21 Ways to Start Creating a Restorative Neighborhood or City

Apr 26th 2012

As of 2008, more than half of the world’s population lived in cities. That’s a huge moment in human history. By 2030, that proportion will likely jump to two-thirds. This transformation will produce one of two outcomes: the end of meaningful daily experience in nature, or the beginning of a new kind of city. Here are some ideas, adapted from The Nature Principle, that I believe can help us understand what it means to create and live in a restorative city, beginning with your neighborhood. Right now.

  1. Re-imagine your city as an engine of biodiversity and human health.
  2. Restore nearby nature and create new habitat; rebuild local food webs; and encourage urban wildlife.
  3. Recognize and increase human-nature social capital, thereby creating healthier habitat for humans and other animals.
  4. Plant native species in your yard; create butterfly zones in your neighborhood; help build a Homegrown National Park.
  5. Create a De-central Park in every city. Button Parks, too.
  6. Establish new human-nature networks, including family nature clubs and green gyms.
  7. Connect the region with wildlife and humanlife corridors.
  8. Establish restorative transportation systems, including naturalized bike and pedestrian paths; quieter, more efficient public transit; and shade parking areas with green roofs and/or solar panels.
  9. Challenge neighborhood CC&Rs and other barriers of law, regulation, and rules.
  10. Adopt development policies favorable to green roofs, green walls, etc.
  11. Replace decaying shopping malls with urban ecovillages and natural park space.
  12. Create or retrofit homes as restorative habitats for humans and other species.
  13. Design and retrofit schools and libraries with biophilic design; and green every schoolyard.
  14. Apply biophilic design to new housing and commercial developments.
  15. Weave nature into communities for older people, including assisted living homes.
  16. Create restorative workplaces that produce human energy.
  17. Encourage urban and suburban agriculture, from community gardens to vertical farms.
  18. Recognize and celebrate your urban bioregion’s natural identity.
  19. Establish a regional scorecard that includes the economic benefits of truly greening your city.
  20. Support a regional children and nature campaign; and help build the New Nature Movement.
  21. Focus your city’s future envisioning process through the prism of nature: consider how planting the restorative city could reshape healthcare, education, law enforcement, redevelopment, tourism, and other businesses.

Richard Louv is the author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, now available in paperback. He is chairman emeritus of the Children and Nature Network and 2012 spokesperson for the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year. For more information on his books, go to www.richardlouv.com. For a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement, see http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/field-guide/.