How cities use parks to create safe neighborhoods

For those concerned that green spaces may foster crime and illegal activity, evidence now exists that the opposite may be true.When adjacent to residential areas, green spaces have been shown to create neighborhoods with fewer violent and property crimes and where neighbors tend to support and protect one another. These are the findings of scientists at the Human-Environment Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studied green space alongside public housing in Chicago. Other researchers who are conducting similar studies across the country are finding similar results.

The factors that explain these findings emphasize the importance of greenery in community and personal wellness.Time spent in natural surroundings relieves mental fatigue, which in turn relieves inattentiveness, irritability, and impulsivity, recognized by psychologists as precursors to violence. Green spaces also support frequent, casual contact among neighbors. This leads to the formation of neighborhood social ties, the building blocks of strong, secure neighborhoods where people tend to support,care about,and protect one another.

The key points are remarked by the American Planning Association:

Key Point #1

Time spent in nature immediately adjacent to home helps people to relieve mental fatigue, reducing aggression.

Key Point #2

Green residential spaces are gathering places where neighbors form social ties that produce stronger, safer neighborhoods.

Key Point #3

Barren spaces are more frightening to people and are more crime prone than parks landscaped with greenery and open vistas.

Key Point #4

In order to make the best use of greenery and open space, it must be positively incorporated into a community’s design.

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