What Do Our Green Spaces Say About Us?

I am always on the lookout for design and architecture blogs that cover varied topics in interesting and compelling ways, so I was very happy when I discovered Blooming Rock, a blog focusing on issues around community, architecture and sustainability in the Phoenix area.

I’ve read many, many interesting articles on the blog (there is also a pretty robust comments section, ahem), and was particularly taken with yesterday’s piece, “Craving Green Breathing Space in a Fast-Paced City.” The gist of it is pretty straightforward, and it’s something that we talk a lot about here as well: the critical importance of urban green spaces for the psychological and ecological health of the community. 

Conversations around topics like this and happening more and more frequently across the world. Here in San Francisco, we consider ourselves the proverbial kings (queens, actually — har har) of sustainability and ecologically-minded decision making, although there are many areas of the city that could use more greening. Nonetheless, pocket parks, curbside rain gardens, and other creations that soften the urban landscape keep springing up, much to everyone’s delight. These efforts are, at least in part, an expression of the values we hold as a community in increasingly developed world.

Whether we realize it or not we all yearn for exposure to elements of nature, even as more and more of us (now over 50% of the world’s population) live in urban areas. It’s the desire to maintain this connection to nature that makes trees such an emotional topic for so many people. In a sense, trees are the flagship element of the urban organism. When street trees fail or are never planted in the first place, their surrounding area suffers as well, from a reduction in pedestrian traffic, to reduced home and business values or higher incidents of crime. Areas without trees are quite literally less desirable places to be. Imagine a whole city suffering from a treeless epidemic — no one would live there! In a sense, when street trees and other urban green spaces fail, we fail as well.

Blooming Rock’s creator is Tazmine Khatri Loomans, a self-described “architect, a writer and an advocate for sustainable building practices and community-oriented design in Phoenix.” You can subscribe to her site here.

Image: laura.bell

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