Answer this one question
How did the model essay’s author change the topic of urban greenspaces from his informative essay to his stance essay?
Assignment #3: “Stance Essay” (Type of assignment)
Trevor Jones (Student name)
ENG 115- English Composition (Course name)
Professor John Smith (Professor name)
December 20, 2016 (Correct date)
The Ideal Approach to Urban Greenspaces
The city of Birmingham has some parks and wooded areas, but green infrastructure in the
downtown area is lacking. This means that many of the city’s residents don’t live in close
proximity to parks or wooded areas. Therefore, many citizens don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of interacting with nature without a great deal of effort and planning. The
question, then, becomes whether the best way for Birmingham to address this issue is by
constructing one large central park or by building multiple smaller parks. Building several small
parks would be the most effective way to increase urban greenspace in Birmingham because
multiple parks would affect a greater number of residents, would allow for flexible construction,
and would capitalize on the use of brownfields.
The benefits of greenspace in urban areas are numerous. Greenspaces have been shown to
provide direct and indirect psychological benefits to the people that experience them regularly. While greenspaces provide a venue for recreation and socializing, they also decrease emotional distress for the people who visit them (White, Alcock, Wheeler, & Depledge, 2013). Because the current global trend is a migration to urban environments, in many communities, urban greenspaces may provide the citizens’ only opportunity to interface with nature.
Additionally, greenspaces provide services that improve the quality of life in a city.
Greenspaces are beneficial to the environment in many ways, including filtering air and water and increasing the biodiversity of an area (De Sousa, 2013). They provide a cooling effect by shading heat-absorbing surfaces like asphalt with vegetation (Jesdale, Morello-Frosch, & Cushing, 2013). Whereas empty parking lots and abandoned industrial sites are eyesores and tend to be the objects of vandalism and graffiti, greenspaces improve the aesthetic of an area.
Also, residents who are proud to live in their neighborhoods tend to promote beautification
projects like community gardens and litter cleanups, further improving their communities’
quality of life.
According to the 2012 Birmingham Comprehensive Plan, however, the city had only
3.7% parkland compared to 5.6% for other cities in the low-density category (Birmingham Planning Commission, p. 5.9). Fortunately, the Birmingham Planning Commission has included the increase of greenspace in its 20-year plan, emphasizing that acreage is not as much a priority as accessibility (p. 5.9); thus, the plan states the following goal: “Every resident is within a ten minute walk of a park, greenway or other publicly accessible, usable open space” (2012, p. 5.2). Multiple initiatives are currently underway to make this happen, highlighting the importance of public/private partnerships, such as those with the Freshwater Land Trust, in the realization of these stated goals.
One reason constructing multiple small parks would be an effective approach to
Birmingham’s lack of greenspace is that these parks would be in close proximity to many of the city’s residents. Even though there are already some greenspaces in Birmingham, none are
located close to downtown, and so the people there, especially those without means of
transportation, aren’t able to take advantage of them. Those in poorer areas are especially
limited, as it has been shown that there is much more greenspace in wealthier areas than in low
income neighborhoods (Mitchell & Popham, 2008). By building multiple small parks, it can be
ensured that parks will be placed in locations that are accessible to all residents, no matter their
It is important to incorporate greenspaces into urban areas that are accessible to the
residents of those areas. To easily access greenspace, a small park should be within walking
distance for just about anyone. This would not be feasible with one large central park, but it
could be accomplished with multiple smaller ones. Although it’s possible that a larger central
park could become a downtown destination, that fact would not necessarily mean that the park
would be accessible to many residents. Instead, it would likely be more convenient to tourists—
which is beneficial in other ways.
Another reason constructing multiple small parks would be an effective approach to
Birmingham’s lack of greenspace is that the construction of these parks can be very flexible. The
parks can be constructed over the course of several years, and the locations can be based on what
plots are available and opportune. It has been shown that many inequalities exist in the
distribution of greenspaces in communities nationwide. In some cities there is as much as double
the amount of greenspace in wealthier neighborhoods compared to low-income neighborhoods.
A study performed in 2013 showed that inequality also exists in the amount of
greenspace among different ethnicities (Jesdale, Morello-Frosch, & Cushing, 2013).
Neighborhoods primarily populated by minorities displayed a lower percentage of vegetative
cover. This approach will be effective at addressing this inequality. Because of the flexibility
afforded by their size, small parks can be constructed in locations throughout Birmingham that
reflect this intention and alleviate this inequality. A large central park, on the other hand, would
not be able to capitalize on this flexibility. The possible locations for a central park would be
much more restricted, and it would not be as easy to offset the ethnic inequality evident in the
current greenspace locations.
The flexibility afforded by multiple smaller parks leads us to a third reason that
constructing such parks will address the problem of a lack of greenspace: these parks can
capitalize on the use of brownfields. For better or worse, as a result of being an industrial hub
since the late 1800s, Birmingham hosts plenty of land and industrial areas that have been
abandoned for many years. These sites are called “brownfields” and are ideal for sustainable
development (De Sousa, 2003). Greenspaces are a method of repurposing land that may not
attract additional development and are a minimal imposition on land that is already in
commercial or residential use. Many of these sites are remains from various industrial and
metropolitan booms throughout Birmingham’s history, and this plan could help solve this issue
This approach will capitalize on the use of brownfields, making it an ideal way to bring
greenspace access to the people of downtown Birmingham. The construction of a large
centralized park would likely require the acquisition of land that is already in use, so it would
potentially hinder the economy or productivity of the part of town where it is built. Building a
larger park might also create traffic issues and require additional infrastructure. Not so with
smaller parks, which would not only achieve their primary purpose of providing more
greenspace to Birmingham but would also beautify abandoned and undeveloped areas of the city.
This plan has the added benefit of increasing the biodiversity of such areas. In a time
when wilderness areas are dwindling worldwide and urban areas seem to be expanding
indefinitely, increasing biodiversity is a vital service for the world. Managing greenspaces for
increased biodiversity also provides psychological benefits. A study performed in 2007 showed
that the psychological benefits provided by greenspaces increase with increased biodiversity in
greenspaces (Bowler, Buyung-Ali, Knight, & Pullin, 2010). Creating habitats for animals and space for planting native species provides additional environmental benefits, as well as
potentially increasing the educational value of the city.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best approach to constructing
greenspace in Birmingham. One must consider how many people will be able to feasibly access
the site, how difficult it will be to offset the ethnic inequality of the current park locations, and
whether the parks will take advantage of brownfields or cut into the current economy of an area.
While the construction of one large, centralized park might benefit the neighborhood of that one
park, the flexibility of constructing multiple smaller parks makes it much easier to bring
greenspaces into the reach of more people, including ethnic minorities that are currently being
shortchanged of greenspace. These parks would not only benefit more people, they would also
improve the city’s infrastructure itself as they renovate and utilize brownfields. That is why this
approach will be the best way to bring more greenspace to Birmingham and thus make the city a
greener city with a higher quality of life.
Birmingham Planning Commission (2012). Open space, parks and recreation. Birmingham
Comprehensive Plan. Retrieved from
Bowler, D., Buyung-Ali, L., Knight, T., & Pullin, A. (2010). A systematic review for the added
benefits of health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health, 10(456).
De Sousa, C. A. (2003). Turning brownfields into green space in the city of Toronto. Landscape
and Urban Planning, 62(4), 181-198. doi:10.1016/S0169-2046(02)00149-4
Jesdale, B. M., Morello-Frosch, R., & Cushing, L. (2013). The racial/ethnic distribution of heat
risk related land cover in relation to residential segregation. Environmental Health
Perspectives, 121(7). doi:10.1289/ehp.1205919
Mitchell, R., & Popham, F. (2008). Effect of exposure to natural environment on health
inequalities: An observational population study. The Lancet 372(9650), 1655-1660.
White, M., Alcock, I., Wheeler, B., & Depledge, M. (2013). Would you be happier living in a
greener urban area? A fixed-effects analysis of panel data. Psychological Science, 24(6).