Paying mind to the urban ecology



Great City Guide
  • Project for Public Spaces
  • Great City Guide

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, there's a Duke University biologist up who way that wants us to pay attention to something called "urban ecology"; according to The Urban Ecology Institute, the term refers to helping "urban communities build healthy, vibrant cities by educating residents about their environment, connecting them to each other, and engaging them in the transformation of their neighborhoods into places where people love to live."

Sounds good, right? We like vibrant cities and being connected, don't we?

Well, good luck getting city planners to listen, as that biologist, Will Wilson, who also wrote, "Constructed Climates: A Primer On Urban Environments" points out:

"It's sort of frustrating," he told the newspaper, of dealing with city planners and local governments.

No doubt.

But neither he nor Charlotte officials are the only people worrying about urban ecology and wondering whether it's something we should tune into and better, or whether we should mow everything down for another development of some sort. Take Sacramento, Calif., for example: The Sacramento Bee reports that oak trees are important.

Get that, Charlotte? Trees. Important.

Wilson agrees, telling the newspaper:

In the courtyard of Brightleaf Square, trees are planted between brick walls. The walls and pavement absorb heat and radiate it into the air, where the trees intercept it and release it to be carried away by the wind, he said.

"That's a way of getting urban heat out of the city."


Wilson also points out that trees are more common in affluent urban areas than in poor neighborhoods, suggesting that "preservation and enhancement of open space" is a matter of social justice.

He's also an advocate for using vegetation to help mitigate urban flooding issues, which Charlotte suffers with in dramatic ways, as we all know.

Hrm. Maybe we should invite this Wilson fellow to the Q.C., eh? Of course, getting people to listen to him here, well ... one can hope doors and ears would be open to him.

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