It's not that easy being green. It hasn't been for a good chunk of Philly's history, anyway. One might assume a historical precedent of prioritizing the city's various green spaces, given William Penn's loving description of his city as a "greene country towne." But this portrayal did not, in fact, come with a commitment to preserve and protect Philadelphia's public parks and gardens. His insistence on green spaces within the city's borders was more for pragmatic and economic purposes. In fact, no funding was actually allotted for the upkeep of Philadelphia's five original center city "wild blocks." So Philadelphians quickly developed the habit of using them to graze their animals and dump trash.
We've come a long way. We've recently seen an increased concern for and proliferation of green spaces of all shapes and sizes, like the new Dilworth Plaza (we spotted a group of young boys playing soccer there the other day lest you think that little patch of grass is wallowing in neglect), pop-ups all over town — and many more being funded/built/dedicated/dreamed up as we type.
But get this — according to Agnieszka Anna Olszewska, a doctoral candidate in landscape architecture and urban ecology at the University of Porto in Portugal, these green spaces aren't just eye candy, they're actually good for our hearts and minds. In her conference paper titled "Urban Planning, Neurosciences and Contemplation for Improving Well-being in Our Cities," she documented her pilot project "to prove that there are certain characteristics of urban parks and gardens that can induce…brain activity that is associated with contemplative or meditative states." Like we needed another reason to chomp at the bit for The Rail Park to just get here already. Repeat after us: ommmmmmmm.
· You Can't Wait for These 5 Upcoming Philly Parks to Happen [Curbed Philly]
· Urban Planning, Neurosciences and Contemplation for improving well-being in
our cities [Paper]
· Philly.com Says The Rail Park Is 'Firming Up' [Curbed Philly]
- Megan Ritchie Jooste