April 5, 2023
We are living in a time when the global average temperature is rising, the sea levels and flooding risk due to climate change are increasing, and the quality and level of our water resources has become threatened. Prolonged drought is contributing to shortages on one hand, with extreme weather leading to increased rainfall, floods, mudslides and hurricanes at other times. It’s during this era that Blue Urbanism calls us all into action.
At its core, Blue Urbanism asks us “how we terrestrial urbanites” can steward and take care of these vital waterways around us – rivers that give life to fish species as well as plants; lakes that not only provide drinking water but also recreation for city-dwellers; beaches over which many children learn about nature from awe to respect; estuaries with stunning natural beauty enriched by human craftsmanship—the list goes on. Through Timothy Beatley’s book Blue Urbanism, he highlights imaginative ways each person can make a difference in order to help develop healthier coastal cities where people feel safer playing outdoors and no longer fear contamination or loss of their natural habitats – developing habitats for marine wildlife, implementing new tools or practices to clean up waste and pollution, restoring and developing waterside locations to cultivate resident and tourist connections, and more.
In this blog post, we explore why it matters that Norwalk Residents come together to understand what Blue Urbanism means and harness its capacity – so come join us!
What is Blue Urbanism?
Blue Urbanism has been gaining traction in the field of urban design as a framework for “living lightly across the land and waterscape”. Timothy Beatley, PhD, coined this term in 2005 and ever since it has been praised by architecture professionals for its ability to create thriving cities with an emphasis on sustainable development practices. Timothy’s vision for Blue Urbanism involves integrating urban sites with the surrounding water features, fostering regenerative ecosystems that are self-sustaining and resilient in nature. His emphasis is not only on developing positive relationships between humans and our environment but also between different communities and social classes. Timothy’s ideas have become increasingly popular due to increased awareness about climate change, as well as improved urban designs that are designed around sustainability. Blue Urbanism will continue to shape the way cities are developed, enabling smart growth initiatives that benefit everyone from citizens to business owners alike -all while protecting some of the most fragile ecosystems on earth!
The Need for Blue Urbanism and Its Impact
In recent years, urban planners and city officials have begun to recognize the importance of blue urbanism, which emphasizes the preservation and protection of water sources within and around cities. Through various initiatives like connecting parks and public spaces to bodies of water and cleaning up waterways, blue urbanism can foster an improved relationship between people and the rivers, lakes and oceans carved out by nature in our constructed environments. This is an important step towards managing our climate crisis responsibly while also reaping the economic, cultural, recreational and health benefits that access to clean water facilitates.
Challenges to Blue Urbanism
Blue Urbanism poses a visionary approach to urban development, ushering in a greener and healthier future. However, there are numerous challenges posed by making this vision a reality. The planning and implementation phases require extensive interdisciplinary research to ensure that all stakeholders – such as industry partners and communities who call the city home – are truly supported by this transformative shift in how we build our cities. Financing is also another great challenge, requiring strategic investments from both the public and private sectors if this sustainable urban model is to thrive. Lastly, Blue Urbanism must be developed from within the community – which means engaging and working with local citizens in order for them to understand their environmental responsibility and create meaningful urban spaces for themselves and for future generations.
Embracing Blue Urbanism Through Education, Engagement, and Stewardship
Norwalk is embracing Blue Urbanism by educating the public on water health, engaging in activities to protect our water resources, and creating an environment conducive to stewardship of Norwalk Watershed. Through collaborations with local organizations, Norwalk aims to foster better understanding of our watersheds and provide hands-on opportunities that empower citizens to take protective steps. Norwalk recognizes the power of citizen-centric solutions and will continue investing in educational programs and community engagement strategies that offer citizens the chance to participate in environmental stewardship efforts. In doing so, Norwalk is committed to preserving Norwalk’s waters for generations to come.
Successful Examples from Around the World
Blue urbanism is an approach coastal cities and city development groups can seek to find the balance between the protection, enjoyment, and proper use of water resources. Across the world, numerous cities have explored this developing way of looking at waterfronts, with stunning results. In Baltimore, the city and its residents have partnered with BioHabitats and the Living Classrooms Foundation to develop Oyster Gardens and Floating Wetlands that now span an area of approximately 2,000 sq. feet. These initiatives support their local marine habitats, remove pollution, and serve as educational tools. From creating efficient stormwater management systems and mangrove reforestation initiatives in China to rebuilding hurricane-devastated towns in Cuba, successful examples of blue urbanism are popping up everywhere. In these projects, locals often take a leading role in recreating their own environments while city planners and architects bring innovation to the processes, allowing for responsible and beneficial development with exceptional beauty.
Blue urbanism offers a great opportunity to improve our lives and the environment. By looking out for the health of our oceans and watersheds, we can ensure that future generations have access to clean water and healthy ecosystems. Furthermore, this approach can help reduce the carbon footprint in our cities by utilizing natural infrastructure and features such as parks and green roofs that each contribute to a healthier urban environment. With blue urbanism leading the way, we can make positive changes that will benefit both current and future generations. If you have questions or want to get more involved in our initiatives, contact us today!