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Pierce: Parks Critical to Urban Happiness

Peter Harnik and Neil Pierce

Peter Harnik and Neal Pierce, Stegner Circle, New York

The modern parks movement is “absolutely critical” to the happiness of people with “more compact lifestyles”— who live in cities, says  award winning author and columnist Neal Pierce, the honored speaker for TPL’s April 29th Stegner Circle event, hosted by Peter Harnik, TPL director of the Center for City Park Excellence.

“There’s more conscious thought put into landscaping and programming and the relationship of that park to that community and with its local schools. And if that is pushed forward, that connection, then I think it’s a really viable and strong one,” said Pierce, whose most recent book is Century of the City: No Time to Lose.

Peirce’s discussion, like his book, focused on a grand, new urban agenda for cities, a frequent topic of columnists with Citistates Group, his network of journalists and speakers who believe that successful metropolitan regions are today’s key to economic competitiveness and sustainable communities.

In this century, the “fate of cities and their peoples… the one human family,” highlights the need to prepare for a “post-petroleum era.” Food—or more specifically, “regional food self-sufficiency” will be important as we prepare for the decades to come. Also critical, is “how we keep the size of metropolitan regions compact enough so [growth] doesn’t compound the global climate challenge.”

We will need to resolve issues related to “the roadways of the world”—address both our safety and the “global issue of people’s rights to the space of the world that they live in.” Peirce reminded listeners that all are part of the “consumption curve” associated with decades of “devouring … space and resources … at a more intense rate.”

For Peirce, there is promise in the New Urbanist movement, which began to appear in the early 1990s—the growing demand for walkable communities, parks within reach of ones home. Peirce summarized, “why occupy more space when you can do with less with equal high quality of life.”

Peirce and Harnik both spoke on regionalism, “despite all the political boundaries, it’s one economy,” noted the guest. As federal departments begin to consider how to “stimulate metropolitan regions to get their acts together,” he quipped, and “perhaps on a competitive basis, combine their energy … their housing, transportation, and environmental issues .. I think we might get a very interesting progress out of our system.”

* We recommend signing up for Neal Peirce’s weekly e-mail columns at his website Citiwire.net – topics cover a variety of issues pressing our metro areas today.

One Response

  1. […] makes brains work better It’s a common belief that access to green space in our everyday lives is crucial for the well-being of humans, […]

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