‘Hard facts’ conference rounds off fantastic year of collaboration with Swedish university

On 30th November 2017, Catharine Ward Thompson will give a keynote lecture on greenspace, health and quality of life as part of the ‘Hard facts about soft values’ conference in Stockholm.

Organised by the Movium network at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the conference is primarily aimed at policymakers and civil servants at a range of levels, from local to national and international.

The event rounds off a great year for our relationship with SLU, where Catharine received an Honorary Doctorate in October, gave a public lecture which was streamed live online, and was interviewed by Arkitekten journal.

SLU have said “Catharine’s publications on green environments are used extensively in SLU’s landscape education and have also had a big impact in practice. Her research is an inspiration and knowledge base for our own research on the importance of green environments for health and wellbeing, and she is a long-term collaborator with SLU researchers, for example in co-authored publications and in postgraduate education.”

> Watch Catharine’s Honorary Doctorate public lecture online 

Catharine receiving her Honorary Doctorate.

Catharine receiving her bespoke Honorary Doctorate’s hat at SLU. The moment was marked by a ceremonial trumpet flourish! Image © Jenny Svennås-Gillner/SLU

This year is a particularly special one for SLU, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

It is fitting, then, that 2017 has also seen the announcement of the Stockholm Declaration on Sustaining Resilient and Healthy Communities at the 10th European Public Health Conference which took place in the Swedish capital earlier this month.

Speaking at the conference alongside Kevin Lafferty of Forestry Commission Scotland and George Morris, formerly of NHS Health Scotland, Catharine again outlined the links between greenspace, health, wellbeing and resilience in a workshop on Public Landscapes for Public Health.

This was an excellent opportunity to share emerging findings from our research on Woods In and Around Towns, as well as to showcase the development of Scotland’s Natural Health Service – an example of innovative collaboration between the environment and health sectors in Scotland.

Find out more about Scotland’s Natural Health Service

It’s not just one way traffic! This month, OPENspace is delighted to have hosted a group of urban planners from Sweden awarded a grant from the Swedish Association of Transportation Planners to study the walkability of Edinburgh.

The group were particularly keen to know more about the Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP) project, which looked at older people’s mobility outdoors and its impact on health and wellbeing.

In findings we’ve shared through a short animation, MMP has found that older people walking between different types of urban environments show changes in their emotional response to place based on brain activity patterns. Green spaces seem to be restorative, offering a respite from the tiring demands that busy urban places make on our directed attention.

Reinforcing what we have found in earlier work, such as Inclusive Design for Going Outdoors (I’DGO), we have found that, when it comes to walkability, the mundane matters and the commonplace counts! Everyday things, such as pavement quality, benches and street lighting, can make all the difference as we get older.

> Watch our short animation on Mobility, Mood and Place