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Revitalization, green space, misc

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  • Colin Leath
    First: Those interested in carfree cities / development may find Storm Cunningham s Revitalization Institute useful / provoking.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 6, 2004
      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
      revitalization keyword)

      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
      sign in):

      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"
      ISBN 1-56858-157-2

      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

      May 5, 2004

      File photo
      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
      at Urbana-Champaign.

      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."

      How green?

      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.
      For instance:

      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
      feel better."

      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."
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