Living on the West Coast has certainly been an adventure, alluring in so many ways. It’s hard to imagine after growing up in Calgary, Alberta and spending many years in Central Alberta that I would end up living off-grid on Galiano Island in beautiful British Columbia. The locals call it the “Gem of the Gulf Islands.”
Prior to relocating to Galiano I’d spent 7 years living, working and playing in the Greater Victoria, BC area. Let’s just say that while I enjoyed it immensely it was time for a change. After the move I warmed up to the idea of free diving in these local waters and it’s given me a new perspective on the way we look at our built environments.
For anyone that dives or indulges in cold water swimming in the ocean you know the risks. It’s all about safety and knowing your environment. As someone who has dedicated more than two decades to improving our public space using Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) I’ve come to understand its limitations, especially when it’s not used properly or by those with little practical experience. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!
With a brand new year upon us I’ve already begun some deep dives into a few areas that hold great promise for continuing to improve our built environments – both urban and rural.
I’ll begin by building on what several colleagues know is true – we must consider the linkages between community safety and our well-being. Our health and safety must remain paramount. I’m currently exploring the world of healing spaces. Esther Sternberg, an M.D. wrote a book titled “Healing Spaces – The Science of Place and Well-Being. It’s been difficult to put down since I purchased it, and it’s well worth adding to your library. In the very first chapter, Sternberg asks several critical questions including:
Can the spaces around us help us to heal?
Can we design places so as to enhance their healing properties?
Sternberg adds that “if we ignore the qualities of physical context, could we inadvertently slow the healing process and make illness worse?
Wow! Let’s now consider one of our greatest challenges around our built environment as it relates to our homeless, and those struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Too many of our most vulnerable people continue to live or die on our streets. In many cities across the country it’s difficult enough finding a public washroom never mind a comfortable place to land for a few hours of rest. And yet, we’ll spend millions on fortifying (AKA Target Hardening) our properties and protecting our assets.
Again, as Sternberg asks “if we ignore the qualities of physical context, could we inadvertently slow the healing process and make illness worse?
To learn more about Esther Sternberg check out her TEDx Talk on this subject.
For anyone that has been following our work over the years you’ll know that our collaborative is built upon a diverse number of passionate professionals that are truly dedicated to their craft. Yes, we really are all about People ~ Place ~ Connection. If you don’t know who we are and what drives us it’s time to find out more or simply ask how we can help you, your organization or community.
Have a Safe and Healthy 2023