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What’s your natural space?

The Greenest City 2020 targets set forth a lofty collection of goals – from carbon neutral construction parameters to clean…

By Shannon Dooling , in Designs for Life , on January 28, 2011 Tags: , , ,

The Greenest City 2020 targets set forth a lofty collection of goals – from carbon neutral construction parameters to clean water and air standards. A recent reconfiguration of the goals manages to downgrade many of the parameters – bringing Vancouver slightly back to the future in 2011.

Still, the city of Vancouver wants to ensure that “every resident lives within a five minute walk of a park, beach, greenway, or other natural space…” as part of the greenest city initiative.

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Vancouver was how many park signs popped up around each corner. I pass by at least one walking five minutes in either direction from my apartment – which I consider a very fortunate location.

The two parks I’m referring to in particular, Choklit and Charleston,  are used everyday by people that come from all over the demographic spectrum.

Some people sit on benches and watch the water taxi ferry here and there. Others gather with friends, drinking coffee and catching up on all things life.

There are athletes training for dreams, dogs chasing flourescent tennis balls and young parents chasing two-year-olds.

Parks provide people in a city with a place to move and a place to be still, a place to think and a place to forget.

They are a place of refuge and, according to a development organization called the Healing Cities Working Group, they can play an integral part of the human healing process. As the working group’s foundation states in it’s mission:

“Key findings in the literature review reveal that healing involves much more than curing physical ailments.  Healing is a multidimensional process facilitated by integrating physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social components of a person’s being. Each component affects the others.  This awareness changes the relationship between people and their environments because it recognizes that people do not live as isolated islands, but rather are intimately connected to their surroundings and influenced profoundly by a range of factors.”

One of those factors of influence for residents of densely populated cities is proximity and availability of places, like parks, that offer space for the healing process to take hold.