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I'd (Dean) be willing to take a look at the "green" side of cities. My experience has been in wildlife behaviors across the suburban-urban gradient, but we could also focus on the design of cities and the changing understanding of what makes cities liveable. This could take us from ancient cities (Babylon's gardens) to modern ones - looking at the effects of the Industrial Revolution, Olmstead's Central Park (NYC) and Emerald Necklace (Boston), and modern day movements such as the greening of Paris and the Congestion Charging schemes of downtown London.
It would be really cool to look at how people have reacted to the construction of famous public parks & gardens over history. Today we applaud parks and gardens for their beauty and because they've helped preserve a sense of nature in cities, but I wonder if the public reaction to their establishment was always so positive. Was the movement to create/preserve "green" spaces viewed in opposition to the movement towards technological development, urbanization, and industrialization in the late 19th and early 20th century? Even now people complain about the green spaces in a lot of cities. I'm from Chicago and you'll often hear people complaining about how there are "trees in the middle of the expressway" (or at least in the middle of the street. they tend to block your vision :) ) Also, are we focusing more today on incorporating aesthetically intriguing architecture than on preserving nature in cities? (another chicago example - millions of dollars spent on the "bean", a useless bean-shaped mirrored object in front of which people like to pose for pictures.) - Ikee
For those of you who are interested in looking at this, I have to suggest two modern cities that deserve serious merit for a discussion of greening. Perhaps the all-time failure is Fez, which is having an impossible time revitalizing the old medina and so had to just build two newer cities on the outside after it gave up. (It is a failure and a huge hazard not just for greening, but also for population control and sanitation.) The opposite end of the spectrum is Shanghai (and recently copy-cat Beijing) which have amazing planning boards, carefully detailed plans about greening and livability additions in the rebuilding of the cities (which is happening at a rapid pace) and have been entirely successful in their efforts because that's what absolutist benevolent dictatorships do. -kevin fogg
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