Greening Vacant Lots Reduces Depression in City Dwellers

MacDonald news

Greening vacant urban land significantly reduces feelings of depression and improves overall mental health for surrounding residents, according to findings from a randomized, controlled study conducted by Penn and other institutions, published in JAMA Network Open. The findings have implications for cities across the U.S., where 15 percent of land is deemed “vacant,” and often blighted or filled with trash and overgrown vegetation.

For the first time, the research team measured the mental health of Philadelphia residents before and after converting nearby vacant lots into green spaces, as well as residents living near abandoned lots left untreated or that received just trash clean-up. They found that people living within a quarter mile of greened lots had a 41.5 percent decrease in feelings of depression and a nearly 63 percent decrease in self-reported “poor mental health,” compared to those who lived near the lots that received no intervention.

“The lack of change in these groups is likely because the trash clean-up lots had no additional green space created,” says co-author John MacDonald, a professor of criminology and sociology. “The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments.”

Click here to read the full story.

 

Arts & Sciences News

Axilrod Term Fund in Health and Inequality Supports Recruitment of Three New Faculty Members

Richard A. Axilrod, WG’85, and Nancy M. Axilrod, parents, have made a $2 million gift to establish the Axilrod Term Fund in Health and Inequality, enabling Penn Arts and Sciences to recruit three new faculty members.

View Article >
Three-Year Grant Supports the Water Center at Penn

Thanks to a gift from Spring Point Partners LLC, the Center will have a solid foundation from which to build its research agenda.

View Article >
Lichtenstein Challenge Funds Support Arts and Sciences Scholarships and Annual Fund

Warren G. Lichtenstein, C’87, has made a $1 million gift to establish the Warren Lichtenstein Young Alumni Scholarship Challenge Fund and the Warren Lichtenstein Arts and Sciences Challenge Fund.

View Article >
Zarmakoupi Named Morris Russell and Josephine Chidsey Williams Professor of Roman Architecture

Mantha Zarmakoupi has joined Penn as the Morris Russell and Josephine Chidsey Williams Assistant Professor of Roman Architecture.

View Article >
Charles Bernstein, Donald T. Regan Professor of English, Wins 2019 Bollingen Prize for Poetry

Charles Bernstein, Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature in Penn Arts and Sciences, has been named the winner of Yale’s 2019 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

View Article >
Penn Ph.D. Student Named Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations by American Jewish Committee

Ari Gordon, a graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Penn Arts and Sciences, has been named Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations for American Jewish Committee (AJC).

View Article >