CHILDREN & NATURE BELONG DOWNTOWN: Let’s Create a New Vision : The New Nature Movement

Children in a park in Portland. From

In this post, Mary Vogel discusses some of the challenges of families that want to move to the city. There are a number of issues that face an urban family; affordable housing, quality schools, the perception of crime, and sufficient green space are just a few of them. She discusses the plans that Portland has to convert parts of its riverfront to beaches (hopefully the Willamette’s waters are clean enough for such a proposal). Portland also has long, linear parks running through it’s downtown, which are another opportunity to interact with nature. She also mentions green streets. Conspicuously lacking from her assessment is Forest Park, the largely undisturbed forest immediately west of Downtown, which I visited on my honeymoon and went hiking, which is not something I care to do often but felt compelled to because it was just so close. As someone who will, in just a few months, be a father, and wants to stay in a walkable, urban place, these are strong concerns for me, and I hope that in the coming years cities will start to take the concerns of urban families under consideration.

The Next Big Question Facing Cities: Will Millennials Stay? – The Atlantic Cities

Millennials have come back to the city. Will they stay? From

This post from Rolf Pendall discusses what the future of cities will be as the Millennials continue to grow up. A generation ago when our parents came of age in the 70s and 80s, they fled cities to the suburbs. But, since our generation is putting off marriage and child bearing until later in life, Pendall argues that Millennials will put down roots in the city and may not want to leave when they reach these stages in life. Schools are also improving in cities and crime is going down, which make conditions better for families. As someone who hopes to have kids soon, I hope that this happens, but I am still concerned about urban schools. Cities like Philadelphia have some of the worst schools in the country, and as much as I want to stay in the city, I might prefer to move to a transit-accessible suburb if it means a better chance for my kids. Cities have done a good job of attracting single people to cities with active uses and affordable housing. Next, they need to improve schools and parks to keep them there as they have kids.

Brent Toderian: Want Families Downtown? Design for Them!

Families can live in the city. From

Brent Toderian wrote this post on families in the city, inspired by recent comments from Toronto’s deputy mayor about how cities are bad for families. He argues that this actually may be true, but it is because cities haven’t been designed for families. They lack family services, such as daycare, parks, and schools (or, in most of America, adequate schools), and often there aren’t housing units large enough for families. Toderian calls kids an “indicator species” for good neighborhoods, because if a neighborhood is good for kids, it is good for almost everyone. My desire to attract families to cities is somewhat selfish, because I want to be able to live in a vibrant, urban community with the services I enjoy, but I want to have a family, I want to have spaces for my kids to play, and I want to send them to good schools, ideally without paying more to send them to private schools. Attracting families will also help bring the middle class back to cities and broaden the tax base. I’ve commented on this a lot, but I think that cities should do more to attract and retain families.

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