The year's twilight is a good time to add a postscript to a previous item I wrote, at that time introducing work undertaken to help the City of Minneapolis evaluate the prospect of converting downtown land area to open space. Since that post in fall, 2007, Donjek has been engaged on projects in a similar vein in Little Rock, Arkansas and I have written a number of short commentary pieces on that project and issues surrounding parks.
In 1543, Copernicus published “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres,” which sketched out a vision that the Earth, as a round and floating form, circled the Sun along with neighboring planets. History will not rank innovations in mapping technology in recent years in the Copernicus league; these tools haven’t initiated fundamental challenges to political and religious orders required to justify that comparison. However, I have been amazed to see changes in the geographic information systems (GIS) realm, and in related map technology.
Last April, en route to a conference of the International Economic Development Council in Washington, D.C., I encountered a feature story in National Geographic and became lost in the journey. The topic? The history of Velcro.
The capabilities of today's biomimeticists to understand the functions of plants and animals inspired a response of marvel from me. Human understanding of the complexity of the relationships among the flora and fauna around us is similarly advancing. Placemakers shaping our cities and metro areas have much to gain from imitating nature, extending from building healthy human habitat to applying the lessons of diversity to our urban economic thinking.