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A Humane Metropolis

We just participated in a workshop in Baltimore called the Humane Metropolis, based on work of Rutherford H. Platt of the Ecological Cities Project at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. A book on the subject of the same name, Humane Metropolis describes the elements of what the workshop covered. The book is a good read for those interested in the connection of environmental and social aspects of our cities, especially in the area of urban parks. A Neal Peirce column from a 2007 describes some of the concept:

So what is a “humane metropolis”? The key words seem to be green, healthy, sociable, civic, and inclusive.

A metropolis (i.e., metro region or citistate) is considered green if it fosters humans’ connections to the natural world — an idea Anne Whiston Spirn promoted in her seminal 1984 book “The Granite Garden.” Spirn rejected the idea — easily absorbed if one watches too many “concrete jungle” films, or even televised nature documentaries — that the natural world begins beyond the urban fringe. “Nature in the city,” she wrote, “must be cultivated, like a garden, rather than ignored or subdued.”

That means renewed attention to welcoming urban parks, from entire “green necklace” systems within metro areas to the emerald-green sanctuary of small vest pocket parks. Community gardens, green roofs, street trees and planted medians all count — and today more than ever as antidotes to the “urban heat island” phenomenon and the spread of global warming-inducing greenhouse gases.

The book also describes efforts such as greenways and physically separated cycle tracks that can encourage more cycling and connect people to places, as well as daylighting streams and more.

2 Responses

  1. […] Americans continued to use public transit in record numbers during the first quarter of this year. City Parks Blog writes about the concept of "the humane metropolis." And Urban Review STL asks the […]

  2. Great post and thank you for the recommendation on this book. It’s excellent.

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