The stories that enrage and sustain us.
rage \ respite
edition 13
the stories that enrage and sustain us.
Access to green space in cities has never been just or equal, and as we face dual climate and health crises, this inaccessibility is becoming starker.

The connotation of 'leafy streets' is ubiquitous with old, wealthy suburbs in Australia. These large tree canopies provide shade, fresh air and help to cool down neighbourhoods on hot days. In contrast, outer urban and new development suburbs have some of the lowest amounts of tree coverage and green space.
Where you live determines whether or not you have access to "the lungs of the city".

For example, Adelaide is the Australian city with the worst green access disparity based on income. In the most affluent areas approximately 20% of land was made up of green space, in the least affluent areas this dropped to 12%.

In the US,
a major study across 10 metropolitan areas found that income and higher education levels are "positively and significantly associated with access to green space". That is, if you're rich and well educated, you'll have more trees and parks in your neighbourhood. There are also race divides with Latino and African-American communities having lower access to green space than white communities.

This disparity has detrimental effects on community wellbeing.

High housing density, black rooftops, no tree coverage and little green space contribute to the increasingly prevalent urban heat island effect, where heat is absorbed into pavements, roads and rooftops, and intensifies. In Australia, no where is suffering more with this than
western Sydney.

On January 4 2020, Penrith in far western Sydney was the hottest place on Earth, hitting 48.9 degrees; in 2019, Parramatta had 47 days with temperatures above 35 degrees.

As living conditions become unbearable in these regions over summer, air conditioning usage (and the bills and emissions that come with it) skyrockets. It's a vicious cycle and a reminder that the climate crisis will be, and indeed already is, unjust.

In addition to environmental consequences, studies have shown that proximity and access to green space
leads to an increase in community health. Parks and gardens promote physical activity, provide relief and a place to relax from daily stressors, and community gathering and cohesion often occurs around these areas. Green space is one of the most valuable preventative health resources we have.

As we sit in lockdown once again, we are reminded of the crucial role green space plays in our lives. We lean on it for respite. And as we approach another hot summer, we're reminded that where we live determines how we experience the climate crisis. Everyone should be able to access the benefits of green space.

With cities becoming increasingly choked by heat and pollution, groups around the world are taking action to rewild, seed bomb and cultivate land in their neighbourhoods to be cleaner and greener.

In the UK,
Dream Green are a network of guerrilla gardeners who are taking urban patches of land from grey to green. The group provide education and upskilling to people who want to transform corners of their neighbourhood from barren and abandoned, to green and thriving. Dream Green say their work benefits both people and planet - and despite the name, is totally legal if you approach it right.

Armed with pitchforks, bags of compost and established plants, Dream Green add biodiverse and regenerative plants to the existing environment, and leave weeds and existing plants in place.

In England, 11 million people are classed as living in a nature deprived area, and 1 in 8 households don't have access to a garden so Dream Green see their action as something meaningful, not something illicit. The groups are widely supported by the community when they arrive for an afternoon of planting. Ellen Miles, from Dream Green says the action they're taking is good for the minds, bodies and souls of the community, and it's good for the planet.

"Guerrilla gardening is environmental justice, it's social justice. It's people power meets flower power."
As we celebrate the first day of spring, the signs of change are everywhere. From the warm tinges in the the breeze to the longer days and the flowers blooming along the footpath. Here in Sydney, it's wild freesia season. The cemetery near our house has become a makeshift perfume stand as the smell of freesias fills the space between the gravestones. Harvesting some of these corpse-fertilised flowers has brought our home such joy over the past few weeks. If the theme of this week's edition hasn't been strong enough, I encourage you to get out there and enjoy some of your urban greenery.
This newsletter is created on the stolen lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people of the Eora nation. I pay my respects to their elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.
I'm Georgia Gibson, a freelance content strategist and writer working with impact-driven clients.
You can visit my website or follow me on Insta for more.

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Clovelly, Clovelly, NSW, 2031, Australia