Urban Nature

Nature + Health + Urban

In recent years, there has been increasing attention paid by scientists and public health experts to the salutary effects of nature in urban contexts. But how and why nature facilitates individual and community wellbeing often eludes the grasp of ordinary citizens and their policymakers who must weigh proposals for urban planning and zoning changes.  For more than 20 years, the TKF Foundation has supported intimate, open, urban green spaces in the mid-Atlantic region.  New projects engage researchers at major universities in documenting the social and therapeutic effects these sites have on people living in cities.  Committed to making nature’s benefits accessible to residents in every city neighborhood across the country, the Foundation engaged FrameWorks to understand how urban space can be better explained as a “must have” than a “nice to have”, part of intentionally funded and planned city-wide systems. 

To meet this challenge, FrameWorks researchers brought the tools of Strategic Frame Analysis®, identifying the expert story of urban nature and comparing it to the public narrative, paying close attention to the gaps between these two views.  In future research, FrameWorks hopes to develop reframing tools to strengthen public appreciation for, and understanding of, the benefits of nature to urban residents.

Research & Recommendations

**New**Nature Doesn’t Pay My Bills: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Urban Nature and Health (2015). This report compares and contrasts expert understandings of nature’s contributions to wellbeing in urban settings with the ways that everyday Americans think about nature, urban life and human wellbeing. Researchers document numerous aspects of nature’s broad benefits that remain invisible to public thinking. Public assumptions about cities as challenges to human wellbeing and nature as “natural,” not man-made, are explored. The result of this work is a strategic enumeration of the challenges facing those who wish to explain and improve urban access to nature.

FrameWorks Institute

  January 19, 2016