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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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The Real Reason Cities Are Centers of Innovation

The Real Reason Cities Are Centers of Innovation | green streets | Scoop.it

Throughout human history, people have long found unique value in living and working in cities, even if for reasons they couldn’t quite articulate. Put people together, and opportunities and ideas and wealth seem to grow at a more powerful rate than a simple sum of all our numbers. This has been intuitively true for centuries of city-dwellers.


"What people didn’t know," says MIT researcher Wei Pan, "is why."

In a new paper published in Nature CommunicationsPan and several colleagues argue that the underlying force that drives super-linear productivity in cities is the density with which we're able to form social ties. The larger your city, in other words, the more people (using this same super-linear scale) you’re likely to come into contact with.

"If you think about productivity, it’s all about ideas, information flows, how easily you can access ideas and opportunities," Pan says. "We believe that the interaction mechanism is what drives the productivity of the city."

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Norm Miller's curator insight, June 14, 2013 5:35 AM

Similar to Ed Glaeser's views in the Triumph of be City

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10 Ways to Improve High-Density Cities

10 Ways to Improve High-Density Cities | green streets | Scoop.it

Getting the right city density – generally expressed in the US as people per square mile or homes per acre – to support sustainable and pleasant living is one of the trickiest problems we face as we address the future of our communities. 

The typically low densities of suburban sprawl built in the last half of the 20th century, despite their popularity at the time with a considerable share of the market, have been shown by a voluminous body of research to produce unsustainable rates of driving, carbon emissions, pollution. stormwater runoff, and adverse health impacts. ..

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Jacqueline Garcia pd1's curator insight, March 23, 8:08 PM

This article shows the implications of high density areas. The solutions that the author discussed make a good point but sound kinda difficult. For example , its not that easy to bring nature into the cities because of the pollution which makes it hard to sustain the sort of growth we need. 

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San Francisco Approves Huge Eco-Makeover

San Francisco Approves Huge Eco-Makeover | green streets | Scoop.it
San Francisco is clearly embracing the 21st century trend of new urbanism. An inspiring proposal was approved last week to turn the heart of San Fran’s downtown area into a mecca of urban living.

Along with the existing plans for a new transit hub, all together it will create a more walkable, sustainable, and dynamic center that promotes core environmental values to the area. The Planning Commission of S.F. approved the addition of six new 850-foot skyscrapers along with one that will be 1,070 feet, superseding the skyline summit of the Transamerica Pyramid building, making it the tallest building on the west coast. In addition, a comprehensive transit hub nicknamed the Grand Central Terminal of the West is already in the works...

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To stay relevant, conservationists embrace cities

To stay relevant, conservationists embrace cities | green streets | Scoop.it

Environmentalists have not always embraced cities as sustainable enclaves.

It’s easy to see why. An idyllic natural setting isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when you walk through a city. And to build modern day Manhattan, for example, a forest was essentially clear-cut.

But environmentalists are beginning to warm to the idea of the city. The notion that many people can live more efficiently on a relatively small tract of land is appealing. But even if environmentalists are hesitant to declare cities as bastions of sustainability, our world is rapidly urbanizing with or without their support...

So to stay relevant to the realities of most people in the world, the Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation organizations in the world, is shifting from looking just at preserving large swaths of open space — the idyllic forms of nature — to also focusing more on natural habitats in cities.

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Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core

Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core | green streets | Scoop.it
A close look at population data reveals that, while the populations within central cities’ jurisdictional boundaries have declined substantially, their suburbs have actually grown. The result is that, if one defines “city” as the contiguous urbanized area within a metro region, regardless of political boundaries – the definition that matters to the economy and the environment – the shrinkage may vanish or be shown as far less than we think.

In short, “shrinking cities” have really been hollowing out more than shrinking...

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Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities | Video on TED.com

TED Talks How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need -- while reducing the time we spend in cars.
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Ten Points for Liveable Cities: Lessons from Singapore

Ten Points for Liveable Cities: Lessons from Singapore | green streets | Scoop.it

Urban populations are expanding at an exponential rate as people are migrating to city centers where economic opportunities promise social mobility and access to education, health resources, and where employment is more abundant than in rural areas. 


Nations once considered in the “third world” are making leaps to accommodate growing populations with thoughtful considerations in designing these new urban capitals.  Population trends have shifted considerably and have contributed to some of the densest urban cities never before seen in history.  The rise in the classification of cities as “mega-cities” and the problems that such high population densities face speak to the fact that our cities have reached a saturation point that needs to addressing.

Singapore, an island nation in the Asian Pacific, is the third densest country in the world. Last year the Center for Liveable Cities and the Urban Land Institute participated in a summit of leading planners and policy makers to discuss the steps that Singapore was taking in its development in response to its growing urban populations.  The result of the conference was a list of ten points that contribute to making Singapore a liveable high dense city...

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Sustainable Urbanism: a high-density, car-free vertical city in Chengdu, China

Sustainable Urbanism: a high-density, car-free vertical city in Chengdu, China | green streets | Scoop.it
Work is about to start on a high-density, car-free "satellite city" for 80,000 people close to Chengdu in China.


Designed by Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the 1.3 square km 'Great City' will feature a high-rise core surrounded by a buffer landscape of open space (60% of the total area). Residents will be able to walk from the city center to its edge in just 10 minutes.

“The design is attempting to address some of the most pressing urban issues of our time,” said architect Gordon Gill. “We’ve designed this project as a dense vertical city that acknowledges and in fact embraces the surrounding landscape.”

“The sustainability framework for Great City, custom-designed based on the principles of LEED-ND and BREEAM, follows an integrated approach toward meeting the overall objectives of environmental, economic and social sustainability,” notes Peter J. Kindel, AIA, ASLA, AS+GG’s Director of Urban Design. “Great City will incorporate innovative technologies and infrastructure systems to achieve 48% energy savings of a conventional urban development.”


The architects also note that the city will use 48% less energy and 58% less water than conventional developments of this size, producing 89% less landfill waste and generating 60% less carbon dioxide...

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Visualizing the "edible city" in three minutes

Visualizing the "edible city" in three minutes | green streets | Scoop.it

The American Society of Landscape Architects has produced another great video, this one about growing food in cities. I'm a big fan of ASLA's work, in part because of their terrific skill at public and professional communications.

This particular project contains both a short introduction to the subject of urban gardening and illustrations of a variety of types. Personally, I have come to prefer the word "gardening" over "farming" when it comes to growing food in cities, because... I like the idea of keeping cities compact to conserve land for real farms outside the urban-suburban footprint, while gardening at a lot or neighborhood scale inside the city boundary.

For me, the key test is whether in any particular instance city food-growing supports urban density and other aspects of urban life. If it does, I'm all in; if, instead, it conflicts, it's probably in the wrong place. Of course, everything is situational and subject to context.

The included video is full of great examples of how to produce food in ways highly compatible with cities and city living. Click on the link to enjoy the video...


Via Jandira Feijó
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Plan or be Planned? – An Urban Densification Dilemma | This Big City

Plan or be Planned? – An Urban Densification Dilemma | This Big City | green streets | Scoop.it

No one intrinsically wants to live in dense high-rises, but urbanisation makes it the only feasible solution. Europe and the West urbanised in the 19th Century, Latin America and Asia in the 20th, and Africa is next.


Via Peter Jasperse
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“Dencity” Visualizes Seven Billion People

“Dencity” Visualizes Seven Billion People | green streets | Scoop.it

Earlier this year, we wrote about the symbolism of October 31 in marking the day the world population reached 7 billion people. A design firm based in Boston, Mass., Fathom Information Design, created “Dencity,” a map of global population density as the world reaches this important milestone. The map uses different size and color circles to represent the distribution of population and density around the world. Larger and darker circles show areas with fewer people. Smaller and brighter circles represent more crowded areas.

The map doesn’t tell us anything new, but instead, confirms the spatial distribution of population and density that we have known for quite some time. Eastern Asia has the densest and most populated geography in the world. “The largest city in the world is Shanghai, with over 23 million people as of 2010,” Fathom explains. “China is home to six of the twenty most populous cities in the world, more than any other country.”

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