I agree with him, but believe we need to look more widely. When we are looking at human restoration, when we are looking for our towns and cities to provide a life worth having, we need to consider salutogenic urban design. We need to ensure young and old, marginalised and engaged have equal access to nature connections in their daily lives. We need to ensure those same people can easily come together safely, and conveniently in a public space. Recently I was in Athens, presenting at the WHO"s Healthy Cities conference. Greece is broke. Its young people are unemployed in record numbers. I remarked on history and how Greece has risen and fallen several times since antiquity. The people are resilient and resourceful. They don't have a lot of public greenspace. They do have abundant, tiny, home-kitchen-sized neighbourhood cafes and pocket parks where people can come together to talk about their problems and celebrate their joy. They have strong cultural connections with each other.
If we are to create A Place to Live, if we are to create a Life Worth Having, we need to address planning issues. We need for tiny cafes to be a permissible activity within a residential neighbourhood. We need many more, attractive, accessible parks where we can feed the birds, watch the butterflies, and even help local authority's budgets and do some general maintenance.
I can hear you shrieking "WHAT?!" from here. :-) Maintain a public space?! Yes. There is overwhelming evidence that we need to interact with nature on a daily basis for our health and well-being. While it is beneficial to have a green view, it is even better for improving concentration, improving memory, reducing stress, relieving and preventing depression, reducing risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease if we can not only see, but touch, prune, weed and harvest produce from the land.
The good news is it is not difficult and it is not expensive to put supports in place for our people, young and old. We need first to acknowledge there is a problem. Second we need to evaluate available resources. Do we have local expertise in this area? Are governance systems supportive of health and well-being? Do local policies in schools, care homes, parks and gardens allow for the nature and social connections to take place? If not, where can we go for guidance?
The joy of my position is that I am able to join the dots, to link people and plants, to restore humans through environmental design. If you want to know more, get in touch. Contact us info @ greenstone design .co. nz