Nature in the city : an exploration of urban park planning in response to contemporary relationships with the natural environment

Gae VanSiri
One of the fundamental roles that urban parks play is to serve as a reflection of public sentiment concerning relationships with nature. Within a shared social context, each person comes to her or his own understanding of an agreeable way to interact with the urban natural environment. The construction of this understanding is dynamic. It occurs as an ongoing process of internalization of culturally determined ethical perspectives and of reflection on experiences created through individual
more » ... ugh individual circumstance. Differences in this understanding shape different expectations for what is an appropriate way to relate to urban nature. Addressing the array of simultaneously occurring expectations the public has for experiencing nature in the city is an-ongoing project in the planning and design of urban parks. This study makes a significant contribution to the challenges facing park planning in North America by documenting public ideas about the purpose, intent and use of urban natural area park land. It suggests a model for understanding the various relationships people have with the natural environment. The study suggests, as well, that the romanticized view of wilderness is profoundly influential in shaping urban nature. These concerns are explored within the general theoretical context of ideas about nature and creating meaning from experiences, and through analysis of results of a public survey conducted in Calgary, Alberta. The model developed in this study presents a psychographic profile of four basic modes of interacting with nature and explains how these relationships are reflected in expectations for the provision of urban nature experiences. The Consumer, Adventurer, Steward and Guardian all are oriented differently toward the planning, care and management of urban natural area park land. Together they form a composite outlook on the urban natural environment that can best be described as cautious consumption. The study raises the possibility that subsequent research could work to explore shared expecta [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0088314 fatcat:pedfaydipbbhzhcbyjypzy636i