The Value of Green in Gray

Written by  Katie Martens, Volunteer Writer
Photograph by Aurora Photos

What is green space? Its generic definition is an area of grass, trees, or other vegetation set apart for recreational or aesthetic purposes in an otherwise urban environment. Usually these spaces are public and used for community purposes. Green space is a social, political, economic, and cultural topic of interest. It crosses barriers within city life, allowing community to flourish and develop. The city government develops and maintains green space, neighborhood activists use green space for exercising their rights, families use green space for community connections, and wildlife uses green space as their habitat. Green space has multiple functions for various organizations, people and animals. It is a valuable asset and resource to the city, its people and wildlife. I’m sure that economically, green space could be evaluated and translated to have a numerical value.

Politically, organizations and governments could create lists and arguments focused on green space’s value in abstract and intangible terms. Biologists could organize hard data that expresses green spaces importance and function for wildlife. While these are great and important resources, I will provide a short piece on green spaces’ value in my life.

Nature is the most eccentric and beautiful thing that I have ever seen in my 22 years on this planet. It is dynamic and interactive. It encourages self-reflection, self-care and self-awareness. In no other space can a human tangibly experience being part of something larger than themselves whilst simultaneously experience their innate solitude. Green space is an opportunity to experience a beautiful escape of city life. It’s the cheapest and most convenient form of meditation and therapy.

Green space is essential to my life; it has influenced my entire Seattle experience – where I decided to live, where I wanted to work, how I relax, and where I explore with friends and family. For me, its value is incalculable and thus, has become a personal necessity. I can find green space in the city simply by actually observing what is around me. The streets are lined with gorgeous colors of autumn changes, the grass on lawns has an increasing vibrancy, there is an against- all-odds plant peaking out of my gutter, I walked 3 feet away from a crow in a park and we were both okay with it, I caught up with a friend walking around Green Lake, I saw someone trip on a tree root protruding from a side walk; these are all meaningful experiences I have within green space. Green space can be as large as Golden Gardens Park and as small as the trees lining busy streets. Green space is a vital resource for city dwellers and its beauty deserves to be appreciated and utilized.

As cliché as this might be, John Muir once said “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than (s)he seeks”. So I encourage you to escape the gray and enter into the green and I promise you, it will be a valuable experience. 

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