Researcher Michael Gavin just presented a very interesting lecture in which he noted that green spaces in cities provide such social benefits as:
1. Increased social interaction in the community - more cohesion in neighborhoods with more green space (likely due to people spending more time outside in their shared green spaces)
2. Less social conflict
3. Reduced stress levels, and faster recovery from stressful events
4. Increased patient recovery from illness and injury - both in the quantity (faster) and quality (to what level they recover) of recovery
5. Kids and Playing: kids play more creatively, and more in general in neighborhoods with more green space.
But there is a problem here, with important implications for environmental justice.
It seems that areas of cities with the most green space tend to be the most affluent and the most white.
There are clear benefits to green space, but they are not equitably distributed throughout society.
This leaves me wondering if given findings like this, it would be a good idea, from a crime-reduction perspective, to target urban poor neighborhoods for greening projects. The results of this talk suggest that not only would these projects green what are currently often the most dismal and violent neighborhoods in cities. But they would also reduce social discord and stress, and increase community cohesion. Could urban greening therefore help to reduce the economic and health costs of urban crime and policing?
Anybody out there with more information on whether such projects are happening and what kind of results they are achieving?