Healthy Rivers, Healthy Cities
The link between healthy rivers and healthy cities is perhaps intuitive: if a river is highly polluted, or inaccessible to the public, it is a liability to that city’s efforts to promote healthy lives for its citizens. Likewise we understand, or think we understand, that a healthy river, full of fish and other aquatic life and bordered by greenways, trails, and great public spaces, is an amenity that contributes to the health of a community and its citizens.
But I’m not sure we really know how this works, or how to go about achieving it.
To a large degree, this is a function of training and background: no aquatic ecology course of study that I know of requires courses in urban planning and design. And most urban planning and design classes really have only a superficial understanding of how biological and physical processes actually work. I don’t think anyone would seriously advocate that ecologists and geomorphologists become urban planners, and that urban planners become scientists. It’s quite good enough for specialists to recognize where their expertise ends and to know how to find the expertise of others.
Toward that end, I introduce you to Gordon Price, one of the best thinkers about waterfronts and cities that I have run across. A former elected city official in Vancouver, Price now teaches and writes about urban issues. His electronic magazine, Price Tags, offers excellent introductions and analysis on a variety of important “city building” subjects. Don’t miss it!