Throughout the M.A. in Sustainability and Development program, a central question that we have continuously discussed is: how can cities be designed in a way that benefits both the environment and the health of residents? The pandemic has magnified this issue and has created specific problems for sustainability within cities, while also illuminating the need for equitable green space access.
COVID-19 has drastically impacted human behavior and many have been theorizing that it will change how cities function for years to come. Researchers have suggested that certain aspects of the pandemic, such as reduction of commute times due to an increase in working from home, may have a long-lasting positive impact on sustainability and air quality. Other aspects of the pandemic have produced new challenges for resource use within cities, such as an increase in single-use plastics.
Access to quality outdoor spaces has seemed more important than ever during this time: many states saw dramatic increases in visitation to parks and trails as people flocked to green spaces for mental and physical health benefits and socially distant gatherings. In addition to being beneficial to human health, green spaces help reduce urban heat, mitigate pollution, and maintain biodiversity.
As a DFW resident, I have been grateful for the myriad parks and trails peppered throughout the city. I hope that this time has shed light on the importance of green spaces within our metroplex, and that building new parks and trails can be prioritized particularly in ‘Park Deserts’—defined by Trust for Public Land as neighborhoods that don’t have a park within 10 minutes walking distance away.
If you’re looking to explore green spaces in the DFW metroplex, Richardson may be a good place to start. In a recent example of local connectivity made possible through technology, The City of Richardson recently released a “Parks Story Map” that allows folks to explore the 45 parks within the city, including details such as size, amenities, and accessibility.
Connectivity has never seemed simultaneously more important and more logistically difficult as it is during this bizarre time. I hope that this MASD blog can be a place where we are all able to connect as a cohort and share ideas about sustainability: from something as small as a photo of what’s growing in a community garden near you, to as large as global sustainability trends and news.
x Meredith Perot | firstname.lastname@example.org