smart cities

Bee the change

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Every life matters. Be a positive change in your town with a little effort: protect your bees and plant some flowers in your balcony!

#BeetheChange #Landscape #UrbanGardens #ClimateChange #ClimateChangeSummit

Day 86 #100dayproject: Happy Cities.

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The most recent studies show us an uncomfortable truth: we are what our city are. Unless you live isolated in the wonderful mountains of Swiss, you must live –like myself– in the middle of a major city. However, many of us we don’t hesitate to live into a city in rather to live in most remote regions of the world. Only the movies gives us some wonderful stories about people who abandon all its possessions and begins a new life of adventures and sacrifice, like Bilbo Baggins style, in The Hobbit.

The cities are most amazing and complex invent in the history of our specie. The ants have colonies, but we created cities and civilizations. The cities has been studied for many years, since the Greeks and has been studied from different theories, with more accent in its characteristics. For example. In others posts of this same book we seen the theories of Jane Jacobs, more close to biology and functionalism. Other authors, like Richard Sennett talk about the human cities as a mirror of the human body:

The modern urban geography, like the modern technology, brings to us the first sight deeply problems in the western civilization to concept spaces for the human body in that the bodies are aware from each other.[1]

The award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery explain the organic evolution of cities from the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, during an exhilarating journey through some of the world’s most dynamic cities. He believes in the existence of Happy Cities, a very unique conjunction between urban planning and human psychology. However, in his own words, the cities has a lot to learn about its own management:

“By spending resources and designing cities in a way that values everyone’s experience, we can make cities that help us all get stronger, more resilient, more connected, more active and freer.

We just have to decide who our cities are for.[2]

Charles Montgomery

Environmental psychology has their own explanations for the way that people perceive and mark their preferences[3] for a certain environment/city in terms of feelings[4], emotions and, even, distances[5]. One of that feelings if they city or environment makes the people happier than others, and the factors that play different roles for that results are amazing and very complex for the major scale studies. For example, the number of light hours/day.

The subtitle of Ed Glaesar’s recent book, Triumph of the City, states that urban areas make people richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier[6]. A pair of researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas aren’t so sure about that last one. In a recent paper published in the Journal of Urban Geography[7], Brian Berry and Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, as they move from small town to suburb to city, they find a gradual decrease in subjective well-being:

There are many benefits of big-city living; high levels of happiness are not among them.

In words from Eric Jaffe, happiness is complicated. Wherever you live.


[1] Sennet, R. (2002). Carne y piedra. El cuerpo y la ciudad en la civilización occidental. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.

[2] This is an edited extract from Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design, by Charles Montgomery (Penguin). 4 November 2013. Posted by The Guardian.

[3] Kaplan, S. & Kaplan, R. (1982). Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an uncertain world. New York: Praeger.

[4] Edney, J.J. (1972). Place and space: The effects of experience with a physical locale. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 8, 124-135.

[5] Nasar, J.L., Valencia, H., Omar, Z.A., Chueh, S., & Hwang, J. (1985). Out of sight further from mind: Destination, visibility, and distance perception. Environment and Behavior, 17, 627-639.

[6] http://www.amazon.com/Triumph-City-Greatest-Invention-Healthier/dp/159420277X

[7]http://bellwether.metapress.com/content/p350761762640362/?p=c58b769487ab4c7294e34a145252de4e&pi=6