I finished Jeff Speck’s “Walkable City” this week, and am buying some street trees for my neighborhood. My appreciation, understanding and wariness of green infrastructure is growing. His book is full of boilerplate on many urbanist topics, such as inviting nature into the city as street trees and keeping nature out of the city with too many pocket parks and lawn setbacks.
I agree with Speck that urbanism, the encouragement to walk every place, is not served by too much nature interrupting the tapestry of things to walk by and see. The real service of the city to nature is when it attracts people to love and walk there, and not live and drive in the trackless suburbs. If nature is going to be in the city , it must be subordinate to the goal of walkability and urbanism. Yes to street trees, yes to natural block cut-throughs and yes to activated riparian parks like San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Not to large setbacks, no to monuments and towers on grassy plazas, and no to parks that do not offer more freedom and wonder to walkers. Continue reading