Suburban Land Trusts
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Suburban Land Trusts
Conserving land in older, "inner" suburbs for small parks, gardens, natural areas & stormwater management
Curated by Bhopkins
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Columbia University and the Van Alen Institute Map How Our Brains Navigate the City

Columbia University and the Van Alen Institute Map How Our Brains Navigate the City | Suburban Land Trusts |
The GSAPP’s Cloud Lab teams up with neurologists and the design institute to track how urban environments can make people relaxed or tense.

This spring, the Cloud Lab at Columbia University and the Van Alen Institute tackled the challenge of assessing and mapping how people respond to their environment as a part of Van Alen’s Elsewhere series on wellness in the city.

Instead of the typical focus groups, however, the researchers tracked brainwaves to gauge the mental activities of nearly 100 volunteers; using electroencephalography-based (EEG) measurements and the GPS tracking app, the research team collected more than 1 gigabyte of data over 200 walking sessions that, in theory, create a snapshot of a day-in-the-life of the neighborhood’s mental states. 

Presenting the data in a manner that retained its spatial qualities required the researchers to develop their own software for visualization. At a public follow-up presentation in May, the team presented the simplified data on a 3D map of DUMBO. Areas in cyan indicate places in which participants were in a more meditative and relaxed state, while areas in red indicate places where participants had a more focused or heightened sense of awareness...

Via Lauren Moss
Bhopkins's insight:

"Architects and planners could employ the technology during post-occupancy walkthroughs or preliminary design presentations."

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Effect of Global Warming: Plants Flower Nearly a Month Earlier Than They Did A Century Ago

Effect of Global Warming: Plants Flower Nearly a Month Earlier Than They Did A Century Ago | Suburban Land Trusts |

Compared to extreme drought, blistering heat, massive wildfires and tropical cyclones, the latest indicator of climate change is unexpectedly attractive: early spring flowers. Unusually warm spring weather in 2010 and 2012 at a pair of notable sites in the eastern U.S. led to the earliest spring flowering times on record—earlier than any other time in the last 161 years.


The researchers involved, from Boston University, the University of Wisconsin and Harvard, examined the flowers at two sites well-known for their roles in the early environmental movement: Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau started keeping flowering records back in 1852, and Dane County, Wisc., where Aldo Leopold first recorded flowering data in 1935.


“We were amazed that wildflowers in Concord flowered almost a month earlier in 2012 than they did in Thoreau’s time or any other recent year, and it turns out the same phenomenon was happening in Wisconsin where Aldo Leopold was recording flowering times,” lead author Elizabeth Ellwood of Boston University said in a statement. “Our data shows that plants keep shifting their flowering times ever earlier as the climate continues to warm.”


In Massachusetts, the team studied 32 native spring flowering plant species—such as wild columbine, marsh marigold and pink lady slipper—for which average flowering dates had been fairly well-documented between Thoreau’s time and our own. They found that the plants’ flowering dates had steadily moved earlier as temperatures increased—Thoreau saw them flower on May 15, while they flowered on April 25 and 24 in 2010 and 2012, respectively. In the two years studied, 27 of the 32 species had their earliest flowering date ever.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, springhillnursery
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