community · culture · environment · happiness · health

Parks, bikeways, other natural playful landscapes are good for the economy

English: Ritner Creek Covered Bridge near Pede...
Ritner Creek Covered Bridge near Pedee, Oregon, used as a rest stop during the Watermelon Rides organized by the Salem Bicycle Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Friday. I hope you get a chance to go outside this weekend. Not just because it’s good for you, but because it also helps the economy. No really, at least according to one study, and anecdotally, Oregon is seeing  ahuge economic benefit by encouraging outdoor recreation, specifically bikeways and bike tourism:

During a special hearing on bicycle tourism at the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee in Salem, OR, on May 9th, representatives from Travel Oregon released a major new report on the economic impact of bicycle-related travel. The Travel Oregon study, The Economic Significance of Bicycle-Related Travel in Oregon Detailed State and Travel Region Estimates, 2012 (PDF), looked at bike tourism’s impact throughout the state during 2012. The big number — which garnered a headline in The Oregonian and has been adjusted up since our story in March — is $400 million. That’s how much people “involved in bicycle-related activities” spent in Oregon last year.

One key reason for the ascension of bike tourism in Oregon are initiatives like the nation’s first State Scenic Bikeway program.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department named two new Scenic Bikeways that same day. They’ve got the right idea about increasing revenue by making their state fun to hang out in!

You can read more about the economic impacts, but it’s so far a pretty effective strategy to promote tourism.

community · design · environment · Social

UW exhibit celebrates parks, public spaces reclaimed from unusual uses

A bit older news, but still interesting, and a great way to get into the unofficial summer season; from UW News:

Gas Works Park, Seattle WA

Thaisa Way, a UW associate professor of landscape architecture, and several of her design students have curated “Experimenting in Public Space,” on exhibit May 9 to June 24 at the American Institute of Architecture design gallery in downtown Seattle. The exhibit explores Gas Works and 11 subsequent parks and public spaces in a series of sketches, photographs and architectural renderings.

In 1962, a parcel at the northern tip of Lake Union was a toxic waste dump, the result of an industrial plant that turned coal to natural gas. By 1976, however, it was Gas Works Park, the result of a gutsy experiment in landscape architecture led by Richard Haag, a University of Washington emeritus professor of architecture.

Gas Works and subsequent projects established Seattle as one of the first American cities willing to recast industrial sites into places to celebrate.

“Gas Works was a radical move, especially since Rachel Carson’s book, ‘Silent Spring,’ had just been published, and people were alerted about environmental pollution,” Way said.

Haag convinced the city that not only could unusual and sometimes polluted land be reclaimed but that it should be. Instead of the wide, rolling vistas of trees and flowers created across the country by the Olmsted brothers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, Haag celebrated the city and all its right angles. The gas works boiler house eventually sheltered grills and picnic tables, and the gas compressor became a play barn, all with a water’s edge view of Lake Union and the downtown Seattle skyline.

Among the projects featured in the exhibit are Freeway Park, Waterworks Gardens and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Read more here.

I’m excited to see a celebration of open public park spaces, especially those reclaimed from formerly unappealing and otherwise unusable spaces. I find myself at Gas Works Park a lot in the summer, and love having so much green open space in the city I live in!

anthropology · behavior · culture · environment · Nature

New Research Reveals the Nature of America’s Youth | The Nature Conservancy

Interesting study to keep you motivated while I’m off in the woods:

Kids are spending less and less time outdoors. Why? We’re becoming more and more wired in and dependent on technology:

There is a growing disparity between the time kids spend indoors wired to technology and the time they spend outside enjoying nature. The vast majority of today’s kids use a computer, watch TV, or play video games on a daily basis, but only about 10 percent say they are spending time outdoors every day, according to a new nationwide poll from The Nature Conservancy.Why? Lack of access to natural areas and discomfort with the outdoors are two primary factors identified by the Conservancy’s poll.The poll was conducted from July 28 through August 4, and asked 602 kids between the ages of 13 and 18 about their attitudes toward nature, outdoor activity and environmental issues.

more via New Research Reveals the Nature of America’s Youth | The Nature Conservancy.

One easy solution is to limit electronic time for youngsters, and ourselves for that matter.

And yes I recognize the irony of sharing this information via an electronic-based blog.