Cities across the world, due to their rapid population growth and large-scale developmental and economic investments, are at high risk from the impacts of climate change.
Though facing serious issues, cities can offer solution by evolving climate resilience strategies which can go a long in reducing their vulnerability and ensuring sustainable development. In view of this, it is crucial to develop urban climate resilience plans that can prepare cities to face the consequences of extreme weather events like urban flooding, public health crisis and the like. Understanding the urgency, The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), part of a $59 million, 7-year climate change resilience initiative supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, was launched in 2009 to create climate resilience strategies and action models in 10 cities across four countries in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India).
Whole Kids Foundation, PACT and Indiegogo have joined forces to create an inspiring crowdfunding initiative: building 100 urban gardens across the United States. This is the first time a non-profit, a brand and a global crowdfunding platform have partnered to help drive change in local communities around the country.
Whole Foods' non-profit arm will facilitate each grant and provide online resources, while PACT, an organic apparel company supporting global causes, will provide physical perks in exchange for donations. Indiegogo will provide the platform through which donations can be made until Feb. 28.
In broadest terms, giving the population access to municipal data doesn't just generate apps, it changes the relationship between citizen and city. "It's greater than applications," said Jay Nath, chief innovation officer for the City of San Francisco. "For me, it's almost a new type of civic engagement."
That's the ethos that guides Code for America, which serves as a developer version of the Peace Corps for federal, state and local government. The nonprofit teams volunteer developers, known as fellows, with municipalities looking to create new apps and services with their data.
One signature Code for America app is Boston's Adopt a Hydrant program, which solved a persistent and dangerous city problem -- hydrants plowed in after snowstorms -- by pairing concerned citizens with individual hydrants to maintain. Honolulu uses the same model to deputize citizens to make sure the tsunami warning sirens near their homes have working batteries.
In total, Code for America has partnered with 11 American cities, developing and brainstorming apps similar to Boston's. "You can demonstrate to the large bureaucracy, 'This is what you get when you open up data,'" said Mark Headd, government affairs director for the organization
by Jason Slotkin
11 Jan 2013