For Release Saturday, September 7, 2013
Houston is well situated to become a leading city – perhaps the leading city — to envision its future through the prism of the natural world. Given the city’s reputation (no zoning, all business), that may sound counterintuitive. And as one Houstonian said to me recently, “If you were to say that around here, people would say you’re not from around here.” So why do I single out Houston?
Before speaking there a few months ago, I had learned that Houston’s leaders were considering rebranding the city. Usually a city rebranding will focus on economic competition. But what if Houston (or insert your city’s name here) were to reimagine its future by looking through the prism of nature?
What would its health care and education systems, shopping areas and residential developments be like? What about its economic health, its ability to market itself to the most creative people and businesses around the world? What would the future look like?
Here are five ways Houston – or your city – could create a nature-rich urban future.
1. Incubate future entrepreneurs through the nurture of nature. Houston is known as a city of business, of independent thinkers. New research suggests that more time spent in natural environments can reduce the symptoms of attention-deficit disorder, encourage creativity, improve learning and nurture executive function. Executive function is the ability developed in early childhood — and primarily through imaginative independent play — to be your own boss. Yet many U.S. school districts have cut recess and discouraged independent play.