The Green, the Grey, and the Human
Integrating Grey and Green Infrastructure to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Urban Populations
One of the most enduring lessons of cities is the important relationship between grey infrastructure (e.g., streets and buildings), green infrastructure (e.g., parks and open spaces), and the human communities that inhabit them. Community gardens provide a clear example of how grey and green infrastructure together can improve the health and well being of urban populations. Throughout the history of cities, a wide range of people and organizations have competed over urban land as a scarce resource. Historically, grey infrastructure has often competed with or been at odds with green infrastructure, instead of the two being considered mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, a variety of human innovations—from individual actions to organizational networks to new forms of governance—have emerged in this green-grey context.
This research uses a systems framework to explore and highlight critical relationships between green, grey, and human elements of cities and how they are connected with health and well-being. Furthermore, we investigate the multiple meanings and values of urban spaces, seeking a greater awareness of how the ordinary becomes sacred. By understanding the underlying structure of urban spaces and the importance of social interactions, urban planners, decision makers, and community members can effectively leverage resources to improve overall health, advance well-being and ensure social justice.
Affiliated scientists and staff
- Mary Northridge, Ph.D., NYU College of Dentistry
- Sara Metcalf, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
- Erika Svendsen, Ph.D., NRS
- Lindsay Campbell, NRS
- Gillian Baine, NYC Urban Field Station
Related publications and presentations
- “Cultivating Health and Well-Being through Environmental Stewardship,” an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health by NRS Scientist Erika Svendsen.
- Svendsen, Erika; Northridge, Mary E.; and Metcalf, Sara S. (2012) "Integrating Grey and Green Infrastructure to Improve the Health and Well-being of Urban Populations," Cities and the Environment (CATE): Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 3.
- Northridge, ME, and Mark, Janet (2013) “Protecting Public Places,” American Journal of Public Health: published online ahead of print May, 16, 2013.
- “Integrating Grey and Green Infrastructure to Improve the Health and Well-being of Urban Populations,” a keynote address at the ACGA Conference, New York, NY, August 19, 2011. Presented by Mary Northridge and Erika Svendsen. (7 mb)
- “Landscapes of Resilience,” a presentation at the PopTech City Resilient Conference, Brooklyn, NY, June 24, 2013. Presented by Erika Svendsen and Lindsay Campbell. (2 mb)
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