There is no doubt that humans need nature. It is absolutely essential for our daily lives. Some people are now realizing that it’s possible to have nature all around us, even if we live in the city, because natural environments can be easily designed into urban communities. We have to forget this concept that cities and nature can’t coexist because they can. For years people have seen nature as something that’s “over there” removed from modern life. One usually travels—sometimes for hours—to spend some time in nature. But modern city planners are working to change that view.
The general idea is to bring nature back into the cities. According to Paul Soglin, former mayor of Maddison, Wisconsin, “there are two types of environmentalists: those who understand that the city is part of the environment and those who do not.” Designing vertical gardens on city buildings, planting lawn or gardens on roofs, and even allowing millions of bats to live under bridges are some creative ways to bring nature into the city. It’s not only about avoiding the habits we’ve formed that are dangerous to the environment, but it’s also about creating a context for thriving and for meaningful interaction with the world around us. The good news is that this can be made possible in a relatively short period of time.
Eva Dalman, a city planner in Sweden believes that it is not enough to simply come up with systems to strengthen environmental sustainability. The plan must include the building of attractive neighborhoods that people will love. If people love their homes they will be more likely to take care of the smart systems that were developed to lower energy use and protect the environment.
Providing fun and educational nature experiences for kids is also very important. Children these days are spending much more time indoors than they did a decade ago. Programs like BioBlitz and Sierra Club in downtown San Diego are aware of this and doing all they can to make nature more attractive to the younger generation. Children need to have nature right close to where they grow up.
The Nature Of Cities is a thought-provoking documentary that joins Professor Timothy Beatley as he explores many different urban projects around the world. This he does in representation of the new green movement that seeks to move our urban environments beyond sustainability to a regenerative way of living.