Urban green spaces - the cure for the common cubicle
November 18, 2015
“Cities give not the human senses room enough,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his seminal essay Nature. That was published in 1844. What might he make of some of our modern concrete jungles, when even at that time he felt compelled to paddle out into a river to “leave the village politics and personalities, yes, and the world of villages and personalities behind?”
Where do you go to get away from the world of personalities – or deadlines, traffic, interminable meetings or everyday annoyances? Those with means can enjoy an extended trip to a National Park, which the popular Ken Burns documentary series has dubbed “America’s Best Idea.” However, experiences with nature should be within easy access to all city dwellers, regardless of their wealth in terms of leisure time or monetary riches. And at EnSite, urban green spaces, pocket gardens, street trees, parks, community gardens and other nature-intensive elements are integral to many of our planning and redevelopment projects.
Children’s academic performance and development benefit from early and consistent experiences with nature. Likewise, adults can improve focus, gain perspective and reap health benefits by taking time to decompress in a natural environment. Workplace productivity and greater satisfaction can be achieved by momentarily removing one’s self from the overstimulation that can come with the demands of everyday life.
Even if we can’t rent a cabin in the woods and try to live like Emerson’s friend Henry David Thoreau, who said, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude,” our cities should avail us of opportunities to be experience a connection with nature. They should be built to give our senses “room enough.” As Emerson said in his essay, “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.”
So what’s the cure for the common cubicle? Take some nature. Repeat daily as needed.