Category:

‘Design With Nature’ to Create Liveable Communities

GENERATIONAL AMNESIA: “Every generation is handed a world that has been shaped by their predecessors – and then seemingly forgets that fact,” wrote Richard Fisher, BBC Senior Journalist and member of the BBC Future team of writers (June 2021)


“Can a generation be forgetful? It’s certainly true that older generations can fail to remember what it was to be young. However, that’s not the only kind of forgetfulness that happens as the generations pass. There’s another type that is less obvious, called ‘generational amnesia’, which has profound effects on the way that we see the world. As each new generation inherits the world, vital knowledge is forgotten. Generational amnesia has profound effects on the way that we see the world,” stated Richard Fisher.

Read Article

“Deepening children’s interaction with nature addresses the issue of environmental generational amnesia. The solution we are putting forward is, in effect, ‘one small interaction with nature at a time’,” stated Thea Weiss, University of Washington


“Nature Language is a term introduced by the researchers as a means of speaking about deep and meaningful patterns of human interaction with nature. Ideas related to ‘big nature’ and ‘nature language’ can help mitigate the problem of environmental generational amnesia. Since lack of interaction with nature has partly caused the problem, deepening children’s interaction with nature is proposed as a way to help solve it. Children’s educational environments –and entire cities — can be designed with this goal in mind,” stated Thea Weiss.

Read Article

URBAN GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE STARTS WITH A RAIN GARDEN: “To scale up our response to climate change requires a concerted, connected and collaborative approach to finding a way to work together towards identifying solutions and taking action. This perspective provides the context for an ecosystem of teaching, interdisciplinary professional practice and research that informs the new Green Infrastructure course,” stated Dr. Joanna Ashworth, Simon Fraser University


“Every significant innovation results from a magical combination of timing, preparation and luck. So true for the creation of a new online course on Green Infrastructure, or GI, at Simon Fraser University. After several years of promoting the use of rain gardens in communities, including offering workshops, my colleagues and I were delighted when the Adaptation Learning Network, awarded funding for us to develop an online course,” stated Joanna Ashworth.

Read Article

SEASONAL USE OF WATER IN BALANCE WITH A CHANGING WATER CYCLE: “The City sees the BC Landscape Water Calculator helping us manage our peak demand. I like that the calculator will be able to show people just how much they can reduce their water use,” stated Amy Peters, coordinator of the City of Abbotsford water conservation program


“Many homeowners are now familiar with how much they are using because the number is on their utility bill. It really is important that they be able to see how much outdoor water use contributes to their total water demand. The BC Landscape Water Calculator does this. We are encouraging people to transform their front yards by replacing grass with water efficient plants. We are promoting both water efficient and native plants. The BC Landscape Water Calculator provides them with choices for both,” stated Amy Peters.

Read Article

DOCKSIDE GREEN, WORLD’S GREENEST NEIGHBOURHOOD: “Do we have the intelligence and will to impel change? Can convention be busted open again to develop sustainably? This book encourages sustainable change agents to make fundamental, systemic change. Please go implement. Now,” urges Kim Fowler, author of Dockside Green, the story of the world’s most sustainable development


“At Dockside Green, a ‘sandbox’ development concept was created instead of a ‘straitjacket’ conventional approach. This was achieved by setting the basic requirements for site redevelopment while still providing flexibility to promote innovation and competition in the land sale process. Traditional zoning was deemed to be a ‘straitjacket’ containing far too detailed and prescriptive land use and design. It would have destroyed competition and innovation,” stated Kim Fowler.

Read Article

WHY THE FUSED GRID STREET PATTERN? – “In the early 2000s, entirely new priorities, along with old ones, were being staked at every corner of the planning universe. A tangled web of interacting variables emerged from these demands; a truly formidable, complex puzzle,” stated Fanis Grammenos, author of Remaking the City Grid, and an urban sustainability thinker


“The real urgent task was to convince a Municipality or a developer that this combination of known components worked well and that it produced desirable outcomes. Developers listened to the evidence with one ear while holding the other close to their clients – Sold! But they hesitated, being anxious that the City would not approve such plans; Cities, big and small, had just issued policy reports declaring: ‘cul-de-sacs are no longer allowed in this city because they are disconnected’,” stated Fanis Grammenos.

Read Article

HYDRATING LANDSCAPES TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE: “It was 20 years ago when we realized that soil is the cornerstone for water sustainability. Restoring the ‘balance’ to the ‘water balance’ starts with soil,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, in his panel presentation at the virtual Living Soils Symposium hosted by Regeneration Canada (February 2021)


“To adapt to a changing water cycle, soil depth as an ‘absorbent sponge’ is a primary water management tool, during both dry-weather and wet-weather periods. When the soil sponge has sufficient depth, the water holding capacity means that less water would be needed during dry-weather to irrigate gardens. This contributes to sustainability of water supply. And in wet-weather, an effective sponge would slowly release runoff and contribute to sustainability of aquatic habitat,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

FLASHBACK TO 2009: “To do an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan right, one has to start with the desired outcome – which is protect or improve stream health – and then determine what actions in the watershed will green the urban landscape,” stated Kim Stephens, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Liquid Waste Management Reference Panel, when reporting out to regional elected representatives


A commitment by Metro Vancouver municipalities to integrate land use and drainage planning was the genesis for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs). “When the Reference Panel reported back to the Waste Management Committee in July 2008, we identified the ISMP process as a sleeper issue because there are 130 watersheds in the region; and continuation of the old-business-as-usual would potentially result in an aggregate unfunded liability that could easily equal the $1.4 billion cost of sewage treatment,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

“The adaptive nature of cities is exemplified once again, by the self-organizing response of street networks after transformative changes,” wrote Fanis Grammenos, creator of the Fused Grid planning model


“While individual roads are normally built to a plan, their collective assembly into a network is retrospectively observed in totality, but never conceived as such—partly because networks grow piecemeal, often in unpredictable ways, and partly because of their time scale, often many decades long. The outcome of all these separate influences resembles a patchwork rather that a neatly woven fabric. Each new addition to the system not only becomes context for the subsequent one, but is also conditioned by factors that emerge in the long interim,’ stated Fanis Grammenos.

Read Article

FLASHBACK TO 2006 / DESIGNING COMMUNITIES DIFFERENTLY IN CALGARY, ALBERTA: “Meeting the City’s expectations for rainwater management drove the merger of two innovative concepts in laying out new communities – Water Balance and Fused Grid. Saddlestone was to be the litmus test of their validity and effectiveness,” stated Fanis Grammenos, the innovator who pioneered the Fused Grid Model for compact community design and beneficial uses


“Planning, common experience shows, is an act of balancing competing interests, perspectives and priorities. And since interests often waver and priorities shift, the challenge of achieving a balance is forever new. The fused grid model rests on a replicable (but not repetitive) 16 hectare superblock, a cellular unit , which displaces simplistic geometry for organic order. Translated into a neighborhood street pattern, this means shorter, skinnier, end-of-line local streets. Simple math shows that the closer this organic geometry is followed the more land becomes available for beneficial uses,” stated Fanis Grammenos.

Read Article