Richard Hopkins is a member of The Reporters Inc’s Advisory Committee. To learn more about him, click here.

Keeping Cities Green:

Perhaps a Trip Back in Time to Paris Might Provide Some Answers

October 2014


Imagine a world without parks. Imagine your town without them—your neighborhood! Many people tend to take those leafy green respites from our urban, concrete jungles for granted.

Yet in recent years, municipalities across the United States have started partnering with residents’ groups to implement comprehensive planning initiatives aimed at increasing urban green space and the urban forest. In New York City, for example, PlaNYC is committed to creating a park within a 10-minute walk for all city residents by 2030.

In Oakland, California, Urban Releaf (yes, it’s a play on Relief) stands as a successful public/private venture in which residents plant and maintain trees in their own neighborhoods, at once building a sense of community, increasing the urban forest, and restoring neglected sections of the city.

In 2012, the Chicago city administration announced a five-year plan to invest in green space acquisition, development, and renovation throughout the city, a plan that would impact the lives of an estimated 800,000 city residents. Similar programs have been launched in cities like Sacramento, Phoenix, Dallas, Portland, Oregon and other cities nationwide and around the world.

When we consider the kinds of changes to our contemporary cityscapes today–their meaning and implication—it’s often fruitful to look to the past, and even as far afield as Europe, because doing so adds a broader perspective on urban development and society, and raises larger questions for our consideration.

More than 150 years ago the city of Paris began an extensive program of green space development that involved the establishment of neighborhood parks and squares in every quarter of the city, coupled with the creation of tree-lined boulevards that effectively (more…)

Lori Aoki is a member of The Reporters Inc’s Advisory Committee. To learn more about her, click here.


October 2014


A couple months ago I overheard a conversation between some relatives about a friend whose daughter had suffered a concussion while playing basketball. The girl’s mom was lamenting how she was going to follow doctor’s orders to keep the girl still for a week.  My initial reaction was “Why is this even a question?  Does this mom not realize how serious it is for a ten-year-old to be suffering from a concussion?”

My second reaction was “Why is a ten-year-old getting a concussion playing recreational basketball?”  The feedback I got when I voiced this question was “You obviously don’t have kids participating in competitive sports.”  Yep. That’s right. My mistake. The injured ten-year-old isn’t on some YMCA rec league team.  She’s playing in the more “elite” ranks of competitive club sports.

Then I was told that in the more popular sports of soccer and basketball, competitive kids leagues can start as young as age six. Seriously? Is this what our society has come to?  That parents of children who can barely write or read are pushing their offspring to limits (more…)