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change cities community town centres

The demise of the high street: Britain’s new de-industrialisation

The changes in the retail character of our town and city centres may be as sweeping and significant in their way as the effects of de-industrialisation in the 1970s and 1980s, and similarly irreversible.  If proof were needed that the shopping-centred high street of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is disappearing, the £517m pre-tax loss posted by […]

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cities greenspace nature Uncategorized

Why the mundane is magical, and how we can keep it that way

Governments like ambitious plans. They love to talk in terms of billions of pounds and ‘moonshot’ aspirations. The shiny and spectacular make better headlines than the everyday labour of caring for what we already have. But that everyday work of caring is foundational to our quality of life, as new research on urban green spaces underlines. The […]

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cities greenspace

How much more evidence do we need to invest in green spaces?

We know green spaces are good for us. The evidence is overwhelming. So why don’t we invest in what we know to be healthy and helpful, when we can find £522 million to subsidise people who want a meal out?  In case there’s any doubt about the evidence, earlier this year a team at Sheffield Hallam University […]

Categories
cities power public policy social justice

Hope in a time of crisis

Today, in the middle of an accelerating crisis, some of us are publishing a book about hope. You could call it unfortunate timing. You could also call it the best time. The crisis is obvious but merits a quick scan. First, we’re caught in a global pandemic that, outside the bubble of British media attention, […]

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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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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 […]

Categories
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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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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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, […]

Categories
cities creativity nature place

Greetings from Utopia

We can only answer the question of what we should do, the philosopher Alistair MacIntyre said, if we can answer the question of which stories we are part of. We aren’t authors of our own lives so much as weavers of tales that extend before and beyond us. This week I was at Chester’s new […]