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Writings by Tim Beatley

Reviewing a Renewing Phoenix

by Martha Morris The 2016 American Planning Association national conference recently drew thousands of urban planning practitioners and students into busy downtown Phoenix and its desert landscape. Cactus murals, plaques identifying the horizon’s mountain peaks, and even the warm tones and patterns inside the Sky Harbor Airport invoked an appreciation of the desert. It’s not [...]

Listening to the Nature in Cities

By Tim Beatley Few sounds return me to my childhood as quickly or as vividly as those enjoyed on a typical summer evening here in the eastern U.S.: the katydids, grasshoppers, tree frogs, and other sounds that make up nature’s nightly music festival. These are sounds that settle us, calm us, often lull us to [...]

Paddleboard Urbanism

Post by Tim Beatley Years ago I attended the Congress of the New Urbanism annual conference in Chicago, where I met Katie Selby (now Katie Selby Urban). She and her brother Jed had just embarked on an ambitious plan to develop a new neighborhood in their home city of Buena Vista, Colorado. That development, called [...]

The Surprise and Delight of Urban Nature

By Tim Beatley Part of the great pleasure of living in a city is discovering the many forms of “nature in unexpected places,” the theme of this month’s e-newsletter. Some of this nature is designed, of course, but much of it is simply extant, and resiliently co-adapting to urban conditions.  The city is after all [...]

Butterflies in the City

Post by Tim Beatley Few creatures capture our imagination or spark a sense of glee when we see them more than butterflies. It is likely a combination of their mysterious life cycle, and their ability to so profoundly metamorphose, but also undoubtedly the beauty of their colors, shapes and the serendipitous and charming ways in [...]

Blue Urbanism: Connecting Cities and the Nature of Oceans

While we are increasingly the planet of cities, we must not forget that we live and share space on the blue planet. We rarely put these two realms (or words) together, but we must begin to. By some estimates, two-thirds of our global population lies within 400 kilometers of a shoreline. As oceanographer and National [...]

Connecting Health-Nature-Economy: Birmingham’s Emerging Model*

Cities today face a myriad of issues, from very bad air quality, to the need to adapt to climate change, to a variety of health-related problems including diet, rising obesity and a lack of physical activity. These are complex and challenging issues to deal with and one potential solution is to explore and develop more [...]

Biophilic Birmingham

In early April, I traveled to Birmingham, UK, to celebrate its intentions to become that nation’s first biophilic city. It was a heady few days, coinciding with a large national conference on Trees, People and the Built Environment (TPBEII).  A pre-conference symposium was organized by the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Advanced Studies to begin [...]

Sutton Park: Wild in the City

Sutton Park is described on the City of Birmingham’s webpage as “delivering a sense of wilderness with an urban environment.” Sutton Park, in its size and natural qualities, certainly conveys a wildness, but is also a landscape that reflects thousands of years of human alteration and habitation. It is an unusual mix of history and [...]

Biophilic Cities for Health

Few modern challenges are as vexing as health, and as costly it seems.  And the modern dimensions are many, from obesity and sedentary lifestyles, to the rise in depression, to the continuing toll of cancer. In the US we spend an astounding $2.8 Trillion on health care, nearly 18% of our GDP, and yet we [...]