Revitalization, green space, misc
- First: Those interested in carfree cities /
development may find Storm Cunningham's Revitalization
Institute useful / provoking.
here's a twin cities revitalization project
http://www.npcr.org/ (just exercising the
I learned about Storm at a wilber meetup-- if you're
not tracking the wilber / integral / spiral dynamics
crowd, you may want to...
Greenery: A sight for sore minds
Research shows nature's effects on wide array of
mental tasks, behavior
There's now experimental validation for Joel's
emphasis on greenspace:
the original article (only for reference--requires
easier places to read it (all basically the same):
"Playing in natural settings helps children with
attention deficit disorder, new studies show. "
a related link: http://www.herl.uiuc.edu/
[I also pasted the article below, at the very bottom]
To outlive the cars / car infestation:
if calorie restriction sounds freakish, at least read
about Optimal Nutrition in Walford, Dr. Roy, "Beyond
the 120 Year Diet : How to Double Your Vital Years"
You'll no longer have to wonder so much about how to
get proper nutrition and whether to take vitamins.
Oh yeah- eventually I want to write something on
greenways for carfreeuniverse but until then,
Has really got something impressive going with
A creative and perhaps successful way of getting
people with political power involved in the project.
Studies find natural settings help both kids and
adults shrug off stress
By Karen Patterson
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
May 5, 2004
Playing in natural settings helps children with
attention deficit disorder, new studies show.
A patch of greenery isn't just another pretty space. A
growing body of research is showing that natural
settings provide tangible mental health benefits.
Children are better able to shrug off stress and
better able to concentrate when they have contact with
natural surroundings, studies show. Adults are less
overwhelmed by their problems when there's green space
near their inner-city homes.
And nature's effects can appear even in passing:
Scenic, forested parkways may reduce the frustration
of commuting, compared with cluttered urban roads.
Those are just some pluses for individuals. Research
suggests societal benefits, too, including less crime
and more resident interaction when nature is present
in an inner-city neighborhood.
Civic planners have long considered the inclusion of
nature into everyday settings as a theoretical ideal �
and more recently it was documented to be a human
preference, says Jack Nasar, a professor of city and
regional planning at Ohio State University. "The newer
work," Nasar adds, "is starting to say that vegetation
is not only preferred, but it's physically
And the concrete benefits of less concrete are being
found in a host of circumstances.
"I think we're on the cusp of showing just how
pervasively nature matters to our health," says
researcher Frances Kuo, of the University of Illinois
In a series of experiments with children, Kuo and
colleagues Andrea Faber Taylor and William Sullivan
have shown a link between nearby nature and
attentional skills. In one study a few years ago,
among 169 urban children, girls tended to score better
on tests of self � including skills such as
concentration and ability to resist impulse � when
mothers reported more natural views from the home.
But the effect was not found in boys, Kuo says of the
research. "We thought it might be because the boys are
not home very much," compared with girls, who play
more often at home. "And everything we've done since
seems to be confirming that."
Instead of just asking how natural the immediate
surroundings of the children's homes were, later
research asked parents to characterize the greenness
of the place where their children played most often.
"The place they actually play in � that very strongly
and consistently predicts how well they're doing," Kuo
One study of attentional skills focused on children
with attention-deficit disorder. Parents of the 7-to
12-year-olds in that study reported less severe
attention difficulties when their kids had spent
playtime in a natural area, rather than other
settings. The greener a child's play area, the less
severe the attention problems, the data showed.
Newer, not-yet-published research helps nail down the
nature-attention connection, said Kuo, who with
Sullivan founded their university's Human-Environment
Research Laboratory. Instead of relying on parents'
reports, the new research tested children's ability to
focus on a specific task, she said. Again, nature
A complementary study, using subjects who were
enlisted through the Internet, found that nature could
exert its positive effect on a broad population of
youngsters with attention-deficit problems. The
benefits were detected in kids from 5-to 18-years-old,
in boys as well as girls, in every income bracket
studied, across all ranges of symptom severity, and
for children with a variety of co-occurring behavioral
problems, Kuo said.
Also, the effect was found not just in big cities �
where a patch of green can be a novelty � but in rural
areas. "We found it pretty much everywhere we looked,"
Kuo said. The study's publication is pending in the
American Journal of Public Health.
Research from Cornell University has likewise found an
impact of green space in rural areas � in this case,
on children's stress levels. That study assessed
exposure to nature based on number of indoor plants,
amount of nature seen in window views, and whether the
child's home has a yard of grass, dirt or concrete.
Among 337 children in gradesthree to five, those in
homes with more nature inside and out appeared to be
less affected by stress in their lives.
And the more nature, the better. "The data suggest
that there is little 'ceiling effect' with respect to
the benefits of exposure to the natural environment,"
researchers Nancy Wells and Gary Evans wrote last
spring in the journal Environment and Behavior. "Even
in a setting with a relative abundance of green
landscape, more appears to be better when it comes to
bolstering children's resilience against stress or
Green space offers advantages to adults as well as
children, research from the Illinois lab has shown.
Among residents of a Chicago housing project, those
who lacked nearby nature saw their troubles as more
severe, longer-lasting and more intractable. Those
residents appeared less able to focus on addressing
major life challenges. The study encompassed 145
residents assigned to different apartments in the
housing project, where buildings were identical but
surroundings were not.
Separate data from the same residents showed higher
levels of aggression and violence in the people with
the more barren surroundings.
Results from these two studies appear related to
mental fatigue, the researchers reported. Such fatigue
can affect how well people fend off unproductive
impulses, handle conflict and keep a lid on their
tempers, Kuo said.
Lower crime rates appear to accompany buildings with
more natural surroundings. Among 98 apartment
buildings in another Chicago project, the greener the
surroundings, the fewer violent crimes and the fewer
property crimes reported, researchers found.
While mental fatigue's apparent link to aggression may
explain some of the crime difference, another force
seems to be at work, Kuo said � the fact that green
spaces can act as "people magnets."
"In an inner-city area, where apartments are pretty
small or crowded, if the green space is at all
habitable, people go out there, they start to occupy
those spaces, they get to know their neighbors. And
that basically sets up an informal sort of
neighborhood watch," she explains.
Yet nature doesn't have to be in the neighborhood to
promote mental well-being, other research shows.
Roadside green space can benefit commuters, Ohio
State's Nasar and colleague Jean Marie Cackowski
reported last fall in Environment and Behavior.
The team first subjected 106 college students to
various stressors in the lab, then measured anger
levels. Next the subjects watched one of three videos
of drives, one in traffic on a scenic parkway; another
on a garden highway with few man-made structures; and
the third on a highway with little vegetation.
Researchers measured anger levels again, as well as
the students' frustration levels. Those subjects who
viewed the most natural scenery showed less
Green spaces may help people mentally by providing a
sense of control in their lives, Nasar said. "Nearby
nature is positive even if you don't use it; if it's
something you know is there, as kind of an escape, you
For drivers actually on the road, Nasar suggested
alleviating frustration by taking safe opportunities �
such as while stopped in traffic or at a red light �
to shift attention to any greenery in view.
Kuo said people should experiment with daily doses of
greenery. "We're seeing that, amazingly, you can
detect effects even after not very much exposure. Even
20 minutes in a somewhat green place seems to be
better than the same 20 minutes indoors."