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change cities nature place

Sand martins, saints and speculators

  Kelham Island is a tale of regeneration, of an industrial landscape now buzzing with human life. Last year it won the Academy of Urbanism’s Great Neighbourhood award. In the last decade property prices have increased by a quarter. New flats are going up and new restaurants are opening. This is the dominant story. If […]

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community creativity nature public policy sustainability

Why we need imagination in the face of ethical inaction

When Greta Thurnberg addressed members of Parliament a couple of weeks ago, she didn’t mince her words. ‘You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened,’ she told them. It’s easy to see how that conclusion could be […]

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change community New Start archive public policy

Hindsight, hubris and hope

Twenty years ago today the first issue of New Start magazine was published, with a mission described as ‘bringing together the partners in community renewal’. I and two colleagues set it up and recruited a team of writers, advertising and production staff to fill what we saw as both an evidence and a commercial gap: […]

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cities nature

Beyond ‘green is good for you’

A while ago a joiner was doing some work in our flat, and asked me what I did for a living. I explained that among other things, I’m working on a research project about how green spaces enhance our wellbeing.  Of course they do, he snorted. Everybody knows that. His tone suggested it was ridiculous […]

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change cities sustainability

The beginnings of a bridge across the sustainability gap?

The gloomy deliberations of the COP24 deliberations in Katowice focused attention on a problem political, institutional and business leaders are all aware of but have not worked out how to resolve: the gap between aspiration and action. That gap is evident in a series of increasingly urgent reports from the scientific and policy world. UNEP’s […]

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Uncategorized

Green spaces help combat loneliness – but they demand investment

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com Julian Dobson, University of Sheffield Urban green spaces – including parks, woodlands, riverbanks, and gardens – are an essential part of a web of physical and mental well-being. They provide spaces to socialise and opportunities to connect with the natural world. They are restorative enclaves in stressful cities. The UK government’s […]

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community place public policy town centres

In praise of planners

On Monday I gave evidence to MPs on the future of high streets and town centres. To my left was a portrait of a rather wild-looking Margaret Thatcher.  It was somehow appropriate that her ghost should grimace over the discussions. What the grocer’s daughter would make of a world where groceries are shipped from vast […]

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cities community nature place social justice

Plants, cyborgs, and the future of nature

Does nature have a future? If so, what kind of future will it be and how will humans shape it? These huge questions dominated proceedings at a conference to mark 50 years of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. Drawing together renowned speakers from around the world, the agenda was ostensibly the […]

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community place public policy

Why diggers are better than levellers

God, so the saying goes, helps those who helps themselves. If you’re not of a godly persuasion, you might say you make your own luck. Action brings its own rewards. These are truisms that have filtered their way into philosophy and social policy, but it’s worth stepping back and doing a bit of de-filtering. I […]

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cities place protest

The right to the city is a right to the story

Change the story and you change the city. Marketing and PR people have always known that, from the famous ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ campaign of the 1980s to the unforgettable, but unfortunate, decision to brand Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport with the legend ‘pure dead brilliant’. The story of a city emerges not only from the story as told, […]