Northampton: Dr. Rutherford Platt to Speak on The Humane Metropolis, March 9

We are pleased to publicize the following announcement:

The Environment Task Force of the Hampshire Interfaith Council is pleased to present

The Humane Metropolis–People and Nature in the 21st Century City

An illustrated talk by
Rutherford H. Platt

Sunday, March 9, at 7 p.m.
Edwards Church
299 Main Street at corner of Main and State
Northampton, MA

Dr. Platt is professor of geography emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and founder of the Ecological Cities Project, now located in Northampton. The talk will be based on his edited book of the same title published in 2006 by the University of Massachusetts Press and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. See: for more information.

As cities become the dominant living environment for humans, there is a growing concern about how to make such places more habitable, more healthy and safe, more ecological and more equitable–in short more humane.

Rutherford H. Platt
This program is free and open to the public. All are encouraged to attend. For more information, please call Tina Clarke at 413-549-6834 (cell phone 413-658-8165).

See also:

The Ecological Cities Project: Greenspace in “The Humane Metropolis”
A metropolis (i.e., metro region or citistate) is considered green if it fosters humans’ connections to the natural world — an idea Anne Whiston Spirn promoted in her seminal 1984 book The Granite Garden. Spirn rejected the idea — easily absorbed if one watches too many “concrete jungle” films, or even televised nature documentaries — that the natural world begins beyond the urban fringe. “Nature in the city,” she wrote, “must be cultivated, like a garden, rather than ignored or subdued.”

…The “humane metropolis” advocates, bent on shared streets and spaces, have no single solution. Their idea is simply to protect and create all possible natural areas — parks, greenways, forest tracts — fostering a shared sense of “ecological stewardship.” They’re strongly for promotion of urban gardening and farm markets. They support efforts toward environmental justice, so that low-income areas are not burdened with undue, damaging pollution.

Rutherford Platt, “Regreening the Metropolis: Pathways to More Ecological Cities”
In the 1950s, the conventional wisdom–for the affluent at least–was that cities are where people are, and the country is where you go on weekends and vacations to find Nature in some place bucolic or maritime. But today, even for those who can afford it, the time and cost of escaping the metropolis has grown with the spread of the metropolis itself and the growing numbers of vehicles trying to leave it… Meanwhile, those who cannot afford to sit in traffic in their SUV–the poor, the elderly, the infirm–are sentenced to live out their lives in the metropolitan environment, come what may…

…cities and metropolitan areas, now too large to conveniently escape, must themselves be viewed as incorporating both built and unbuilt environments… And into the bargain, the urban environment will prove to be more habitable, more sustainable, more “ecological”…

[A] root of the ecological city lies in the long tradition of providing opportunities for urban residents to simply get outdoors [e.g. the parks of Frederick Law Olmsted]…

…Some strategies that have been identified by the Ecological Cities Project (, based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, include

  • rehabilitation and restoration of older parks and urban green spaces;

  • protection and restoration of urban wetlands and other sensitive habitat;

  • preservation of old growth trees and forest tracts;

  • development of greenways and rail trails;

  • green design of buildings, including green roofs and green schools;

  • brownfield remediation and reuse;

  • urban watershed management…
Greening Smart Growth: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

UMass Press: “Natural Land: Preserving and Funding Open Space”

Smart Growth with Balance: The American Planning Association