“Sponge Cities” – a catchy way to describe the goal in restoring the capacity of the urban landscape to absorb water and release it naturally

In 2013, President Xi Jinping injected a new term into the global urban design vocabulary when he launched China’s Sponge City program. And then in August 2017, the Senate of Berlin released its Sponge City Strategy. The common guiding philosophy for both? Mimic nature, restore the water balance, adapt to a changing climate. The ‘sponge city’ imagery resonates. People intuitively get it.

Adapting to Climate Change in Hong Kong: “To cope with stormwater flooding, the Government could adopt the ‘Sponge City’ concept,” urges Dr. Jeffrey Hung, Friends of the Earth

"Climate change is already happening and affecting all of us. Recent extreme weather highlight the concrete impact of climate change. It requires immediate action to improve the city’s resilience," wrote Dr. Jeffrey Hung. "The Hong Kong Government should identify the risks, reinforce the infrastructure, establish recovery programmes, educate the public, and finance the reinforcements and adaptation measures to make Hong Kong truly climate change ready."

DESIGN WITH NATURE: Top Ten Cities in USA are Integrating Nature & Technology – a new report (2017) by Anil Ahuja, Smart Cities Guru

Smart Cities Guru founder Anil Ahuja has compiled a list of the top U.S. cities — from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles — that have found a way to combine technology and nature. "The challenge is to raise the bar for designing net zero living while enjoying and protecting the natural world. Water, Energy, Health, Equity and Beauty can all be protected and integrated through constructive implementation of technology," wrote Anil Ahuja.

GREEN SPACE & HUMAN HEALTH: “Studies show that there is a definite link between mental health and living proximity to parks,” wrote Brian Strahan, mental health activist

In his article, Brian Strahan poses these questions: "What has a crystalline, winding, stream, got to do, with gaining clarity of mind? And what have the sawtooth edges, and linear veins on the leaves of an Alder tree, got to do got to do with someone’s capacity to adhere to societal norms and mores? How much vision is there on the long-term effects of living with more concrete and less space? We need to invest more in urban nature. It will improve mental health."

DESIGN WITH NATURE: “It’s time we recognized the importance of intact nature and built green infrastructure as central to flood-prevention efforts,” wrote David Suzuki

"Floods have become one of the most visible signs of the effects of climate change in cities, towns and rural areas throughout Canada," stated David Suzuki. "The Insurance Bureau of Canada found one in five Canadians faces some level of flood risk, and 1.8 million households are at very high risk. Climate change–related events — including floods, drought and fires — are a drain on personal finances and the economy."

GET IT RIGHT AT THE FRONT-END, OTHERWISE: “We end up paying far more to fix a problem further down the road when the absolute need to address it leaves no other option,” wrote Rick Baumann, South Carolina newspaper guest columnist

“The science of stormwater management is catching up with the development that has occurred. That is the problem. We are playing catchup – and application of the science is lagging far behind long established established knowledge," wrote Rick Baumann in a guest column. "As early as the 1940’s – when state poet laureate Archibald Rutledge published his classic book 'Home by the River', stormwater had been reeking havoc for quite some time."

Leading Change in Seattle: How Green Stormwater Infrastructure Can Help Urban Neighborhoods Thrive

City as Platform is more than a tour, and more than just a conference session—it is a hands-on, collaborative learning experience in the field. First debuted at CNU 24 in Detroit, it made an encore appearance at CNU 25 in Seattle and featured the Belltown neighbourhood. It is an ideal laboratory, said Isabelle Giasson, for expanding GSI (Green Stormwater Infrastructure) to meet multiple community outcomes.

Vision for ‘designing with nature’ in Adelaide, Australia: Create a city that is greener, more comfortable, healthier and more liveable

Stephens Forbes is positive about the availability of great design practices in South Australia. “There are some great landscape architectural practices and garden designers in Adelaide and accordingly some great projects but I’m not seeing this translate into substantial change. Investment in a few major iconic greenspace projects would help build leadership and capacity and prepare Adelaide for the future.”

DOWNLOAD: “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” – Local stream stewardship volunteers may yet be the difference-maker (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, Feb 2017)

“As we learn more about what influences early salmon life history, stewardship groups are asking questions of their local governments about the linkages between small stream habitat destruction and land developments. Now, the scope of their involvement and influence is expanding beyond the creek channel," stated Peter Law. “Looking ahead, an informed stewardship sector could help accelerate implementation of the whole-system approach."