“Ecology” is another one of those words that I’ve hearing more and more, used in ways that you might not immediately associate with the field of ecology. The “ecology of innovation” for example, is a term that describes the actors, interactions, and environmental conditions necessary to foster the propagation of innovative ideas. Relating to the field of urban planning, I’ve come across three main aspects of urban ecology: the quantitative/modeling studies, the sociological and historical conceptual frameworks, and the urban ecological design principals. These three aspects make up the “ecology” of urban ecology because they influence and interact with each other, are evolving, and exist within a broader context which shapes them all.
The plight of Detroit, which has been prominently covered both in the media and in urban planning circles, may be an extreme example of urban decay, with its reported (albeit now falling) 25% vacancy rate and startlingly eerie images, but it is hardly a unique phenomenon. Legacy cities, those once prosperous centers of industry and culture are now struggling to survive in a new knowledge-based economy. So what does green infrastructure have to do with this conversation? It’s all about a changing concept of resiliency.