Publications and Media

New Inroads to Community-Centric Placemaking

By Lisa Palmer

In 2013, when an urban renewal agency began working on the Helenvale community of Gqeberha, a port city on Algoa Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, the inhabitants had much to gain. With three out of four adult residents unemployed, a 9% high school graduation rate, a great percentage of households with no income, the highest violent crime rate in the country, and 22 gangs operating among 5,000 households, those involved in the renewal thought that any improvement would offer advantages to Helenvale. Yet, initial attempts met resistance. Urban designers, technocrats, academics and social workers all provided insights, but the community rejected them. For Debbie Hendricks, operations executive of the Mandela Bay Development Agency, that process was humbling, mostly because the community expressed that it needed help safeguarding residents even though the urban planning changes required seemed intangible. The community wanted safe passages to schools and better lighting on streets and sidewalks. Residents wanted a sports field on neutral ground. They wanted their youth to develop the ability to become employed.

Construction on a bridge is visible from Bukit Brown Cemetary, Singapore. Credit: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

“Helenvale was a sterile environment beset with every possible problem and a deep sense of pain as a result of the South African legacy,” said Hendricks. “Although the community had very, very little, they were adamant that the community and place be recognized as they were. It wasn’t a matter of creating a new place but of enhancing what was there already; it was not physical. We had been challenged because, as urban planners, we want to put things in boxes, and it was clear that was not going to work in this area.”

As urban landscapes continue to grapple with multifaceted challenges, the role of bottom-up and cross-sector placemaking in community transformation has emerged as a pivotal force. Placemaking leverages the vision and resources of local users, sometimes with the help of private investments, to shape and support public spaces, such as parks and plazas. Cities are now developing new approaches to address community needs by detaching some of the decision-making from city hall and putting it into the hands of community members. For cities, this has meant becoming comfortable with the informality and partnership approaches that can ensure stable place making from the ground up. Innovations in urban placemaking and place governance now include a change in who makes decisions about access to goods and services in a city. … (Read the complete story in Nature Cities. )

How trees and forests reduce risks from climate change

By Lisa Palmer

Across the globe, increasing tree cover is a popular solution to offset carbon emissions. Replenishing trees is only part of the answer, and scientists seek an increased role as part of a multi-layered policy approach.

Meta, Colombia. Photo by Lisa Palmer

Published in Nature Climate Change, May 2021.

Finding Peace

Displaced and disenfranchised by decades of war, some Colombians are rebuilding their lives—and their forests—through ranching.

RED-LETTER DAY As part of a reparations program, the Colombian government offered Mercedes Murillo Gutierrez a parcel of scrubland to farm. © Juan Arredondo

Published in Nature Conservancy, May 30, 2020

Hacking Conservation

Alex Dehgan leads the technology non-profit Conservation X Labs from Washington DC. Credit: Stephen Voss for Nature

Published in Nature, May 30, 2019

Meeting the leadership challenges for interdisciplinary environmental research

Published in Nature Sustainability, July 16, 2018

One meal a day

Photograph by Chris De Bode

Published in The New Republic, July 2017

Urban Agriculture growth in U.S. cities

Published in Nature Sustainability, January 8, 2018

Adding power to the value of trees

Published in Nature Energy, April 11, 2017

‘It’s a perverse system’: How Colombia’s farmers are reforesting their logged land

Published in The Guardian, December 29, 2017

The next water cycle

Published in Nature Climate Change, October 29, 2014

Colombia finds hope for saving its wild lands.

Published in E360, October 25, 2017.

 A new climate for grazing livestock.

Published in Nature Climate Change, May 8, 2014

New Security Beat (Feb. 12, 2020). To Envision a More Sustainable Future, Tell the Story of Conservation Technology.

Mongabay (August 15, 2019). Precision conservation: High tech to the rescue in the Peruvian Amazon.

Mongabay (June 1, 2018). Private sector leaders seek to ramp up investment in sustainable landscapes with help of public partners.

The Guardian (Dec. 29, 2017). How Colombia’s farmers are reforesting their logged land.

E360 (October 25, 2017). With new peace, Colombia finds hope for saving its wild lands.

Scientific American (May 22, 2017). Feeding a Hot, Hungry Planet. Commentary.

EHN’s Environmental Health News (March 28, 2017). Is Soil the Great New Integrator?

Ensia (January 11, 2017). The Amazing Opportunity 2017 is Bringing to Business.

Ensia (January 11, 2017). Now More Than Ever We Need To Address the Environment and Human Rights Together.

Ensia (January 11, 2017). We’ve Done a Good Job Of Envisioning a Better World. Now We Need to Build It.

Ensia (January 11, 2017). It’s Time To Stop Overspending Our Freshwater Budget.

Ensia (Dec. 27, 2016). Technology Got Us Into This Climate Mess, and it Can Help Get Us Out—If We Let It.

New Security Beat (Nov. 2, 2016). Could Climate Change Keep Kids Out of School?

E360 (May 10, 2016). How Rising CO2 Levels May Contribute to Die-Off of Bees.

Nautilus (Dec. 4, 2015). I went to India and Saw the Future of Climate-Smart Farming.

Pulitzer Center (Nov. 21, 2015). Learning from India’s “Smart” Farming Villages.

Climate Connections (Nov. 19, 2015). Learning From India’s Climate Smart Farming Villages.

E360 (Nov. 5, 2015). Will Indonesian Fires Spark Reform of Rogue Forest Sector?

The Guardian (Oct. 12, 2015). India’s Climate Tech Revolution is Starting in its Villages.

The Guardian (Aug 15, 2015). Businesses Delivering the Most Coveted Perk: A Better Commute.

Climate Connections (July 8, 2015). Climate change Poses Challenges for Land Trusts.

Climate Connections (May 13, 2015). Challenges Ahead for California Ag Water Users.

E360 (Feb. 5, 2015). Agricultural Movement Tackles Challenges of a Warming World.

The Guardian (Jan. 13, 2015). Can a New Form of Accounting Save Animals from Extinction?

New Security Beat (Nov. 25, 2014). Can Ecologists and Engineers Work Together to Harness Water for the Future?

E360 (June 5, 2014). How Weeds Could Help Feed Billions in a Warming World.

Slate Magazine (April 10, 2014). Famine is a Feminist Issue.

E360 (March 13, 2014). In the Pastures of Colombia, Cows and Crops Coexist.

Climate Connections (Feb. 5, 2014). Can Unbiased, Fact-Based, In-Depth Environmental News Compete?

Climate Connections (Feb. 11, 2014). Scientist Boesch Emphasizes Ecosystems Management Approaches.

The Guardian (Jan. 22, 2014). Wanted: A Clean Trillion Dollar Investment to Limit Climate Change.

Climate Connections (Dec. 19, 2013). Reviewing Top U.S. Climate News Stories of 2013.

The Guardian (Nov. 15, 2013). Green Homes for the Masses.

Climate Connections (Nov. 5, 2013). Feeding 9 Billion on a Hot and Hungry Planet.

The Guardian (Oct 24, 2013). The Power of Procurement.

The Guardian (Oct. 3, 2013). Vineyards Take Action As Climate Change Threatens Wines and Livelihoods.

The Guardian (Aug. 6, 2013). Texas Turning Substandard Cotton into Eco-friendly Products.

The Guardian (July 30, 2013). What Can Madagascar Teach Us About Rice and Water?

E360 (July 29, 2013). Facing Tough Market, Coal Gian Peabody Energy Pushes Overseas.

The Guardian (June 24, 2013). How Engineered Wetlands in Saudi Arabia Can Save Water and Money.

Slate Magazine (May 28, 2013). What are Extreme Runners Thinking?

Scientific American (March 6, 2013). Melting Arctic Ice Will Make Way for More Ships—and More Species Invasions.

The New York Times (March 1, 2013). The Angry Economist.

The New York Times (Feb. 15, 2013). Floating Islands to the Rescue.

The New York Times (Feb. 7, 2013). A Climate Proposal: Bundling Consumer Buying Power.

Ensia (January 27, 2013). Artificial Islands Mimic Nature’s Way of Cleansing Water.

Slate Magazine (Nov. 13, 2012). Where is All the Coal?

Slate Magazine (Nov. 12, 2012). Why Does Old King Coal Still Rule?

Slate Magazine (Oct. 29, 2012). Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change.

Slate Magazine (Oct. 29, 2012). Hurricane Sandy a Hybrid Storm.

Scientific American (May 22, 2012). Digging into Climate Change, U.S. Students Find More Than Science.

Scientific American (May 21, 2012). Climate Education Graduates to the Next Level.

Slate Magazine (May 10, 2011). Ice Flows.

Scientific American (Dec. 28, 2010). Behavior Frontiers: Can Social Science Combat Climate Change?

Scientific American (Dec. 18, 2009). Eyes Wide Shut: Earth’s Vital Signs Soon to Go Unmeasured as Satellites Fail.

Popular Mechanics (Oct. 1, 2009). 3-D Laser Imaging Helps Restore a 19th Century Firehouse

FORTUNE (Sept. 12, 2007). A Better Prenatal Test?

Yankee Magazine (July 24, 2007. ). David Haskell: Green Giant in Massachusetts.

FORTUNE (July 27, 2007). An E-Z Pass for Emissions Tests.

Boston Sunday Globe (Oct. 16, 2005). Mathematics Made Fun.  

Climate Connections is an online news website and a nationally syndicated public radio show aired twice daily on over 220 stations in North America and is a podcast. I was a regular contributor for articles and audio 2009-2016. See selected audio programs and links to transcripts below.

Climate Connections (Mar. 24, 2017). Botanical Garden Sees Volatile Weather.

Climate Connections (July 25, 2016). Calculate Your ‘Beyond Water” Water Consumption.

Climate Connections (June 24, 2016). Christian Values and Climate Change.

Climate Connections (May 27, 2016). The Climate Benefits of Healthy Forests.

Climate Connections (April 12, 2016). Helping Bees as the Climate Changes.

Climate Connections (April 8, 2016). A Better Way to Manage Reservoir Levels.

Climate Connections (March 30, 2016). Even a Single Tree Makes a Difference.

Climate Connections (March 23, 2016). Protecting Kids on Playgrounds in a Warming Climate.

Climate Connections (March 21, 2016). Self-Transportation in a Changing Climate.

Climate Connections (March 16, 2016). Shade Trees Help Save Energy.

Climate Connections (Dec. 23, 2015). Solar Momentum in North Carolina.

Climate Connections (Dec. 1, 2015). The Co-Benefits of Climate Action.

Climate Connections (Nov. 27, 2015) Seeds of Change.

Climate Connections (Nov. 24, 2015). Climate Change Citizen Scientists.

Climate Connections (Nov. 4, 2015) Community Net Metering.

Climate Connections (Oct. 23, 2015. New Climate Adaptation Professionals.

Climate Connections (Sept. 28, 2015). Preventing Washouts on Vermont Roads.

Climate Connections (Aug. 3, 2015). Climate Change and Children’s Health.

Climate Connections (July 30, 2015). Asthma and Global Warming.

Climate Connections (July 15, 2015). A Diet for a Warmer Planet.

Climate Connections (July 10, 2015). More Resilient Farming in a Changing Climate.

Climate Connections (July 2, 2015). Improving Irrigation Efficiency.

Climate Connections (June 10, 2015). Ocean Acidification Poses Risks to Coastal Economies.

Climate Connections (April 20, 2015). Help From Ancient Grains in a Warmer Climate.

Climate Connections (May 26, 2015). Iowa Farming Clean Energy.

Climate Connections (March 24, 2015). A Tougher and Cleaner Ford Truck.

Climate Connections (Feb. 24, 2015). How to Make Aspen Climate Resilient.

Climate Connections (Feb. 6, 2015). Affordable Housing and Sustainability.

Climate Connections (Jan. 12, 2015). Military Experts Weighing Impacts on Mighty Mississippi River.

Editor, Climate Finance Works. 2011. The Center for Clean Air Policy-Europe.