The Social Benefits of Green Spaces (#3 Changes a Whole Community)

Last month, we discussed the overall importance of incorporating green spaces into your landscape architecture. This month, we’re diving even deeper into the topic, to talk about the social benefits of green spaces!  

Keep reading to learn about three major ways green spaces contribute to healthy community connection. 

#1 Green Spaces Invite Us to Gather

people being social in green spaces

Our technological world increasingly encourages us to disconnect from nature and one another. Beautiful green spaces do the opposite! They welcome neighbors to share in a spring picnic, parents to engage in nature learning with their children, and fitness seekers to walk or jog amongst the trees with a friend. 

Humans are meant to connect face to face, and when we do so, we see the positive outcomes in our communities. According to an article by Build Healthy Places Network, “An increasing body of evidence shows that the time people spend in urban green spaces promotes human connection, thereby enriching how we perceive the value of these spaces and each other.” And when we value something, we take better care of it. 

So you see, having an easy and inviting place to meet up with friends, coworkers, and neighbors doesn’t just accommodate our own social needs, it also improves our perspective of others and our community on the whole. And that is sure to result in a more engaged, proactive, and supportive atmosphere for all. Green spaces can be a social boon for entire cities! 

#2 Green Spaces Add Social Opportunities to Everyday Tasks

kids playing in green spaces 

Another way green spaces provide social benefits is through the unexpected moments they facilitate. 

Let’s say you live a mile from your favorite local grocery store. Since you’re so close, you like to walk there—we love that! But on your way back, you might need a break, especially if you’re carrying all of those grocery bags (pro tip: consider a collapsible folding wagon to roll your haul along). This is where a nice little green space—perhaps a small park or a fountain with a few benches and lush grass—comes in handy. 

As you take your rest, maybe you’ll run into a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You might discover how you both love that particular grocer. Or maybe you brought your child, and they recognize a schoolmate. An impromptu five-minute playdate can make a little one’s day! 

You’ll likely find it makes your day, too. When we connect with others, it gives us a chance to escape the daily hustle and bustle. In the scenario we’ve envisioned here, you might feel rushed to grab groceries, cook dinner, do the child’s homework, etc. But we wouldn’t want to be rude and turn away from an interaction with a friend or neighbor we’ve spotted. So we pause the everyday task we’re in the midst of and chat. Before we know it, we’re engrossed in a lovely conversation, and by the time we say our goodbyes, we’re feeling refreshed, reenergized, and yes, happy. Harvard Medical School backs it up! 

As Robert Waldinger said in his TED Talk discussing an 80-plus-year-long, ongoing study of adult development by the institution, “Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, and the loners often died earlier.”

Human connection is directly connected to human health, fulfillment, and joy. 

#3 Green Spaces Build Equity

social equity benefits in green spaces

When we consider equity in all we do, we make greater strides toward fair, justice, and fruitful environments. And green spaces can help your landscape be a part of that! 

This article from World Resources Institute puts it best: “Low-income residents are more likely to live in hotter neighborhoods and be exposed to higher levels of air pollution than those living in more affluent areas. They are also more likely to suffer the health impacts of heat waves and the effects of stormwater flooding than their counterparts in richer, greener neighborhoods.” 

We’re going to talk in more detail about the health benefits of green spaces in a future blog post. But this information is crucial to understanding social benefits, too. 

When we feel healthier and safer, we are able to fully embrace and enjoy socialization. And as we’ve noted in our previous section, that is really important! 

As more and more commercial spaces, city neighborhoods, and master-planned communities incorporate thoughtfully designed green spaces into their landscape architecture, our world on the whole becomes a place of greater inclusivity. This brings positive experiences—good for physical, emotional, and mental health—to people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. Having a brighter outlook on your public places and surroundings translates to a sense of value in where you live. That in turn inspires optimism and empowerment. Everyone deserves to spend time healing in nature; it makes us better people. 

Social equity is an admirable goal, and widening access to nature through green spaces is a key action point in the mission. 

In fact, as we’ve learned, green spaces offer up many social benefits. Add them to your landscape architecture, and watch your community gather, take respite, and grow closer and more collaborative. 

 

To learn more about how Jerry Pate Design could help you achieve such an impactful space, get in touch

Steve Dana
Steve Dana
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