Meet the Author:
Ryan McPherson,  Buffalo

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Ryan McPherson

Ryan McPherson

In September of 2011, Mr. McPherson was named the University at Buffalo’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. In his role as the CSO, Ryan connects people across the university with information, innovation, and tools to reduce UB’s footprint on the future and enhance quality of life by improving environmental stewardship, increasing economic efficiency and augmenting cultural values and awareness. He specifically works closely with university partners and employs an integrated campus-wide strategy that leverages the university’s operations, curriculum, external engagement and research to further UB’s sustainability efforts. Over the past five years these efforts have resulted in the university being recognized by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership as the top green power user, the US Green Building Council for the best community collaboration, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s winning proposal under the Reforming the Energy Vision Campus Challenge and the Association for the Advancement in Sustainability STARS gold status. Prior to taking on this new role, Ryan was the Associate Vice President for Government & Community Relations where he successfully led a multi-year New York State effort that resulted in the enactment of the most comprehensive higher education legislation in a generation. Before leading the university’s advocacy efforts, Mr. McPherson was the Chief of Staff for the External Affairs Division and was responsible for day-to-day operational leadership. In addition, he also played a pivotal role in creating the President’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, the university's Climate Action Plan and driving a university wide approach to sustainability. Ryan is also very active in the community and played a key founding role in establishing the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable and the Western New York Environmental Alliance. In addition to occupying board seats at these organizations, he is also a trustee of the Western and Central New York Nature Conservancy, and a board member of the New York Coalition for Sustainability in Higher Education, GoBike Buffalo, other local organizations and a member of numerous university wide committees. Previous to joining UB, Ryan worked in Washington, DC and New Hampshire advocating for greater environmental protection and democratic participation. Mr. McPherson received his B.A. in political science from the University of New Hampshire and graduated magna cum laude from the University at Buffalo Law School with a concentration in environmental law. Ryan enjoys endurance running and cycling, hiking any mountain he can find and coaching youth hockey and soccer. He and his wife Alexandra have a 14-year-old daughter and a 11-year-old son and live on their farm in East Aurora, NY where they work to instill a love of nature and all things biophilia.

April, 2021

9 April 2021

Is Cali the City with the Most Birds in the World?
Rubén Darío Palacio, Durham

The city of Cali in southwestern Colombia boasts a staggering number of 562 species of birds, and it probably has the longest bird list for any city in the world. But can we find out for sure? Birds are the link between the urban and the wild. A bird-friendly city can harbor...

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5 April 2021

About the Festival
Karen Tsugawa

TNOC Festival pushed boundaries to radically imagine our cities for the future. A virtual festival that covered 5 days with programming across all regional time zones and provided in multiple languages: 22-26 February 2021, 2200 participants from 72 countries. Outputs and new emerging projects will appear in this space soon....

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March, 2021

24 March 2021

Putting Nature First: Driving Actions for Nature in Cities
Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne Cathy Oke, Melbourne Judy Bush, Melbourne Sarah Bekessy, Melbourne James Fitzsimons, Melbourne Georgia Garrard, Melbourne Maree Grenfell, Melbourne Martin Hartigan, Melbourne

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how important urban nature is for our physical and mental health. As urban strategists embark on ideas and think of pathways for recovery and “building back better” our societies and especially cities, it is paramount that the green recovery include nature in the mix of options...

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20 March 2021

Vegetation is the Future of Architecture
Gary Grant, London

Most of the inhabitable regions of the Earth were originally covered by forests, grasslands, and wetlands. These carbon-grabbing, biodiverse, spongy landscapes have been largely replaced by agriculture and urban development, which is drier, belches carbon, is erosive of soils, and which has lost most of its wildlife. Indeed, biodiversity declines...

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12 March 2021

Knowledge Systems for Urban Renewal
Chris Ives, Nottingham

“Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for us: ‘What shall we do and how shall we live?’ ” — Leo Tolstoy  We know that our cities need to look and function differently. There is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that urbanisation...

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7 March 2021

Including Diverse Voices in Adaptation Planning
Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Timon McPhearson, New York Huda Shaka, Jeddah Marion Lacourt, Paris Frida Larios, Antiguo Cuzcatlán, Copán, and Washington

This contribution is the result of a thought-collecting Seed Session during the TNOC Summit in Paris, held on June 5, 2019. Pitches, group breakouts, and a facilitated discussion addressed the question: Including diverse voices in adaptation planning, how do we make it happen? Two illustrators, Frida Larios and Marion Lacourt,...

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2 March 2021

Making Spaces for Edible Gardens in Compact Cities: the Taipei Case
Wan-Yu Shih, Taipei Che-Wei Liu, Taipei

Edible urban gardens have gained increasing popularity in the Global North within the narrative of nature-based solutions for cities and as parts of urban green infrastructure, which reintroduce greenspaces and associated functions into built environments, with the aspiration of leading to a socially and ecologically more sustainable city. Amid the...

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January, 2021

31 January 2021

Stories of the Nature of Cities 1/2 Hour—Episode 4: Oasis
David Maddox, New York

Episode 4: Oasis “Happy Hour at the Green Man” by Kate Wing, read by Lucy Symons A small bar in the middle of the city has a portal to an ancient ghost forest.  “Where Grass Grows Greener” by Jenni Juvonen, read by Nora Achrati The narrator explores a forest and meets a...

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31 January 2021

Green Recovery’s Missing Piece: Engagement with Future World Leaders!
Vishisht Singhal, Delhi

This essay advocates for a unique “Youth Empowerment Based Green Recovery Programme” to be developed and adapted by governments to enhance long-term societal resilience. As we have collectively moved towards unlocking the lockdowns and quarantines that had been in effect since March 2020, the world’s attention has been gripped in...

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23 January 2021

Highlights from The Nature of Cities 2020
David Maddox, New York

Today’s post celebrates some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2020. These contributions—originating around the world—were one or more of widely read, offering novel points of view, and/or somehow disruptive in a useful way. All 1000+ TNOC essays and roundtables are worthwhile reads, of course, but what follows will give you a...

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18 January 2021

The LEAF: Episode 4. Show and Tells from Urban Arts Collective Members
Bibi Calderaro, New York Nicolas Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo, New York Ursula Heise, Los Angeles

Explore with us diverse and connecting threads in urban ecological arts. In the LEAF, three FRIEC Urban Arts Collective members share something from their ideas and work for 10 minutes each, followed by Q&A. Theme: Stories that have not been told. Presenters: Bibi Calderaro, New York Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful...

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13 January 2021

Building Practitioner Networks to Better Support Kenyan Frontline Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis: Some Learnings and Reflections
Shillah Mwaniga, Nairobi Gitonga Isaiah, Maynooth Manasi Kumar, Nairobi

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates and the prevalence escalates, global health care systems become overwhelmed with patients who are either confirmed or suspected to be suffering from the disease (Chen et al., 2020). Frontline health care workers (HCWs) are required to work for long and irregular hours, with heavy workloads...

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8 January 2021

Antiracist Environmental Leadership in a Virtual World
Cindy Thomashow, Seattle

Our graduate students are figuring out how to best “immerse” themselves in city spaces while staying safe during the pandemic. Students find creative ways to both learn and practice while masked and distanced from community members. A positive outcome of being online is the ability to invite environmental activists and...

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3 January 2021

On Privilege as Choice
Hita Unnikrishnan, Sheffield

Two incidents stand out particularly from my memories as a young child. In the first one, I was perhaps 5 or 6 years old—at that age when we ran out of the housing colony and into the streets to play a game of hopscotch or whatever else took our fancy....

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December, 2020

22 December 2020

What is One Tree Worth?
Carly Ziter, Montreal

Writing this during National Forest Week here in Canada, I’m reflecting (as I frequently do) on the urban forest. As a scientist, I often find myself collapsing the beautiful, multidimensional, urban forest into a few general measurements: stand density, canopy cover, biomass, etc. But as an urban resident, I cherish...

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20 December 2020

Quarantine Fatigue and the Power of Activating Public Lands as Social Infrastructure
Lindsay Campbell, New York Erika Svendsen, New York Laura Landau, New York Michelle Johnson, New York City Sophie Plitt, New York

This essay is part three in a series. Since 13 March 2020, our team of social science researchers has been keeping a collective journal of our experiences of our New York City neighborhoods and public spaces during COVID-19. Read the essays from spring and summer here. 1. Winter is coming:...

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14 December 2020

The Hills Save Us
Diana Wiesner, Bogota

En español. Citizenship is derived from city, and floristry from forest or jungle. Forest and human being live a socio-ecological pact in which the forest becomes a new citizen respected in its integrity, stability, and extraordinary beauty. Both benefits, as the utilitarian logic of exploitation is abandoned and the logic...

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9 December 2020

The LEAF Episode 3: Show and Tells from TNOC Urban Ecological Arts Collective Members
Tim Collins, Glasgow Robin Lasser, Oakland Wendy Wischer, Salt Lake City

Want to explore diverse and connecting threads in urban ecological arts? In the LEAF, three FRIEC Urban Arts Collective members share something from their ideas and work for 10 minutes each, followed by Q&A. Presenters: Tim Collins, Glasgow Robin Lasser, Oakland Wendy Wischer, Salt Lake City Wednesday 16 December, 9amPST / 12pmEST /...

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8 December 2020

Opportunity in Crisis: Ecojustice Education for Pandemic Resilience 
Scott Kellogg, Albany

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was widespread concern and uncertainty. How many people would get sick? How long would this last? Will I lose my home, my job? Will there be food shortages? There were also widespread shutdowns—schools, offices, restaurants, libraries, even the police were only responding to...

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4 December 2020

Ecosystems as a Framework for Urban Planning: Reconnecting. Rediscovering. Reinvigorating.
Jennifer Dowdell, Baltimore

If we peel back the layers of our urban infrastructure and examine the ecological patterns that originally formed the landscapes beneath our feet, we can shape more resilient cities through an interdisciplinary and inclusive urban design process based on the braided narratives of place: ecology, history, and culture. More than...

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