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Mike Houck,  Portland

Cities are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure
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  • Mike Houck

    Mike Houck

    Mike Houck, Director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute (http://www.urbangreenspaces.org), has worked on local, regional, and national urban park and greenspace issues since 1980 when he founded the Urban Naturalist Program at the Audubon Society of Portland (http://www.audubonportland.org). He is co-founder of The Intertwine Alliance (http://www.theintertwine.org), which is dedicated to creating a world-class park, trail, and natural area system for the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. The Alliance is also a member of the national Metropolitan Greenspaces Alliance whose members represent Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Francisco Bay Area, and Portland metropolitan greenspace initiatives.

    January 20, 2016

    Save the environment_Bogota_2015_PhotoDavidMaddox
    Creative Place-Making—This is The Nature of Graffiti
    David Maddox, New York City
    Pippin Anderson, Cape Town
    Paul Downton, Adelaide
    Emilio Fantin, Milan
    Germán Gomez, Bogotá
    Julie Goodness, Stockholm
    Mike Houck, Portland
    Todd Lester, Säo Paulo
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul
    Patrice Milillo, Los Angeles
    Laura Shillington, Managua & Montreal

    Nature is all around us. Plants, animals, soil, air and water inhabit and animate our daily lives, whether you live in the country or in the city. We are invigorated by nature. We are inspired by its creatures, their beauty,...

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    November 10, 2015

    Encyclical banner
    Reflections on “Laudato Si, On Care For Our Common Home”
    Mike Houck, Portland

    Pope Francis, City Planner After reading Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, On Care For Our Common Home, I was moved to select references I felt relevant to efforts in Portland to integrate nature into the city and weave nature into the...

    6 Comment(s)
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    May 24, 2015

    4 Great Blue Heron  at Oaks Bottom Photo Mike HouckFEATURE
    Birds: Iconic Emissaries of Urban Nature
    Mike Houck, Portland

    Among the many lessons learned over my decades-long career in urban conservation is that iconography matters. Icons have proven to be powerful catalysts in the conservation arena, particularly in the urban context. Salmon, for example, are the quintessential representative of the...

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    April 21, 2015

    BirdsBy(copyright)JoshuaBurch
    Imaging the urban wild: Fourteen photographers and artists show and talk about their work
    Joshua Burch, London
    Emilio Fantin, Milan
    Mike Feller, New York City
    Andrés Flajszer, Barcelona
    Mike Houck, Portland
    Chris Jordan, Seattle
    Robin Lasser, Oakland
    Monika Lawrence, Bemidji
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul
    David Maddox, New York City
    Chris Payne, New York City
    Eric Sanderson, New York
    Jonathan Stenvall, Stockholm
    Benjamin Swett, New York City

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    March 19, 2015

    16 Kensingston Garden London Photo Mike Houck
    Lessons from Britain’s Urban Nature Movement
    Mike Houck, Portland

    A review of Nature in Towns and Cities, by David Goode. 2014. William Collins, New Naturalist Library. ISBN: 9780007242405. ISBN 10: 0007242409. 417 pages. The newest title in The New Naturalist Library, Nature in Towns and Cities by Dr. David...

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    November 9, 2014

    Graphic 52
    The Emerald Necklace: Metropolitan Greenspace Planning in Los Angeles and Beyond
    Will Allen, Chapel Hill
    Claire Robinson, Los Angeles
    Mike Houck, Portland

    Introduction Mike Houck Urban Greenspaces Institute In winter 2009, Houston Wilderness hosted an inaugural meeting of what would become the Metropolitan Greenspace Alliance.  Today the Alliance is a national coalition of coalitions working in ecologically, culturally, and economically diverse communities...

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    April 6, 2014

    Portland Metropolitan Greenspaces map © Mike Houck
    Collective Impact: A New Model for Regional Open Space Planning
    Mike Houck, Portland
    Mike Wetter, Portland

    Tim Beatley (2000: 224) cites Portland, Oregon as one example of progressive regional, bioregional, and metropolitan-scale greenspace planning in the country. Portland is also known for its land use planning and sustainability practices. Indeed, the city has more LEED (Leadership...

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    March 3, 2014

    Grey Infrastructure such as Portland's Combined Sewer Overflow "big pipe" (LEFT) is essential to the city's efforts to clean up the Willamette River by virtually eliminating sewer overflows, but it it is a single, purpose "out of sight,out of mind" solution with none of the additional benefits provided by green infrastructure such as Portland's Park Blocks (RIGHT) which attenuate stormwater, reduce urban heat island effect, provide migratory bird habitat and beautify downtown Portland.  RIGHT: At the other range of the size spectrum built green infrastructure like this curb extension not only protects the city's $1.44  billion investment in its Combine Sewer Overflow program by keeping stormwater out of the city's grey, piped system but also create a more aesthetic green street and contributes to traffic calming, improving quality of life in the neighborhood.
    Many believe that better information on the monetary value of ecosystem services is critical for getting cities to adopt more green infrastructure solutions to issues such as storm water management, heat island, storm surge, etc. True? What are the key knowledge gaps for convincing cities to invest in ecosystems services?
    Taylor Britt, Houston
    Nette Compton, New York City
    Thomas Elmqvist, Stockholm
    Mike Houck, Portland
    Haripriya Gundimeda, Mumbai
    Patrick Lydon, San Jose & Seoul
    Rob McInnes, London
    Timon McPhearson, New York
    Franco Montalto, Philadelphia and Venice
    Steve Whitney, Seattle

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    May 29, 2013

    Heron at Tanner Spring. Photo: Michael Abbate
    Size Doesn’t Matter—Really!
    Mike Houck, Portland

    I admit it, I’m obsessed with a small created wetland in NW Portland’s Pearl District. When it comes to urban greenspaces size is often overrated, meaning even a small created 200 x 200 foot faux wetlands can be both biologically...

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    December 15, 2012

    Figure 5 Cedar Mill Creek 2002c
    Biodiversity Planning: Finally Getting It Right in the Portland-Vancouver Metro Region
    Mike Houck, Portland

    In his book Green Urbanism Tim Beatley touted Portland, Oregon as one example of progressive regional, bioregional, and metropolitan-scale greenspace planning in the U.S.  It is true that the Portland metropolitan region is well known for its land use planning and...

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    July 3, 2012

    1 Peregrine Falcon on Bridge Photo Bob Sallinger WIDE
    Nature Nearby
    Mike Houck, Portland

    The belief that the city is an entity apart from nature and even antithetical to it has dominated the way in which the city is perceived and continues to affect how it is built. The city must be recognized as...

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