Meet the Author:
Sheila Foster,  Washington, DC

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Sheila Foster

Sheila Foster

Sheila R. Foster is a Professor of Law and Public Policy (joint appointment with McCourt School of Public Policy) at Georgetown University. She joined Georgetown after many years at Fordham University where she was University Professor and Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law. At Fordham, she also was the Co-Director of the Fordham Urban Law Center and founder of the university-wide Fordham Urban Consortium. She served as Associate Dean and then Vice Dean of Fordham Law School from 2008-2014. Prior to joining Fordham, she was a Professor of Law at the Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. Professor Foster is the author of numerous books, book chapters, and law journal articles on property, land use, environmental law, and antidiscrimination law. Much of her early work was dedicated to exploring the intersection of civil rights and environmental law, in a field called “environmental justice.” She is the coauthor (with Luke Cole) of one of the field’s leading texts, From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (N.Y.U. Press), and coeditor of the 2nd edition of The Law of Environmental Justice (with Michael Gerrard 2008). Over the last two decades, she has worked with state, federal and local agencies on environmental policy. Professor Foster serves on the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) investigating the relationship between climate change and inequality at the neighborhood level. Her most recent work explores the emerging concept of the “urban commons” and related property, land use and urban governance issues at the local and metropolitan level. Here work in this area includes The City as a Commons (Yale Journal of Law and Policy 2016) (with Christian Iaione) and Collective Action and the Urban Commons (Notre Dame Law Review 2011), which was voted one of the 5 best (out of 100) articles on land use published that year. Professor Foster is also the coauthor (with David Oppenheimer and Sora Han) of a groundbreaking casebook, Comparative Equality and Antidiscrimination Law: Cases, Codes, Constitutions and Commentary (Foundation Press). This casebook examines the development of laws around the world grappling with social inequality based on human differences. She has taught and conducted research internationally in Africa, Switzerland, Italy, France, England, Austria, Colombia, Panama, and Cuba. Professor Foster received her B.A. in English, with honors, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and her J.D. in from Berkeley Law at the University of California. After law school, she was an attorney with Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco.

January, 2021

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.   Presenters: Bibi Calderaro, New York Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo, New York Ursula Heise, Los...

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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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1 December 2020

A Pattern Language for Urban Nature
Paul Downton, Melbourne

1 We are part of nature We are part of nature and we are interdependent with nature.   2 We think we can be separate from nature We cannot escape this interdependency. Even when we try, we are tied to living systems by umbilical cords of technology, constrained by natural...

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November, 2020

22 November 2020

Why Would the Economy Need Biodiversity?
Nadezhda Kiyatkina, Moscow

And What Grassplots, Amur Leopard, and Mold Have in CommonWhat is biodiversity for? Some don’t need that question answered: you just adopt a philosopher’s perspective, and everything becomes clear—all living things have the right to dwell on the planet. For others, the question is confusing. Those trying to find a quantitative answer to...

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21 November 2020

The Challenges for Innovating in Green and Blue Infrastructure: The Case of an Innovative Drainage Approach in Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Jose Puppim, São Paulo Carlos Rigolo, São Paulo Leon Rangel, São Paulo

Green and blue infrastructure (GBI), a form of nature-based solutions (NBS), can provide huge benefits for cities, as GBIs are innovative ways to connect biodiversity and people. Besides the direct functions that the infrastructure provides (e.g. flood prevention or cooling effect), there is also a series of co-benefits that nature...

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20 November 2020

We Need an Ethical Code for Water
Gloria Aponte, Medellín Katherine Berthon, Melbourne Carmen Bouyer, Paris Paul Currie, Cape Town PK Das, Mumbai Meredith Dobbie, Victoria Casey Furlong, Melbourne Andrew Grant, Bath Gary Grant, London Juliana Landolfi de Carvalho, Curitiba Tom Liptan, Portland Sareh Moosavi, Brussels Harini Nagendra, Bangalore Diane Pataki, Salt Lake City André Stephan, Brussels Peter Schoonmaker, Portland Naomi Tsur, Jerusalem Mario Yanez, Lisbon

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18 November 2020

Stories of the Nature of Cities 1/2 Hour. Episode 3—Generations of Climate Change
Ari Honarvar, San Diego Michael Harris Cohen, Sofia Laura Shillington, Montreal

Episode 3: Generations of Climate Change “A Child of the Oasis” by Ari Honavar, read by Nora AchratiA mother and daughter meet an undocumented refugee on their annual ride to the father’s Remembrance Wall. “Not Icarus” by Michael Harris Cohen, read by Dori LeggA grandmother defies social law by killing birds...

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17 November 2020

Nairobi’s Rapidly Expanding Transport Network is Costing its Ecological Lifeline
Kevin Lunzalu, Nairobi

Since 2013, the government of Kenya has laid out extensive expansion plans for the city’s transport infrastructure. Nairobi County’s strategy lays out a progressive framework that has seen the introduction of Mass Rapid Transit Systems (MRTS), the standard gauge railway, connectors, and the expansion of several other feeder roads. The...

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14 November 2020

The LEAF Episode 2: Show and Tells from FRIEC Collective Artists
Christina Freeman, New York Lucie Lederhendler, Montreal Paula Nishijima, Diemen

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: Christina Freeman, New York Lucie Lederhendler, Montreal Paula Nishijima, Amsterdam 18 November  To watch the recording:...

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9 November 2020

Inappropriate Infrastructure Can Make Green Spaces Unlivable
Ana Faggi, Buenos Aires Jose Luis Hryckovian, Buenos Aires

The urban matrix is dominated by the built environment that undoubtedly predominates over green infrastructures like domestic gardens, woodlands, tree-lined streets, squares, sports fields, and green corridors. Thus, cities must be seen as a complex system where the interacting gray, green, and blue elements cannot be analyzed individually. Proper handling...

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3 November 2020

What Can Policymakers Do to Enhance Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Cities?
Rodrigo Bellezoni, São Paulo Fanxin Meng, New Haven

Cities are almost entirely dependent on surrounding regions for food, water, and energy (FWE) to sustain urban population and activities. Sixty percent of the global population will live in cities by 2030, with 90% of urban growth in the coming decades likely to occur in low- and middle-income countries. Rising...

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October, 2020

26 October 2020

What I Know Now: The Need for “Good Trouble” to Build an Anti-Racist Science of Ecology
Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie

A meditation on race and ecology on the occasion of the death of U.S. Representative John Lewis.Representative John R. Lewis (1940-2020) was a hero of the civil rights movement in the United States. He was one of the six leaders of the famous 1963 March On Washington, a leader of...

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