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Debates on Future Challenges in Green Development of Urban Cores – A Podcast Portal and Knowledge Creation Platform

GUF EP. 11: From “Smart” Cities to Intelligent Communities: The Espoo Story Päivi Sutinen is the Director for City as a Service Development at the City of Espoo- Finland. In this episode, She will talk to us about the “Espoo Story”, the city strategy of past, present and future vision moving Espoo towards the creation of a “new urban culture,” that lives and grows in a community of trust with a strong network sharing capacity. In recent years, the city of Espoo has emerged as an example of urban innovation in human-centric planning, one of the reasons why in 2018, Espoo was selected the Intelligent Community of the Year. During our talk, Päivi explains the dynamic participatory process behind developing the city with its citizens and describes the methodologies used in the city's co-creative process. We learn from Päivi how the vision of Espoo as a “network city” is linked to its values represented in its polycentric planning of 5-city centers, forgoing the ordinary single-urban centre development structure typical of most cities. So, when asked about the vision for green Espoo, Päivi mentioned that having 5-city centres is something that helps residents live closer to nature. “Each city center is relatively small in size which means that nature is close by” explains Päivi.

EP. 11 – From “Smart” City to Intelligent Communities-The Espoo Story:  How can the structure of the city shape its future? In this episode, we have invited Päivi Sutinen, the Director of the City as a Service Development at the City of Espoo to share the Espoo Story with us and how the network structure of her city Espoo is supporting transformation towards a sustainable future. In our talk, Päivi explains the highly participatory approach that characterizes the city strategy and how relationships between nature, technology, people and urban planning (central axis) are shaping urban development.  Päivi also share with us the vision of Espoo as a “close to nature” green city. In Espoo, common values are strongly intertwined with how the city plans for the future.  On this, Päivi mentions how Espoo’s polycentric structure allows people from all areas a year-long access to nature areas for wellbeing.  Espoo is one of the fastest growing cities in Finland.  In the beginning of the 1950s, roughly 20,000 people lived in Espoo. Today, its population is roughly 272,000 people and the city is expected to reach 300,000 inhabitants by or before the year 2022 (City of Espoo). Link: City of Espoo.

EP. 09 – THE CIVIC CITY IN A NOMADIC WORLD: Charles Landry is an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change.  He created the concept of the Creative City in the late 1980s to help people and cities think, plan and act with imagination. Charles helps cities identify and make the most of their potential opening up the conversation about more desirable futures.  During our session, Charles talks about some of the key messages of his latest project, The Civic City in a Nomadic World aim to start the conversation about the promise of a different urban civilization.  According to Charles, everything emerging is one way or another, is connected to mobility and movement.  “More people for more reason than before, are criss-crossing the globe, from one city to the next in search of better work or life.”  Some of Charles’ research and initiatives include the Urban Psyche Test and the Creative City Index in collaboration with the City of Bilbao.
EP. 08 – PAYMENTS FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN URBAN AREAS: THE CASE OF SYDNEY: In this episode we speak with Dr. Benjamin Thompson, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sydney to discuss the financing strategies and economic viability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in the context of urban settings.  In our session we discuss Ben's ecosystem services habitat restoration publication: Urban Ecosystems: A New Frontier for Payments for Ecosystem Services and dig deeper into the key considerations in terms of equity, and ecosystem disservices as potential difficulties when applying PES schemes in urban cores like the CBD of Sydney.
EP. 07 – BILBAO, CITY OF VALUES: What is a city without values? In this episode of the podcast we speak with Gotzone Sagardui, the Deputy Mayor of the City Bilbao to find out how Bilbao is planning to attain high levels of social progress and what is the next transformation the city will face. During our talk, she explains why Bilbao is focusing on values, what is called, Bilbao Charter of Values, and the importance of addressing issues of human rights in city planning.  According to Gotzone, Bilbao wants to be known as a social progress city where success is measured by the quality of life of the last citizen not the first. Looking into the future, Bilbao is inviting citizens to reflect on core values to drive urban inner change.  Links: Proyecto AS-FABRIK
EP.06 – THE FIFTH DIMENSION OF GREEN ROOFS–IDEAL FUTURES FOR GREENING THE CITY COREMarja Mesimäki is an environmental sociologist at the University of Helsinki.  Her research focus is on issues concerning values, meanings and the experiential dimension of urban green roofs.  In this podcast, we discuss Marja’s latest work, what she calls, the fifth dimension of green roofs for urban areas. Using the method of empathy-based stories to study the green roof potential in the City of Helsinki. Marja talks about her observations when applying a human perception approach to the field of green roofs research.  According to Marja, a focus on the sensory and experiential qualities of green roofs create opportunities for improving liveability in cities by addressing the needs of the different user groups and the importance of human interaction with the space. Links: Neo-spaces for urban livability? Urbanites’ versatile mental images of green roofs in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Finland.
EP.05 – THE SCIENCE OF PARADIGM SHIFTS-PERSPECTIVES ON A NEW FUTURE FOR CIVILISATION: Carlos Alvarez Pereira is a member of the Club of Rome and president of the Innaxis Foundation. In this podcast, Carlos talks about the Emerging New Civilization Initiative (ENCI) within the Club of Rome towards holistic thinking and more positive outcomes for the future. He discusses a new outlook for humanity based on making human well-being compatible with a healthy biosphere and points out at the importance of changing the basic metabolism of societies as the material foundation for systemic change.  On raising awareness, Carlos talks about the role and achievements of the Club of Rome in the past 50 years, and also the shortcomings as seen in the unsustainable paths of our current development models.  Addressing the scientific theory of paradigm shifts, he explains how interdependence, is the single most importance piece we need to build upon. According to Carlos, the process of transformation and reconnecting with our own capacity for system thinking will not happen in isolation or from a purely individual perspective.  As he explains, transformation can best happen in the collective perspective and in grasping complexity in the interaction with others in ways that enable societies to behave differently.  In our discussion, Carlos highlights the need to create spaces for people to use their capacity to think in systems: "Cities are very peculiar places because in the most extreme manifestations, they are designed for only one species while anywhere else on earth there is place for not one but multiple manifestations of life”–explains Carlos.
EP.04 – URBAN BIOGEOGRAPHY RESTORING ECOLOGY IN THE CITY–THE CASE OF LOS ANGELES:  In this episode of the Urban Futures Podcast, we speak with Travis Longcore, Associate Adjunct Professor at UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and director of The Urban Wildlands Group.  During our session, Travis speaks about the essential role nature and biodiversity play in cities.  From an ecological perspective, he highlights the interdependences between urban settings and species conservation, stressing our dependence on urban conservation to protect and preserve habitat and wildlife.  In his work as a scientist, Travis calls attention to the biogeographical disproportions in the urban landscape contributing to widening the urban nature gap.  Travis shares with us, his experiences and lessons learned on the Green Vision Plan for the City of Los Angeles, Unpaving paradise: the Green Visions Plan(2012) and explains the key challenges hindering progress in urban ecology still today; e.g., park equity in communities with insufficient access to green space; and the lack of government and community recognition of the value in nature for ecological restoration.  In making LA a biodiversity-conscious community, it is evident that the connection between socioecological processes and habitat protection offer opportunities for greening cities.
EP.03 – SYSTEMS INTELLIGENCE AND FEEDBACK LOOPS SHAPING THE CITIES OF TOMORROW:  In this episode, we sit with Carlo Ratti from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab http://http://senseable.mit.edu to talk about the rise of urban intelligence and the creation of feedback loops between humans and the built environment.  During our talk, Carlo explains how the ability to collect and use data to better understand, design and learn how we live in cities, is just the beginning of a new type of urban intelligence empowered by citizens.  Carlo talks about two projects by the Sensible City Lab: Treepeida; and the City Nature Challenge as examples of progress for how to measure green areas in cities.  He explains that using data-driven technologies to read and understand urban nature, is an opportunity for change.  In his most recent publication, The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life (2016), he suggests that the future of the built environment will be strongly shaped by the new norms in communication and interactions that will significantly transform the urban space of today.
EP.02 - URBAN FORESTS IN CONCRETE JUNGLES:  Joining us on this program is Nora C. Davis, a Research Social Scientist at the U.S. Forest Service; and Dr. Michele Romolini, Managing Director of the Loyola Marymount University Centre for Urban Resilience (CURes).  Our talk focuses on human-nature interconnections and the work that both, Nora and Michelle have been doing in the field of urban forestry through user-inspired research and Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP).  During our talk, we discuss, the imperatives of working with disadvantaged communities to improve urban nature and the critical role grass-roots organisations have for tackling nature-related deficiencies in the highly concrete-covered city of Los Angeles. Links/Resources: Website: https://www.fs.fed.us/research/people/profile.php?alias=noradavis.
EP. 01 - GLOBAL FORCES MOVING URBAN FUTURES:  Fernando Lopez-Alves is a Professor of Sociology, and Global and International Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara.  Fernando will talk with us about his latest book: Populist Nationalism in Europe and the Americas and discuss polarisation phenomena in cities. Through the lens of the emerging nationalist and populist movements, Fernando will explain how urbanisation and sprawl are directly affecting the future of cities, globalisation, and politics in America and present his views on the challenges he sees emerging between increasingly polarised urban-rural societies. Links/Resources: Website: https://www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/fernando-lopez-alves Book: Populist Nationalism in Europe and the Americas