Meet the Author:
Ursula Heise,  Los Angeles

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Ursula Heise

Ursula Heise

Ursula K. Heise is the Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies at the Department of English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature and the environmental humanities; environmental literature, arts, and cultures in the Americas, Western Europe, and Japan; literature and science; science fiction; and narrative theory. Her books include Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press, 2008), Nach der Natur: Das Artensterben und die moderne Kultur (After Nature: Species Extinction and Modern Culture, Suhrkamp, 2010) and Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016), which won the 2017 book prize of the British Society for Literature and Science. She held a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011 and served as President of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment the same year. She is also a co-founder of UCLA's Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS), and producer and writer of Urban Ark Los Angeles, a documentary created as a collaboration of LENS with the public television station KCET-Link (2018).

December, 2022

5 December 2022

A picture of apartment buildings with green plants on balconies and in a courtyard in front of the buildings
Urban Greening Factor Gains Momentum
Gary Grant, London

What is it? City authorities around the world are looking for policies and tools to facilitate urban greening ― in particular, the process of bringing more soil, vegetation, and water into the built environment through the development planning system. In the UK, authorities are looking at the Urban Greening Factor...

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November, 2022

26 November 2022

A picture of scuba divers sitting around a table with papers while underwater
Upside Down Nature: Musings of a Terrestrial Urban Ecologist ‘At Sea’
Pippin Anderson, Cape Town

I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of a holiday on a boat in the Maldives. I had never sailed before, and am by no means an ocean-going character (indeed I took a year of swimming lessons in anticipation of this holiday), so the whole experience of being at...

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25 November 2022

An illustration of people with their arms up walking next to a truck
Nature for All: How can we uproot structural inequity in the provision of nature and its benefits to people?
Samarth Das, Mumbai Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Joost Gerretschen, Arnhem/Gelderland Rob McDonald, Basel Praneeta Mudaliar, Mississauga Stephanie Pincetl, Los Angeles Rebecca Rutt, Copenhagen Henriette Steiner, Copenhagen Huda Shaka, Dubai Ebony Walden, Richmond María Mejía, Bogotá Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie Rebecca Bratspies, New York City

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9 November 2022

A picture of a building covered in plants
Greening Buildings and the Potential for More Biodiversity and Well-being in Switzerland
Nathalie Baumann, Zurich Anke Domschky, Zurich

Project study within the framework of the Swiss Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan Increasing building density is putting pressure on green spaces and thus on the living conditions for flora, fauna, and humans. However, the sixth IPPC report and the COVID-19 pandemic clearly show green spaces that enable recreation and the...

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2 November 2022

A circle graph of four separate sections
Eco-Urbanism and Urban Resilience Become More Critical Against a Background of a Global War
Fadi Hamdan, Athens

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated existing problems in global supply chains of two fundamental commodities, namely energy and food, which in turn are leading to soaring inflation. In response, several countries are abandoning their commitments made at the COP26 conference to reduce carbon emissions and instead going back to...

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October, 2022

24 October 2022

A picture of trees, grass, a walking path with people on it
They Didn’t Pave “Paradise”, They Ploughed It
Lincoln Garland, Bath

The Year 2007 marked the arrival of the Urban Millennium when most of the world’s population became urban for the first time in human history (UNDESA, 2009). The proportion is now at least 55% and the global urban population is predicted to increase by 2.5 billion over the next 30...

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17 October 2022

A picture of a spider in a web hanging off a window and outdoor ceiling
Urban Spiders – Fuzzy Friends or Fearsome Foes?
Timothy Bonebrake, Hong Kong

Spiders are among my favorite urban neighbors. They’re flashy, charismatic, and they’re everywhere. Spiders also evoke a range of emotions and thoughts from their human cohabitants. If you see one in your house do you squish it? Do you capture it gently and relocate it? Do you run away screaming?...

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12 October 2022

A garden with native flowers and trees
Natives in Exile—The Experience We Had Creating a Flower Garden Featuring Endemic Plant Species in the City
Nadezhda Kiyatkina, Moscow

Last year in spring, we came up with an idea of creating a flower garden that would only feature native plant species. Why is that both difficult and important? And what conclusions can we draw after a full year of watching the flower garden grow and seeing how both community...

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5 October 2022

A garden full of flowers and tall plants
Landscapes Can Talk
Ashley Jankowski, Ann Arbor Joan Nassauer, Ann Arbor

It’s July. With the windows down, drive to the corner of Hudson Street and Netherwood Avenue. Pull into the driveway lined with Marigolds and with Morning Glories climbing the mailbox. You might miss the street sign, which is regularly hidden behind Sunflowers 10 feet high, but you can’t miss the...

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September, 2022

28 September 2022

Can You Hear the Waves of Poverty?
Cha-Ly Koh, Kuala Lumpur

While the award-winning movie Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon-ho was iconic in many ways, a terrifying scene haunts me more often than others. The scene is one where the one of the central families of the movie, the Kims, rush back to their semi-basement apartment only to discover it is...

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22 September 2022

Artists and scientists that co-create regenerative projects in cities?
Yes, please. But how?

Funmi Adeniyi, Cape Town Madhur Anand, Guelph Eduardo Blanco, Senlis Lindsay Campbell, New York Paul Currie, Cape Town Edith de Guzman, Los Angeles David Haley, Walney Island Carmen Bouyer, Paris Chris Fremantle, Ayrshire, Scotland Sarah Hines, Washington Keitaro Ito, Fukutsu City Dave Kendal, Hobart Christopher Kennedy, New York Nikki Lindt, New York Patrick M. Lydon, Daejeon David Maddox, New York Daniel McCormick, San Francisco Bay Area Mary Miss, New York City Mary O’Brien, San Francisco Bay Area Marguerite Perret, Topeka Cristián Pietrapiana, New York Baixo Ribeiro, São Paulo Eric Sanderson, New York Wendy Wischer, Salt Lake City Ania Upstill, New York

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19 September 2022

A picture of a bird standing on a pile of sticks and a picture of a thicket of branches and twigs on a forest floor
How Big Is My House in the City? Animal Territory Size Inside Urban Areas
Luis Sandoval, San José

How big is your house and property? Is it smaller or larger than you want it to be? Or is it just the right size? Do your house and property give you all that you need? Do you live in a neighborhood with many neighbors or not enough? Are your...

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3 September 2022

An AI-generated picture of a desert with a bug-looking creatures and a group of people behind them standing far away from spire-like structures
Species on the Move: Assisted Migration in an Era of Rapid Change
Daniel Phillips, Lubbock

In April of 2022, the New York Times ran a viral piece on its front page entitled Trying Everything, Including Lettuce, to Save Florida’s Beloved Manatees. It details a sordid tale of Floridian Manatees — sea cows — struggling for survival amid a riverine habitat polluted by industrial effluents and...

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August, 2022

26 August 2022

A picture of a field full of trash and people standing next to it with bags
Challenges of Formal-Informal Collaboration in Lilongwe, Malawi
Andrew Hughes, Sheffield Jose Puppim, São Paulo

Informal organizational structures are commonly involved with greening efforts in cities, such as waste recycling and urban agriculture efforts. They are particularly relevant in cities of the Global South, where large percentages of the economy and labour are in the informal sector. Collaboration between the formal and informal sectors poses...

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17 August 2022

Four pictures of people talking to each other underneath trees in different areas
Committing to Diversity in the Research on People’s Perceptions of Urban Nature
Camilo Ordóñez, Melbourne Janina Kowalski, Toronto

Many cities around the world are planning to enhance urban nature. For example, many global cities have promised to plant a million trees, such as Shanghai, New York, Singapore, and Miami, and there are large tree planting initiatives in Uttar Pradesh, Ethiopia, and China, among many others. But most of...

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11 August 2022

Discovering Metropolitan Detroit’s Wild Side Through The Great Lakes Way
John Hartig, Windsor

The portion of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem stretching from southern Lake Huron through western Lake Erie is a unique urban refugium where the tapestry of life has been woven with elegance, where the music of life has been rehearsed to perfection for thousands of years, where nature’s colors are...

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5 August 2022

Several different colored boxes with ideas surrounding biodiversity protection
What Are the Cities Doing to Protect Pollinators and the Biodiversity?
Ana Pinheira, Guimarães Guilherme Sequeira Braga, Guimarães

  Biodiversity faces increasing challenges with the development of cities. Land-use change, intensive agricultural management and pesticide use, invasive alien species, diseases, climate change, and environmental pollution are threatening bees and other pollinators. Helping them to survive means ensuring food security and maintaining healthy ecosystems. Nature conservation and the improvement...

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July, 2022

24 July 2022

A large room with high arched ceilings, skylights, and a skeleton hanging from the ceiling while people stand around below
Charles Darwin and the Guy from Upstairs: A visit to the Natural History Museum
Joseph Rabie, Montreuil

At the end of November 2021, spending a few days in London, I paid a far too brief visit to the Natural History Museum. I had devoted the daylight hours to a survey of the skyscrapers burgeoning in the City’s business district and got to the museum just as the...

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10 July 2022

A sparrowhawk sitting on pavement
Then Came the Crash
Andreas Weber, Berlin

I wasn’t in a good shape when I broke the sparrowhawk’s wings. A gray sky over Berlin, a cold eastern wind. An early March day that never had properly lighted up and already started to sink back into dawn. No rain, no snow, but this dry and uncomfortable wind. I...

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June, 2022

29 June 2022

Photo Essay: Seoul and the Call of the Urban Wild
Patrick M. Lydon, Daejeon

In the most densely populated city in the developed world, people walk to work through a forest instead of driving in traffic. They take vacations on the metro, family picnics on the edge of a cliff, and routinely walk from their doorstep into a vast urban national park called Bukhansan....

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