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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume II, Wellbeing and the Environment by Elizabeth Burton, Rachel Cooper, Cary L. Cooper

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16

Wellbeing and Green Spaces in Cities

William Sullivan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.

When she felt overwhelmed like this, Bernice liked to walk to the little green space next to the public library. It was not large but did have a few trees, some grass, and a couple of benches. There was a row of shrubs that separated the space from the street. In this little sanctuary she felt as though she were a thousand miles away from the demands of her job, children, finances, and the troubles with her mother. After a while of walking or sitting among the green she felt she could face her challenges again. She so treasured these moments of restoration that when an apartment overlooking this little space became available, she moved there to be closer to it. Sometimes she would find herself at the window, looking into the green space. It was as though the little space provided a balm for her mind.

Because she'd walked to and in the little green space over a number of months, Bernice recognized many of the people who lived around it and would walk within it like she did. She would sometimes stop and chat for a moment with some of these folks. But most often, she would simply smile at them and go about her walk.

Bernice is aware of something that scientists have been investigating: the quality and characteristics of the settings we inhabit—the places in which we live, work, and play—impact our health and wellbeing. Most of us recognize that places have the capacity to threaten ...

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