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If city-dwellers wanted to visit a green space in the 19th century, they likely found themselves at a cemetery. During much of that time, cemeteries played the role that city parks often do today, acting as a spot for people to gather. But increasingly over the past decade, communities have once again embraced hanging out in cemeteries. “Kennesaw was looking for ways to instead of fencing off to make it more accessible to their citizens,” says Holly Vine, executive assistant at the Atlanta Regional Commission planning agency. The city worked with ARC to gauge resident opinion and make the publicly owned Kennesaw City Cemetery into a green space for its burgeoning downtown. The cemetery, whose earliest known burial dates to 1863, has some prominent residents who contributed to Kennesaw’s founding. Follow this link to read more. Sourced from: Next City
Even a few months into lockdown, we are still figuring out new ways to live, learn, work, and play. In every major facet of society, we are watching as the systems that once kept us going are breaking down. One particular area of focus has been on public education as schools close their doors and scramble to move classes online. The headlines highlight students and teachers struggling to adapt to this new mode of learning, and parents struggling to manage their kids, work, and household responsibilities simultaneously. Some school districts are choosing to shut down for the year, unable to make the transition to remote learning; some parents have flat out given up on homeschooling, unable to deal with the demands of work and their kids' classes. Follow this link to read more. Sourced from: Data-Smart City Solutions
Research cannot be excluded from conversations about systemic racism. We rely on the research process to expose systemic issues and guide us toward solutions. But deeply rooted in this process is a power dynamic, an aspect of research that dims its idealism when examined up close. It is our responsibility, then, to put in the work—examining our methods for harmful and disempowering practices, acknowledging them, and committing to a new approach. Research, even in pursuit of equity, isn’t exempt from racial and ethnic discrimination. Since the Urban Institute’s founding 50 years ago by then-president Lyndon B. Johnson, we’ve had to reckon with the behavior and the environment that shaped our founding principles. But beyond good intentions, the solution requires critical evaluation, explicit action, and accountability measures, often disruptive and uncomfortable, to effectively dismantle racist structures. Follow this link to learn more. Sourced from: Urban Institute
Do you want to improve your racial awareness but don't know where to start? Join Cuyahoga County 4-H Extension Professionals Imani Scruggs and Rob Isner in this weekly series. Imani and Rob discuss in a non-formal, non-judgmental space a variety of topics on each other’s respective races that they (and possibly you) have always been curious about. They will post weekly videos so you can watch the conversation. Follow Cuyahoga County Extension on social media to add to the dialogue. Follow this link to view Episode 1 and Episode 2.  Sourced from: Cuyahoga County Extension
Dear Ohio State Community: Juneteenth celebrates the day, June 19, 1865, when enslaved people still in bondage in Texas, on the western edge of the confederacy, were finally read the federal orders that legally freed them under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation was dated January 1, 1863, but only applied to slaves held in the confederacy and thus had no power of enforcement until the end of the Civil War. And although the confederacy had surrendered two months before, federal troops bearing the news did not arrive in Texas until June. The celebration of that day is now observed officially in 49 states (Ohio’s recognition dates to 2006), and there is a movement, which I support, to declare it as a federal holiday. It is important that we reflect on the significance of Juneteenth every year. This year, it has taken on special importance. As we see in stark terms every day, freedom is more than the absence of bondage. One hundred and fifty-five years after the end of the Civil War, we still struggle as a nation to rid ourselves of the yoke of our original constitutional sin. As frustrating and infuriating as the progress-backlash cycle of human justice can be, there are from time to time hopeful signs. Over these past three weeks, people around the world have raised their voices and demonstrated passionately. We are denouncing racism and all forms of bigotry. We demand a better world. In towns large and small, new allies have emerged to join the fight. Policies are under review, and change is underway. Meaningful change is difficult and elusive. But change we must. And change we will. As a member of our Ohio State community, in recognition and celebration of Juneteenth, please set aside a part of your day today to contemplate and reflect on the meaning of emancipation, the importance of freedom, and the obligation that we all share to make this world a better place. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has compiled information on a number of ways we can commemorate Juneteenth:
  • Learn how other countries have sought to reconcile their difficult histories: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission or Rwanda’s Justice and Reconciliation Process.
  • Volunteer with a local service and/or social justice organization whose work aligns with the spirit and intent of Juneteenth.
  • Attend a virtual or socially distanced Juneteenth event in your area. Columbus is hosting many events from which to choose.
  • Read a book about Juneteenth.
Virtually explore the National Museum of African American History & Culture. I am proud of our community, and I know that we have the power to make a difference. Sincerely, Michael V. Drake, MD
Public and outdoor space has been at a premium during the coronavirus pandemic: bike sales have leapt, park use is way up, and even pavement chalk drawing appears to be having a moment. Now as many cities start to reopen, some are looking at their sidewalks, squares, parking lots, and even streets as a hidden asset in boosting their economies. "The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our relationship with our streets, open public spaces, and public facilities," said Laura Petrella, chief of planning, finance, and economy at UN-Habitat. "Public space has emerged as a critical lifeline for cities and their residents," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Follow this link to learn more. Sourced from: Thomas Reuters Foundation News
Franklin County Master Gardners In Columbus, Franklin County Master Gardener Volunteers are addressing food insecurity in neighborhoods throughout the city which are considered food deserts. Franklin MGVs have received exemptions to re-start four food production projects throughout the city and at Waterman Farm on The Ohio State University campus to address the increased level of food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. Franklin MGVs maintain 72 ongoing projects throughout the community. During the 2019 growing season they produced and donated 21,425 pounds of vegetables, fruit, and herbs to dozens of neighborhood food pantries in Columbus. Franklin County MGVs help maintain community gardens, urban farms, and two public fruit parks throughout the city. During 2019, 235 MGVs in Franklin County donated 16,811 volunteer hours in the community. Follow this link to learn more. Article courtesy of Mike Hogan,  Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator, Franklin County, Ohio.
Shrinking cities are a global phenomenon, with notable examples in Europe, North America, Asia, and other parts of the world. Past research has examined shrinking cities in reference to spatial patterns, demographic shifts, de-industrialization, and urban governance. There is growing literature focused on the theoretical underpinnings of shrinking cities which questions the salience of existing urban growth paradigms. A common, but underdeveloped, thread in the literature on shrinking cities involves the challenge of promoting social justice and equity. Follow this link to read more. Sourced from: Journal of Urban Affairs
UN-Habitat’s most popular video series, the Global Urban Lectures, launches its sixth season on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. With over 170,000 views from 65 countries to date, the series of 15-minute video lectures features renowned experts discussing cutting-edge research and practical recommendations on advancing urban sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals in cities. The sixth series features 10 lectures providing quick and efficient online learning tools for local government officials, students, academics, and other urban professionals at a time when meetings and lectures are cancelled. Dr. Sahar Attia, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Cairo University and chair of UN-Habitat’s university partnership, UN-Habitat UNI, emphasizes the importance of digital learning on urban issues today: "With digital education becoming the new normal, the Global Urban Lectures offer innovative and practical distance learning not only for students, scholars, and researchers but also to a wider range of audiences interested in the challenges of cities today." Follow this link to learn more. Sourced from: UN-Habitat
The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development recently published the article “Integrating a food systems lens into discussions of urban resilience: Analyzing the policy environment.” The article weaves the complexity of urban issues on sustainability and resilience with a food systems thread. One quote from the article says, “Food systems thinking holds tremendous integrative potential to address myriad, complex, and thorny issues at once, and can no longer be relegated to an afterthought.” Sourced from: The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development