Does the fact that more and more people are moving into cities mean that more and more people will be living far away from green spaces and nature? This recent study from Finland is just one demonstration of what that would mean for our physical health. Add in the detriments to our mental health, and this prospect spells a pretty dismal future for humanity. Cities provide many opportunities for more efficient use of resources, but what use is efficiency if we lose our connection with the natural part of ourselves?
Fortunately, thanks to the vision and persistence of people in cities around the world, the concrete jungle is becoming more and more green. From gardens on rooftops, like the one in the picture above, to urban agriculture, individuals and groups are fighting back against the concrete sprawl. City planners from over a century ago knew that open green spaces were essential parts of civic life. But for decades progress meant more skyscrapers. Green was for isolated parks, or gardens, and agriculture was something those other people did far, far away from the important business of the city.
No more. Enough people have grown up into positions of power not only with their love of Nature intact, but also their belief that Nature has a place in the urban environment. New projects, such as this new park in Nice are making a huge difference in the lives of their city’s inhabitants. Being able to walk, drive or bicycle through, sit under, even look out the window at Nature keeps people connected to who they are, and to the world around them.
As our cities grow, as more people leave rural areas, as the argument is made that energy-wise cities are greener than suburbs, keeping that other green, the green of actual living plants providing fresh air, habitat for other creatures and a moment of peace and connection for an urban mind, will be essential for keeping us whole.
Great Idea: We don’t have to lose our connection with Nature in order to live a city life.
Practical Step: Give nature a prominent place in urban environments.
What You Could Do: Go to a park, or, better yet, adopt a park. Check out if your city has an urban agriculture movement, or community garden plots, and visit or even get your hands dirty.