The Urban Communication Reader III
2 Defining a “Livable City”: Parks, Suburbanization, and the Shaping of Community Identity and Ecological Responsibility
Ames, Iowa: A Livable City on the Prairie
Defining a “Livable City”
Parks, Suburbanization, and the Shaping of Community Identity and Ecological Responsibility
Margaret R. LaWare
Much of the contemporary literature on sustainable cities and communities revolves not only around sustainable buildings, housing developments, and transportation, but also about sustaining and conserving history and ecology, conserving open spaces and saving them from encroaching urban and suburban sprawl in order to preserve opportunities for sociability. As the urban planner Peter Calthorpe (2011) observes, open spaces within cities and open space corridors within regions must be recognized as vital public spaces, as “the commons.” Calthorpe (2011) writes, “A neighborhood’s open space, like the region’s, is as much a part of its commons as are its civic institutions and commercial centers” (p. 57). Gumpert and Drucker (2008) similarly recognize this communicative function of parks in their work on communicative cities, recognizing that, in providing relief from density and sprawl, parks provide possibilities for interaction between community members and public spaces for celebrations and other communal activities, spaces “to congregate and play” (p. 202). By providing places to “congregate and play,” parks can serve as a medium for a community to both see itself as a community within the present moment, enabling community members to understand their common interests as a public community, as well as what it means to live together within a particular ecological and/or historical space. As Calthorpe (2011) points out, parks and preserves “are fundamental to (a neighborhood’s...
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