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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

The five questions of power

Tony Benn famously said there were five questions to be asked about power. What power do you have? Where did you get it? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you? If you can’t answer the last of those questions, he told MPs, […]