FRIEC—Forum for Radical Imagination on Environmental Cultures

Distruptive imagination for better cities

FRIEC—the Forum for Radical Imagination on Environmental Cultures—is the vehicle for arts, cultural engagement, and imagination at The Nature of Cities.

Launched at The Nature of Cities Summit in Paris (June 2019), FRIEC is an internationally active platform for nurturing humanity’s sacred cultural relationships with urban nature and place-making. We produce place-based storytelling (essays, poetry, and film), and actions (interventions, arts exhibitions, residencies, and transdiciplinary events) that inspire direct ecological actions in local landscapes and communities.

FRIEC stories unveil place-based narratives and creative actions for ecological wellness happening in cities and cultures across the world. Storytellers coming from diverse disciplines and backgrounds promote the power of the individual and communal creative spirit in relation to place, and further our collective understanding of the myriad cultural bonds that weave together our human families with each other and with nature in cities.

FRIEC actions, events, exhibitions, and residencies engage citizens, and catalyze actions to regenerate, remediate and re-vitalize the life forms, resources, and ecology of urban spaces, their hinterlands, and the wider ecological systems in which they exist. We create place-based settings with individuals and groups from diverse social, economic, and professional backgrounds.

Challenging the framework of established knowledge, our work allows new ideas for sustaining cities to be generated across disciplines, species, and ways of knowing, building a collaborative movement for livable, resilient, healthy, poetic cities and regions that work in partnership with the nature of which they are a part.

TNOC creates innovative and engaging events that explore ideas and dialogue. the images above are from TNOC Summit in Paris (June 2019).
TNOC’s public engagement in Sao Jose dos Campos (Brazil, September 2019), which gathered people to talk about and map together local sites of meaning.

FRIEC is curated by Patrick M. Lydon (Seoul & Osaka) and Carmen Bouyer (Paris)

There are recent TNOC + FRIEC events in São José dos Campos, Brazil and Osaka, Japan.

See more FRIEC-related content at TNOC below:

How is the concept of “stewardship” and “care for local environments” expressed around the world?
Nathalie Blanc,  Paris Lindsay Campbell,  New York Zorina Colasero,  Puerto Princesa City Kirk Deitschman,  Waimānalo Johan Enqvist,  Cape Town Emilio Fantin,  Milan Artur Jerzy Filip,  Warsaw Carlo Gomez,  Puerto Princesa City Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro Michelle Johnson,  New York City Kevin Lunzalu,  Nairobi Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Romina Magtanong,  Puerto Princesa City Heather McMillen,  Honolulu Ranjini Murali,  Bangalore Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore Ferus Niyomwungeri,  Kigali Ragene Palma,  Manila Beatriz RuizpalaciosHuda Shaka,  Dubai Erika Svendsen,  New York Abdallah Tawfic,  Cairo Diana Wiesner,  Bogota Xin Yu,  Shenzhen

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Teleportation and the Reinvention of the World’s Cities: A 20-year Retrospective
Rob McDonald,  Washington, DC

It began, like electricity before it, as a new technology for the rich in lower Manhattan to play with. A daring startup, Helios Travel, began offering teleportation from Greenwich (Connecticut) to Wall Street for the princely sum of $10,000 a pop. Many potential customers couldn’t handle the idea of all...

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One Minute of Dance a Day, at TNOC Summit
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier,  Paris

One of the One Minute of Dance a Day project. This dance was performed on the Sorbonne campus during the TNOC Summit, outside the main auditorium venue. Beats by 3’z. There are over 700 dances, and you can search them by Paris neighborhood, site type, nature element, and more.

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The spirit of Dada welcomes you to TNOC Summit: What is the nature of the city of our dreams?
Carmen Bouyer,  Paris Lindsay Campbell,  New York Marcus Collier,  Dublin Katie Coyne,  Austin Samarth Das,  Mumbai Gillian Dick,  Glasgow Thomas Elmqvist,  Stockholm Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro Jessica Kavonic,  Cape Town Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Timon McPhearson,  New York Andrew Rudd,  New York City Chantal van Ham,  Brussels

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The Singing Air
Andreas Weber,  Berlin

“…as if refusing to be caught / In any singular vision of my eye / Or in the nets and cages of my thought, / They tower up, shatter, and madden space / With their divergences, are each alone / Swallowed from sight.”— Richard Wilbur, An Event (excerpt) In the last...

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Imagining Future Cities in an Age of Ecological Change
Ursula Heise,  Los Angeles

  The guidelines of the prompt were very simple. Stories had to be set in a city in the distant future (i.e. in or near the year 2099), be 1,000 words or less, and have as significant plot points both nature and people. With this framework The Nature of Cities launched...

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What I mean when I talk about collaboration. What is a specific experience collaborating on a project with someone from a different discipline or “way of knowing”?
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town Carmen Bouyer,  Paris Lindsay Campbell,  New York Gillian Dick,  Glasgow Lonny Grafman,  Arcata Eduardo Guerrero,  Bogotá Britt Gwinner,  Washington Keitaro Ito,  Fukutsu City Madhusudan Katti,  Raleigh Jessica Kavonic,  Cape Town Yvonne Lynch,  Melbourne Mary Mattingly,  Brooklyn Brian McGrath,  New York City Tischa Muñoz-Erickson,  Río Piedras, Puerto Rico Ragene Palma,  Manila Diane Pataki,  Salt Lake City Wilson Ramirez Hernandez,  Bogotá Bruce Roll,  Portland David Simon,  Gothenburg Tomomi Sudo,  Kyushu Dimitra Xidous,  Dublin

 

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French Landscape Painters and the Nature of Paris
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of Masterpieces of French Landscape Paintings from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Moscow, an exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Art in Osaka, Japan. If we learn anything from an exhibition such as “Masterpieces of French Landscape Paintings”, it might be that French landscape painters have...

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What did you read in 2018 that moved you?
Isabelle Michele Sophie Anguelovski,  Barcelona Marc Barra,  Paris Katie Coyne,  Austin Samarth Das,  Mumbai Marcelo Lopes de Souza,  Rio de Janeiro Artur Jerzy Filip,  Warsaw Claudia Luna Fuentes,  Saltillo Russell Galt,  Edinburgh Ursula Heise,  Los Angeles Toby Kent,  Melbourne Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Pascal Mittermaier,  Boston Steward Pickett,  Poughkeepsie Huda Shaka,  Dubai David Simon,  Gothenburg Jay Valgora,  New York Chantal van Ham,  Brussels

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2018
David Maddox,  New York

Today’s post celebrates some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2018. 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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Our goal is to empower cities to plan for a positive natural future. What is one specific action that should be taken to achieve this goal?
Graciela Arosemena,  Panama City Marcus Collier,  Dublin Marlies Craig,  Durban Samarth Das,  Mumbai Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires Sumetee Gajjar,  Bangalore Gary Grant,  London Eduardo Guerrero,  Bogotá Fadi Hamdan,  Beirut Scott Kellogg,  Albany Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Yvonne Lynch,  Melbourne Emily Maxwell,  New York Colin Meurk,  Christchurch Ragene Palma,  Manila Jennifer Rae Pierce,  Vancouver Mary Rowe,  Toronto Luis Sandoval,  San José

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A City Designed by Trees
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

Awake a few hours earlier than necessary, we are on bicycles heading through urban infill, in a part of town that used to be Osaka Bay. Moving inland, we pass through a few old shopping arcades, and several dozen close-knit neighborhood blocks where century-old homes with wood frames and soil...

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Hearing from the Future of Cities
Diana Wiesner,  Bogota

“What I like about this landscape is that it’s not painted….I can move around into it and feel it. I think about all the things I can find there. But, after I leave this picture, something always changes, and I do too.” —Gabriela Villate, 7 years old. People see a...

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Ramsar COP 13: What can Artists Contribute to Urban Wetland Restoration?
Chris Fremantle,  Ayrshire, Scotland

The Ramsar Convention (also known as Convention on Wetlands) is the first of the major intergovernmental convention on biodiversity conservation and wise use. It was signed in 1971, in the City of Ramsar in Iran. This October, the 13th Ramsar Conference of the Parties (COP 13) will take place in...

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When a Korean Hillside Town Disappears, Who will Notice?
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of “A Local Neighborhood Traveler,” an exhibition of painting and drawing by Korean artist Se Hee Kim at the Boroomsan Museum of Art in Gimpo, South Korea. On the outskirts of Seoul, tucked away into a traditional hillside garden is the Boroomsan Museum of Art. The museum sits...

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SALT: Restoration + Recreation = Water in California
Robin Lasser,  Oakland Marguerite Perret,  Topeka

It is late June and we are up to our knees floating a small tent sculpture in a containment pond filled with a thick green milkshake-like goo. A combination of duck week and blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), this overgrowth or bloom is probably caused by fertilizer run-off from the surrounding cemetery...

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2046, year of our lady The Fog
Claudia Luna Fuentes,  Saltillo

This is part of the TNOC poetry and fiction series “The City We’re In”. Lea el poema en español, su idioma original. Lisez le poème en français. 2046, year of our lady The Fog Poems by Claudia Luna Fuentes Translation from Spanish by Gerardo Mendoza Garza _____________________________________________ 2046, año de...

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Artists in Conversation with Water in Cities
Carmen Bouyer,  Paris Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Antonio José García Cano,  Murcia Katrine Claassens,  Montreal Claudia Luna Fuentes,  Saltillo Nazlı Gürlek,  Istanbul & Palo Alto Basia Irland,  Albuquerque Robin Lasser,  Oakland Mary Mattingly,  Brooklyn Marguerite Perret,  Topeka Bonnie Sherk,  San Francisco Nadia Vadori-Gauthier,  Paris Aloïs Yang,  Prague

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Ocean Cities: The Power of Documentary Filmmaking to Tell Stories About the Nature Around Us
Tim Beatley,  Charlottesville

At a recent film screening of our new documentary film Ocean Cities, about connecting cities and marine environments, the panel discussion and questions that followed demonstrated clearly the value of these kinds of films. Some of the comments reflected a sense of being inspired by what other cities were doing...

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Secular, Sacred, and Domestic—Living with Street Trees in Bangalore
Suri Venkatachalam,  Bangalore Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore

In rapidly growing Indian cities, change seems like the only constant. Heritage buildings are torn down, roads widened, lakes and wetlands drained, and parks erased to make way for urban growth. Nature is often the first casualty in a constant drive towards development. Yet the street tree stubbornly survives across...

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Trees are Breath
Andreas Weber,  Berlin

In the last days, with the air finally above the freezing point, and the grey silhouettes of the barren twigs dripping with fine silvery moisture against the faint morning light, I have been drawn into the forest. Every morning, I unlocked the chain securing my bike to a low metal...

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Socioecological Science is Failing Cities. The Humanities Can Help
Diane Pataki,  Salt Lake City

“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” — Max Planck As a graduate student, I was often assigned to read the foundational work of...

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The Nature of Public Art: Connecting People to People and People to Nature
Georgina Avlonitis,  Cape Town

Mankind may have left the savannah some million years ago, but the savannah never quite left us. It makes sense that since we co-evolved with nature, our need for it is hardwired into our brains and our genes. For millennia, the nature we’ve had access to has influenced everything from...

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Three Case Studies in Re-wilding: Models and Methods for Other Cities to Consider
Kevin Sloan,  Dallas-Fort Worth

Re-wilding is a new area of interest in landscape architecture concerned with making landscapes that are as close to the original ecology of a place as possible. Not limited to only planting installations, re-wilded landscapes can also exist to attract, reconstitute and/or re-introduce wildlife to heighten biodiversity. Given the emergence...

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Water Marks: An Atlas of Water for the City of Milwaukee
Mary Miss,  New York City

As an artist, having the opportunity to develop a project at the scale of a city has been a remarkable experience. WaterMarks has grown out of a three-year engagement with the city of Milwaukee. City government, academic institutions, and many nonprofits have been essential contributors to the development of this...

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Preserving Urban Nature, No Silver Bullets
Mike Houck,  Portland

There is seldom a “silver bullet”, single pathway to success when it comes to protecting urban greenspaces. Multiple strategies, often modified, sometimes abandoned, are typically the only way grassroots-based urban conservation efforts succeed in the face of bureaucratic resistance. Efforts to preserve and restore a 160-acre wetland in the Willamette...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2017
David Maddox,  New York

Today’s post celebrates highlights from TNOC writing in 2017. These contributions, originating around the world, were widely read, offer novel points of view, are somehow disruptive in a useful way, or combine these characteristics. Certainly, all 1000+ TNOC essays and roundtables are great and worthwhile reads, but what follows will give you a...

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Read This! For Every Continent, Must-Read and Continent-Specific Books About Cities
David Maddox,  New York

AFRICA ASIA AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND EUROPE LATIN AMERICA NORTH AMERICA (not including Mexico)          

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Shifting the Paradigm: Art and Ecology Unite!
Toby Query,  Portland

The world’s ecosystems are rapidly changing, and urban natural areas are often the first to exhibit these changes. The urban heat island effect and increased air, water, and soil pollution are some of the impacts of the increasing human imprint that affect urban natural areas disproportionately. Symptoms of these impacts...

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Let go of some urban domestication: How would you convince the mayor to re-wild the city?
Juan Azcarate,  Bogotá Keith Bowers,  Charleston Katrine Claassens,  Montreal Don Dearborn,  Lewiston Ian Douglas,  Manchester Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires Lincoln Garland,  Bath Amy Hahs,  Ballarat Mark Hostetler,  Gainesville Keitaro Ito,  Fukutsu City Louise Lezy-Bruno,  Paris Jala Makhzoumi,  Beirut Juliana Montoya,  Bogota Daniel Phillips,  Detroit Mohan Rao,  Bangalore Kevin Sloan,  Dallas-Fort Worth Kati Vierikko,  Helsinki

Juliana Montoya and Juan Azcárate, Bogotá (To read this post in English, see here.) Asilvestrando ciudades: Una perspectiva desde la biodiversidad latinoamericana Analizando la idea de asilvestramiento de las ciudades (re-wilding cities) como espacios que permiten la vida de especies de forma natural y espontánea en lugares diferentes a su...

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World Enough: Tales from the Bottom of the Garden
Katrine Claassens,  Montreal

If you took the city of Tokyo and turned it upside down and shook it you would be amazed at the animals that fall out: badgers, wolves, boa constrictors, crocodiles, ostriches, baboons, capybaras, wild boars, leopards, manatees, ruminants, in untold numbers. There is no doubt in my mind that that...

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Artists in Conversation with Air in Cities
Carmen Bouyer,  Paris Tim Collins,  Glasgow Karahan Kadrman,  Istanbul Maggie Lin,  Hong Kong Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Jennifer Monson,  Urbana Fanny Retsek,  San Jose Julia Stern,  Paris Cecilia Vicuña,  Santiago & New York

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Metropolis under Emergency: A Board Game to Plan Resilient Cities while Considering Place Attachment
Paula Villagra,  Valdivia

To plan resilient cities is a complex task. It involves making decisions that involve the built, social, economic, and environmental development of a territory, including unexpected changes, such as those caused by extreme natural events. The effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and fires, among other disturbances, need to be...

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New York’s Central Park as Muse, as Imagination, as Home
Mary Mattingly,  Brooklyn

A review of: Painting Central Park, by Roger Pasquier. 2015. ISBN: 0-86565-314-3. Vendome Press, New York. 197 pages. Buy the Book. For the past two years, I’ve invited people to pick free food on Swale, an edible public park built on a barge in New York City. Creating something unexpected is a...

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Turning Rio Upside Down! The Baixo Rio Neighborhood Project
Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro

Leia uma versão em português aqui. About fifteen years ago I fell in love with watersheds. Then, my passion extended to the forests and ecosystems that sustain them. Then, I discovered the urban waters and biodiversity, and consequently urban ecology, when I started researching on urban blue-green infrastructure and how...

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Patrick Geddes’ 19th Century “Pocket Park” Inspires Art Installation
Allison Palenske,  Edinburgh

A review of “Palm House”, a commissioned project on view at the Edinburgh Art Festival until 27 August 2017. The year is 1880; the place is Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh’s Old Town is internationally known for its squalid conditions; its tenement slums plagued by poor sanitation and overcrowded housing. The medieval...

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Wall Watching in Iran
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

We walked approximately 1,500 kilometers in Iran, and something was noticeably missing: Graffiti. Scribbled names or tags, spray painted symbols, and thought-provoking political commentary were absent in cities, towns and villages from Sarakhs on the Turkmenistan border to Astara on the Azerbaijan border to the sprawling capital of Tehran to...

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Drought and Flood: A Silicon Valley Museum Explores Water, Society, and City
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of “Liquid City,” The Darkened Mirror,” and “Fragile Waters,” a trio of water-related exhibitions at the San Jose Museum of Art, currently on view together through August 6, 2017. As the representative contemporary art institution of Silicon Valley, the San Jose Museum of Art might be expected to...

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Time of the Poppies
Andreas Weber,  Berlin

“Do you seek the highest, the greatest? The plant can teach you to do so. What it is without will of its own, that you should be with intent – that’s the point!” —Friedrich Schiller Some days ago, after giving a lecture in a west German city, I arrived back...

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Great Cities Grow from Great Spaces and Listening to their Citizens
Darlene Wolnik,  New Orleans

A review of: Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, by Robert Kaniglel. 2016. Knopf. 512 pages. Buy the book. Garden Legacy, by Mary Louise Mossy Christovich and Roulhac Bunkley Toledano, with a foreword by S. Frederick Starr. 2016. The Historic New Orleans Collection. 268 pages. Buy the book. Ecocities...

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Yes, in My Backyard!
Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro

What would you do if things went terribly wrong with your city after promises made by your decision-makers of an “Urban Golden Age” resulting from hosting the Olympic Games? In my city, Rio de Janeiro, my students and a lot of people I know and talk to are willing to...

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Trees Are More than Just Trees: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Christine Thuring,  Vancouver

Most of us know how “good” trees are for the urban environment, and for the planet overall. Whether you’re a human, an insect, a fungus, a bat, a bird, a four-legged omnivore, or an amphibian, we all love trees. Trees are symbols of health, vitality, and goodness. For the greater...

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Urban Landscape: Reading Nature from Big to Small Scales
Gloria Aponte,  Medellín

Cities start, grow, expand, and usually—mainly in developing countries—exceed their limits, overflowing into rural and wild lands. This city growth applies not only to the imposition of manmade facets on geographical extensions, but to increases in the city’s complexity and dynamics. Urban phenomena start and keep mistreating nature beyond the...

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To whom does a city’s nature belong? Is it a common pool resource, or a public good? And who decides?
Amita Baviskar,  Delhi Lindsay Campbell,  New York James Connolly,  Barcelona Sheila Foster,  Washington, DC Phil Ginsburg,  San Francisco Jeff Hou,  Seattle Marianne Krasny,  Ithaca Mary Mattingly,  Brooklyn Oona Morrow,  Berlin Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore Raul Pacheco-Vega,  Aguascalientes Michael Sarbanes,  Baltimore Philip Silva,  New York Diana Wiesner,  Bogota

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Eight Machinic Scenes in Hamasen, Taiwan
Brian McGrath,  New York City Cheng-Luen Hsueh,  Tainan

In this post, we report on a recent design workshop at National Cheng Kung University, or NCKU, in Tainan, Taiwan, a continuation a series of of intensive practicums held at undergraduate schools of architecture in successive locations internationally since 2008. The work presented here extends from our last essay, posted...

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Thinking about a Landscape Approach to Revitalize the American Landscape
William Dunbar,  Tokyo

I normally write in The Nature of Cities about biocultural diversity, particularly related to the developing world, but in light of recent events, I would like to ask the reader’s indulgence in my writing about a slightly different topic, and maybe even getting on my soapbox a little. You see,...

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Exploring Questions of Architecture and Identity from “The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria”
Huda Shaka,  Dubai

Marwa al-Sabouni’s recent book on her experience as a young architect in Syria provides fascinating insights into the past, as well as current and future life in war-torn Syria. Although I have not been to Syria, the brave questions and reflections al-Sabouni poses resonate with me as they have resonated...

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Response and Recovery After the Deadliest United States Tornado in a Century
Traci Sooter,  Springfield

On Sunday, 22 May 2011, a multiple-vortex tornado touched down shortly after 5:00pm and began to rip a path nearly a mile wide across Joplin, Missouri, through the town of Duquesne, and into the rural areas of Jasper County. The Storm was on the ground for 38 minutes and traveled...

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What are we trying to accomplish with biophilic cities? What are ambitious goals and targets, and measures of success?
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town Tim Beatley,  Charlottesville Lena Chan,  Singapore Paul Downton,  Melbourne Ian Douglas,  Manchester Dusty Gedge,  London David Goode,  Bath Bram Gunther,  New York Chris Ives,  Nottingham Tania Katzschner,  Cape Town Steve Maslin,  Bristol Peter Newman,  Perth Phil Roös,  Geelong Eric Sanderson,  New York Jana Söderlund,  Perth Fleur Timmer,  Bristol Chantal van Ham,  Brussels Mike Wells,  Bath Ken Yeang,  Kuala Lumpur

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Are We Truly Connected in Today’s High Frequency World?
Chantal van Ham,  Brussels

In September last year, the IUCN World Conservation Congress—Planet at the Crossroads—brought together in Hawai’i more than 10,000 participants from 180 countries, including top scientists and academics, world leaders and decision makers from governments, civil society, indigenous peoples, and business. It presented a unique opportunity to discuss the unprecedented challenges...

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Shaped by Urban History—Reflections on Bangkok
Richard Friend,  York

It takes distance to gain a sense of perspective, and so I find myself sitting in a small market town in the north of England looking halfway across the world at my time living in one of the world’s great emerging megacities, Bangkok. From this market town there is a...

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Poems Have the Power to Elucidate New Urban Futures
Laura Booth,  San Francisco

A review of The Ecopoetry Anthology, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street. 2013. Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX. 628 pages. Buy the book. Are cities beyond the help of poetry? Donald Trump and his administration seem to think so, and their recent actions give the question urgency for...

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Of Wilderness, Wild-ness, and Wild Things
Nina-Marie Lister,  Toronto

And I think in this empty world there was room for me and a mountain lion. And I think in the world beyond, how easily we might spare a million or two humans And never miss them. Yet what a gap in the world, the missing white-frost face of that...

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Finding Nature in the Walls of a Power Station
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of Why Not Ask Again, the 11th Shanghai Biennale at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai, China, on view through 12 March 2017. It’s not unusual by any means in the contemporary art world, but as an edifice, the Power Station of Art is just about as...

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You say po-TAY-to. What ecologists and landscape architects don’t get about each other, but ought to.
Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires Mark Hostetler,  Gainesville Maria E Ignatieva,  Perth Amy Hahs,  Ballarat Jürgen Breuste,  Salzburg Susannah Drake,  New York City Marcus Hedblom,  Uppsala Andrew Grant,  Bath Mike Wells,  Bath Steven Handel,  New Brunswick Diane Pataki,  Salt Lake City Ian MacGregor-Fors,  Xalapa Anne Trumble,  Los Angeles Christine Thuring,  Vancouver Kevin Sloan,  Dallas-Fort Worth Gloria Aponte,  Medellín Nina-Marie Lister,  Toronto Sarah Hinners,  Salt Lake City AnaLuisa Artesi,  Buenos Aires Jala Makhzoumi,  Beirut Jason King,  Portland Yun Hye HWANG,  Singapore Danielle Dagenais,  Montreal Mary Cadenasso,  Davis Veronica Fabio,  Buenos Aires Peter Werner,  Darmstadt

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Resolving to Act After the 2016 U.S. Election and the United Nations Climate Conference
Franco Montalto,  Philadelphia and Venice Hugh Johnson,  Philadelphia

We attended the 22nd session of the United Nations Climate Conference (also called COP22) as “Observers” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. 2016 presidential election. Since 1995, the COP has served as the annual UN climate conference, providing an opportunity to assess progress, negotiate agreements, and disseminate information regarding...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2016
David Maddox,  New York

Today’s post celebrates highlights from TNOC writing in 2016. These contributions, originating around the world, were widely read, offer novel points of view, are somehow disruptive in a useful way, or combine these characteristics. Certainly, all 550+ TNOC essays and roundtables are great and worthwhile reads, but what follows will give you a...

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Morphology, Generosity, and the Nature of Cities
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

A review of The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria. By Marwa Al-Sabouni. 2016. Thames & Hudson, New York. ISBN-10: 0500343179. 208 pages. Buy the book. I have been reading an extraordinary book by Marwa Al-Sabouni: The Battle for Home: the Vision of a Young Architect in Syria, who...

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A Barley Field Grows on Soviet Concrete
Andrea Tamm and Ann Press,  Tallinn

In the summer of 2016, the largest Soviet-era residential area of Estonia was living a new life. The district Lasnamäe, including Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, was built in the late 70s, but it has fallen into stagnation. Little has changed since its inception, and those big plans are still unfinished....

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Social Media Sharks and Tell-Tale Vultures—Connecting to Nature in a Digital Age
Tim Beatley,  Charlottesville

Nature is being lost all around us. It is alarming in its implications for both livability and sustainability. How can we better connect to nature in a distracted digital world? Although it may not be intuitive, these are also promising times because of all the digital tools and technology we...

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Tim Ingold’s “Sustainability of Everything”
Chris Fremantle,  Ayrshire, Scotland

A review of Tim Ingold‘s lecture event “The Sustainability of Everything” at the Centre for Human Ecology, Pearce Institute, Glasgow, Scotland Sustainability is an overused word. It is much diminished by its occurrence in too many documents purporting to suggest that transport, local government or this tea or those coffee...

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Uses and Abuses of Preservation
Mathieu Hélie,  Montréal

The current system of zoning and planning is wrongly fixated on maintaining state instead of preserving good patterns, and changing this fixation will be the key to making growth beneficial to all civic stakeholders. The most contentious issue in North American urbanism today is preservation. More than transportation, more than...

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Are You Connected?
Erik Andersson,  Stockholm

I am an unreserved admirer of landscape scenery and mountain vistas, space, and the connection between site and surroundings has always interested me. When I was first in Japan, I spent a lot of time visiting and enjoying parks. Aesthetics and presentation are very important for how we interpret and...

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Viola Has an Acorn in Her Pocket
Stephan Barthel,  Stockholm

I live in Stockholm, Sweden. I enjoy talking walks in the autumn, inhaling the scent from degrading debris, kicking around dead leaves, and gazing at the vivid colors. This fall, my baby daughter has often followed me on my walks. Her name is Viola, and she is 4 years old....

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Georgetown, Guyana—the Birding World’s Best Kept Secret?
Melinda Janki,  Georgetown, Guyana

Georgetown, Guyana, is one of the world’s smallest capital cities, a mere six mi.2 according to its official boundaries. The Dutch laid out this city, perched on the northern Atlantic coast of South America, in the 18th century; the British expanded it in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tree-lined avenues,...

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Making Connections and Feeding Relationships: Reflections from a Biocultural Axiom of Aloha
Heather McMillen,  Honolulu

What if urban resource management and conservation reflected not just the politics and science of the day, but were rooted in creation stories, place-name stories, and personal stories about the relationships people have with place? This kind of thinking is at the heart of traditional ways of stewarding the environment...

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Urban Wildlife—Celebrating the Commonplace
Mike Houck,  Portland

A review of Field Guide to Urban Wildlife: Common Animals of Cities & Suburbs How They Adapt & Thrive by Julie Feinstein. 2011. Stackpole Books. ISBN978-0-8117-0585-1. 453 pages. Buy the book. While it may have set a Guiness record for longest subtitle, Julie Feinstein’s Field Guide to Urban Wildlife caused me to...

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How can we make urban nature and its value more apparent, more “visible” to people?
Simone Borelli,  Rome Sarah Charlop-Powers,  New York Marcus Collier,  Dublin Sven Eberlein,  Oakland David Goode,  Bath Leen Gorissen,  Antwerp Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro Seth Magle,  Chicago Polly Moseley,  Liverpool Ragene Palma,  Manila Jennifer Sánchez,  San José Richard Scott,  Liverpool Chantal van Ham,  Brussels Gavin Van Horn,  Chicago Mark Weckel,  New York Mike Wetter,  Portland Niki Frantzeskaki,  Rotterdam Hastings Chikoko,  Johannesburg

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Talking the Walk—Narrating and Navigating the Life of the Los Angeles River
Anne Trumble,  Los Angeles

A review of Rosten Woo’s “Bowtie Nature Walk,” available at the Bowtie Parcel on the east side of the Los Angeles River’s Glendale Narrows. A map and tour audio files are available here. A “nature walk” seems like an unlikely activity to find on the industrial banks of the Los...

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The Rivers Have Called Upon Us
Niki Singleton,  New York City

As I was reading Musagetes’ Manifesto on Economic Dignity and getting all passionate about activism, the usual disturbing and stressful noise from the construction of a new ferry pier next to the construction site of another huge tower on the East River in New York City started up. The new...

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Torpor and Awakening
Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti,  Vancouver

I am from a family with Indigenous Latin American and German ancestry. I have been to many different countries and lived in different places. I believe this is partly because the Indigenous tradition my family comes from is nomadic. They see the earth as a living entity, and if they...

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Timely Tales of Urban Nature
Gavin Van Horn,  Chicago

A review of City Wilds: Essays and Stories about Urban Nature by Terrell F. Dixon. 2002. The University of Georgia Press. ISBN: 978-0820323398. 336 pages. Buy the book. Writing this review came with a built-in challenge: Is an anthology, now almost 15 years old, worth a reader’s time and money? I...

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Formes pour vivre: An Experiment in Ecological-Environmental-Scientific Poetics
Karen Houle,  Guelph

In this short essay my aim is modest and two-fold. First, I would like to share with you a story about an experiment in ecological-environmental-scientific-poetics that worked out beautifully. It worked so well that I believe it is worth sharing. Second, in the spirit of sharing, so that others can try...

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What are the unifying elements of an urban ecology of the Global South and geographic south? Are they different than those in the north?
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town Olga Barbosa,  Valdivia Timothy Bonebrake,  Hong Kong Bharat Dahiya,  Bangkok Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires Sabina Caula,  Ibarra, Ecuador Shuaib Lwasa,  Kampala Fadi Hamdan,  Beirut Yvonne Lynch,  Melbourne Colin Meurk,  Christchurch Sue Parnell,  Cape Town Steward Pickett,  Poughkeepsie Luis Sandoval,  San José Seth Schindler,  Sheffield Tan Puay Yok,  Singapore

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Elephants in the City
Lynn Wilson,  Vancouver

I recently spent a month in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and have been reflecting on my experience ever since. Chiang Mai is a beautiful and vibrant city, rich in culture and history. The Buddhist religion permeates every aspect of the city and surrounding countryside, with temples and symbols of Buddhism everywhere....

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Water as a Commons in Detroit, the Great Lakes, and Beyond
Rebecca Salminen Witt,  Detroit

For a state surrounded by fresh water, Michigan, in the northern United States, certainly has had its share of water woes lately. Michigan’s water has always been our crowning glory; from our geography to our automobile license plates, the Great Lakes define us. As we hit the height of summer,...

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Lessons from Beasts, Birds, and Other Inhabitants of the Urban Jungle
Chris Hensley,  Fresno

A review of The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. 2013. ISBN: 978-0316178525. Little, Brown and Company. 338 pages. Buy the book. Bestiaries—elaborate and fantastical combinations of medieval scientific knowledge and folklore—were meant to describe the animal life of the Earth. These large volumes depict all...

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Skin the City
Paula Segal,  Brooklyn Daniel Eizirik,  Porto Allegre

The skin of the city shifts. Waves of residents come and go; meanings vanish. The longer I live here, the more I feel like I am a creature of many phantom limbs. Hungry, I walk to Jimmy’s hoping for fish and a chair to eat it in, but it is...

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The High Line. Foreseen. Unforeseen.
Adrian Benepe,  New York

A review of The High Line. By James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofido + Renfro. 2015. ISBN: 9780714871004. Phaidon Press. 452 pages. Buy the book. New York City’s High Line Park, once a rusting relic of abandoned freight rail transportation infrastructure, has become arguably one of the world’s best-known...

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Restoration of Natural Ecosystems Makes Society Thrive
Chantal van Ham,  Brussels

Our planet is at a crossroads. The ecosystems that underpin our economy, well-being, and survival are collapsing, species are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate, and climate change continues unabated. In these times of change, nature-based solutions can offer a way of addressing growing challenges such as climate change (TNC,...

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Unbounding Aboriginal and Settler Urban Natures
Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal

On 21 June 2016, I committed to reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report executive summary as part of a national (Canadian) collective challenge. What is the TRC report and what does it have to do with urban natures and sustainable cities? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established...

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Urban Ecology Reformation is Spreading Across the Globe
Mark McDonnell,  Melbourne Ian MacGregor-Fors,  Xalapa Amy Hahs,  Ballarat

Our world is rapidly urbanizing at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of human kind. In 2014, the urban population reached nearly 4 billion people and it is predicted to gain an additional 2.5 billion people, most of whom will reside in African and Asian cities. Although the...

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Anatomy of a Mural: A Seventy Foot Heron Transforms a Lifeless Wall
Mike Houck,  Portland

Recently, The Nature of Cities launched Up Against the Wall: A Gallery of Nature-Themed Graffiti and Street Art, soliciting graffiti and murals celebrating nature in the city. I submitted images of what I believe to be the largest hand-painted wall mural on a building in North America. I frequently lead...

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Leveraging Environmental Arts for Education and Sustainable Futures
Hilary Inwood,  Toronto Joe Heimlich,  Columbus Kumara Ward,  Sydney Jennifer Adams,  New York City

Cities around the world are using the arts to enhance urban aesthetic experiences and motivate innovative environmental activism. Manifesting as flash mobs, immersive street theatre, bike parades, pop-up installations, zero-carbon concerts, and participatory storytelling, artists are using their creativity and ingenuity to draw attention to and propose solutions for the...

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Positive Youth Development in Urban Environmental Education
Tania Schusler,  Chicago Jacqueline Davis-Manigaulte,  New York City Amy Cutter-Mackenzie,  Gold Coast, AU

Environmental education is often associated with environmental learning and pro-environmental behaviors. Some approaches to environmental education, however, also enable young people’s personal growth through the development of confidence, self-efficacy, and other assets that support an individual’s well-being. This chapter explores the intersection of urban environmental education and positive youth development....

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Poetry Produces the Novel Language of Future Cities
Laura Booth,  San Francisco

A review of Urban Nature: Poems About Wildlife in the City. 2000. Edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis. ISBN: 1571314105. 265 pages. Buy the book. How can poems advance our understanding of nature in cities? If cities themselves are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure, it follows that these...

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Market-Based Solutions Cannot Forge Transformative and Inclusive Urban Futures
Richard Friend,  York

There is an advertisement that is played with great frequency on television in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Even without the language, the imagery is powerful and vivid; the meaning seems unambiguous. In the setting of a sparklingly clean, modern kitchen, a young pregnant woman goes to drink a glass of what appears...

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Biophilic Urban Acupuncture: The Importance of Biophilia in Urban Places
Jonce Walker,  New York City

As our cities expand and densify simultaneously, there is a need to design places to connect people to nature. If we are not careful, our commute and daily experience within the city will be nothing more than glass, steel, and concrete. This post articulates the need for biophilic interventions in...

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Ceci N’est Pas le Ciel: Biophilia, Design, and Illusions of Authenticity
Paul Downton,  Melbourne

A recent post by an online design-oriented magazine devoted to things environmental declared that it had been a good week for the environment and proceeded to list a number of initiatives and new products that were almost exclusively to do with human technology. It struck me that the average tree...

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Visions of resilience: Eighteen artists say or show something in response to the word “resilience”
Juan Carlos Arroyo,  Bogotá David Brooks,  New York City Katrine Claassens,  Montreal Emilio Fantin,  Milan Ganzeer,  Los Angeles Lloyd Godman,  Melbourne Fran Ilich,  New York City Frida Larios,  Antiguo Cuzcatlán, Copán, and Washington Todd Lester,  Säo Paulo Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Mary Mattingly,  Brooklyn David Maddox,  New York E. J. McAdams,  New York City Mary Miss,  New York City Edna Peres,  Johannesburg Caroline Robinson,  Auckland Finzi Saidi,  Pretoria Keijiro Suzuki,  Yamaguchi & Nagoya

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Capturing Stewardship Stories: The Unlikely Tale of a Massive Open Online Course
Kimberly Snyder,  Ithaca Marianne Krasny,  Ithaca

From a centuries-old pear tree marking the remnants of a castle in the Czech Republic, to an urban perimeter of abandoned ammunitions dumps in Spain, to a tiny balcony in cramped New Delhi—places that people care about dot the globe. Stewards, often driven by place attachments, meanings, and memories, defy...

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Cities Are Home to Threatened Species. So What?
Chris Ives,  Nottingham

My and my colleagues’ recent research from Australia has shown that cities are hotspots for threatened species (Ives et al 2015). There is a remarkable diversity of rare plants and animals that exist alongside the places where people live and work. While results from this new study are striking, they...

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Small Rain Gardens for Stormwater and Biodiversity in the City: Learning from Traditional Ways
Keitaro Ito,  Fukutsu City

“For whom do all the flowers blossom in the spring?” —A phrase of Zen word in springtime These days, especially in summertime, we have heavy rain in Japan. Stormwater usually goes into concrete drains and flows into rivers. Most of the land in urban areas in our country is covered...

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How Perspectives of Field Arborists and Tree Climbers are Useful for Understanding and Managing Urban Forests
Adrina Bardekjian,  Montreal

When there is a storm, trees can cause damage to homes, cars, and people—ultimately, the tree itself is a casualty of a storm. At these moments, generally, the public perceives arborists as the heroes of storms—arborists remove the “problem” from their properties. But at most other times during the year,...

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Graffiti and street art can be controversial, but can also be a medium for voices of social change, protest, or expressions of community desire. What, how, and where are examples of graffiti as a positive force in communities?
Pauline Bullen,  Harare Paul Downton,  Melbourne Emilio Fantin,  Milan Ganzeer,  Los Angeles Germán Gomez,  Bogotá Sidd Joag,  New York City Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka David Maddox,  New York Patrice Milillo,  Los Angeles Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal

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What Can We Learn from Chinese Classical Gardens?
David Goode,  Bath

Step off the street in Suzhou through a small door and you leave behind the bustling cacophony of a modern Chinese city to enter a different world of tranquility and calm, where natural features create a sense of being surrounded by nature in a tiny oasis that is a scholar’s...

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Knowing vs. Doing: Propelling Design with Ecology
Anne Trumble,  Los Angeles

A review of Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister. 2014. ISBN: 1940291127. ACTAR, Harvard Graduate School of Design. 314 pages. Buy the book. Several months ago, I reviewed Landscape Imagination, a collection of essays by James Corner, a professor at University of Pennsylvania and the landscape architect who...

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Photo Essay: Life and Water at Rachenahalli Lake
Sumetee Gajjar,  Bangalore

Rachenahalli is one of the few living lakes of Bangalore, in the north of the city. It is connected to water bodies upstream and downstream, particularly Jakkur Lake in the northeast. Both of these lakes have been rejuvenated, at substantial cost, by the Bangalore Development Authority over the last decade....

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Sustainable Cities Don’t Need Nature—They Need Good Design
Philip Silva,  New York

We’ve seen a surge in new open space design initiatives here in New York City in the past decade, with projects as big and bureaucratically complex as the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island and as small and locally focused as the Bedford-Stuyvensant Community Garden in Brooklyn. Many of...

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Resilience and the Butterfly Effect: Could a Grain of Quinoa from Bolivia Influence Barcelona City Resilience?
Lorenzo Chelleri,  Barcelona

Edward Lorenz’s application of chaos theory to weather forecasting is better known to the general public as “the butterfly effect”, thanks to his conference presentation, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” Lorenz’s law explains to us that there are unknown and...

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Setting Priorities with the Human Footprint, or Why I Am an Urban Conservationist
Eric Sanderson,  New York

A frequent refrain in conservation is that we must prioritize. A cottage industry of conservation biologists, among whom I count myself, has risen to plan conservation and set priorities. And in nearly all of the hundreds or thousands of pages of conservation prioritizations that have already been published, nearly always...

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Intertwining People, Nature, and Place with Quilts and Thread
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of Earth Stories, an exhibition on view at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles now through February 28, 2016. The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is tucked into a rather plain looking beige building at the southern end of San Jose’s “SoFA” arts district....

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The Ecologies of Senses and Environmental Justice in Managua
Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal

We experience the city through our senses. When we walk along city sidewalks or in parks, we can feel the city—we hear sounds, feel the materiality of the pavement or grass, and smell the car exhaust or freshly cut grass. These ‘sensual’ experiences of urban space are referred to as...

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Finding My Sustainable Way
Miranda Gardiner,  Frankfurt

I’m lost. I started my career in sustainability for my friends and family, especially for their children. I had a desire to create a planet to enjoy, not one where they have problems breathing from air pollution, or can’t go outside during the summer because it’s too hot. I felt...

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The New Vocabulary of Urban Landscaping for Southern California
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles Kitty Connolly,  Los Angeles

The drought in California over the last few years has been long enough and sufficiently severe to compel mandatory urban water restrictions from the State Water Resources Control Board, an unprecedented policy move. The Board has also required, for the first time in state history, the reporting of per capita...

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Nature in Chicago: Surprisingly Wild, Surprisingly Human
Chris Hensley,  Fresno

A review of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, edited by Gavin Van Horn and Dave Aftandilian. 2015. ISBN: 978-0-226-19289-5. University of Chicago Press. 377 pages. Buy the book. Normally, in these book reviews, I do my best to present a fair, unbiased account of what a book does...

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The Elephant in the Room: Amazonian Cities Deserve More Attention in Climate Change and Sustainability Discussions
Eduardo Brondizio,  Bloomington

Justifiably, the Amazon region has been at the center of climate change discussions and negotiations since the late 1980s. It is not difficult to explain ‘justifiably’ when one is referring to a region of continental proportions, with unparalleled biological and cultural diversity, and whose biogeochemical cycles and atmospheric circulation processes...

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The Revalorization of Urban Nature, for Good and Ill
Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore

An image of expanding cities is associated, in most people’s minds, with the shrinking and gradual disappearance of urban nature. Yet, as life in cities becomes increasingly stressful and challenging, a gradual revalorization of urban nature is taking place across the cities of the world. The importance of urban nature is...

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The Heart, Brain and Soul of City Parks
Adrian Benepe,  New York

A review of Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities, by Alexander Garvin. 2010. ISBN: 0393732797. New York, USA: W. W. Norton & Company. 224 pages. And City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts, by Catie Marron. 2013. ISBN: 0062231790. New York, USA. Harper. 304 pages. Buy the books. The last part...

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Creative Place-Making—This is The Nature of Graffiti
David Maddox,  New York Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town Paul Downton,  Melbourne Emilio Fantin,  Milan Germán Gomez,  Bogotá Julie Goodness,  Stockholm Mike Houck,  Portland Todd Lester,  Säo Paulo Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka 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, and their existential meaning. We depend on nature’s services and...

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Greening Cities with an Urban Forest across Both Public and Private Domains
Meredith Dobbie,  Victoria

At a time when the importance of trees in cities is gaining attention, the canopy cover of Australian suburbs is decreasing. Local councils’ response is to plant more trees in the public domain, but what of the private domain? A quick glance around many Australian suburbs suggests that residents do...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2015
David Maddox,  New York

Today’s post is offered as a celebration of some of the content from 2015—a taste…a combination of TNOC writing from around the world that is a combination of diverse, widely read, a novel point of view, or somehow disruptive in an useful way. Certainly all 350+ TNOC essays and roundtables are great...

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Photo Essay: Untold Stories of Change, Loss and Hope Along the Margins of Bengaluru’s Lakes
Marthe Derkzen,  Amsterdam

Before becoming India’s information technology hub, Bengaluru was known for its numerous lakes and green spaces. Rapid urbanization has led to the disappearance of many of these ecosystems. Those that remain face a range of challenges: residential and commercial construction, pollution and waste dumping, privatization, and so on. Today, Bengaluru’s...

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Sowing the Seeds of Green Urbanism: ‘Spring is Here and the Time is Right for Planting in the Streets’
Paul Downton,  Melbourne

A review of The Revolutionary Urbanism of Street Farm: Eco-Anarchism, Architecture and Alternative Technology in the 1970s, by Stephen E. Hunt. 2014. ISBN 978-1-906477-44-8. Tangent Books, Bristol. 246 pages, including 16 pages of illustrations. Visions of cities draped in vegetation are now de rigueur for any architect, planner or urbanist...

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My Experiment with One Week of Zero Waste
Briana Liu,  Beijing

This past summer in Beijing, my coworker initiated a zero waste campaign for the office. Under the campaign, we pledged to live zero waste (or, at least, to consciously minimize our waste to the most practical degree) for as long as we wanted to or could. Zero waste is an...

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Close Encounters of the Moose Kind
Bill Sherwonit,  Anchorage

Now a century old, Anchorage has at various times during its short history proclaimed itself the “Air Crossroads of the World,” a “City of Lights” and a place of “Big Wild Life” (the latter for the community’s “perfect blend of urbanity and wilderness”). But I have long believed—and yes, opined...

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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 fabric of our urban and urbanizing neighborhoods. I sent a...

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Opportunities and Challenges in Working with Volunteers in Local Parks
Lynn Wilson,  Vancouver

The urge to contribute one’s time, without compensation, to benefit a closely held cause or purpose appears to be a deeply rooted human need because volunteerism is found everywhere, in various forms and for every conceivable reason. For instance, every year, more than 13 million people volunteer in Canada, 63...

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Abandoned and Auctioned, an Old House Finds a Future in Flowers
Rebecca Salminen Witt,  Detroit

A review of Flower House Detroit, which ran October 16-18, 2015 at 11751 Dequindre St, Hamtramck, Michigan. Once again, something amazing and ephemeral has appeared in Detroit. Flower House Detroit (which was actually located in the city of Hamtramck, 2 square miles enveloped by the city of Detroit) was, at its...

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How the White House Went Green: The Environmental Legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson
Adrian Benepe,  New York

Which American president administration of the last century has the strongest record on preserving the environment and natural beauty? Presidents Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt, who created the National Wildlife Refuge System (protecting 230 million acres) and established the Civilian Conservation Corps, putting 2.5 million people to work building trails and...

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Cities in Imagination
David Maddox,  New York

Resilience is the word of the decade, as sustainability was in previous decades. No doubt, our view of the kind and quality of cities we as societies want to build will continue to evolve and inspire new descriptive goals. Surely we have not lost our desire for sustainable cities, with...

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A New Reconnection Agenda for People and Nature
Chris Ives,  Nottingham

I have recently started working on a new project that will explore how reconnecting people with nature can help transform society towards sustainability (see http://leveragepoints.org). ‘Connectedness with nature’ has recently become a buzz phrase, with scientists, journalists and practitioners talking about the problems of disconnection, the benefits of reconnection, and...

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September 11, 2015: An Event Ethnography of Living Memorials
Lindsay Campbell,  New York Erika Svendsen,  New York Heather McMillen,  Honolulu Novem Auyeung,  New York City Rachel Holmes,  New Haven Michelle Johnson,  New York City Renae Reynolds,  New York City

A reading of names. A procession. Placing flowers on memorials. Music. Moments of silence. Tolling of bells. Certain abiding symbols and gestures give structure to our memorial remembrances. In particular, we have come to expect a ritual formality and consistency at the World Trade Center site for remembering September 11,...

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What Pope Francis Might Do to Advance Climate Justice During His Visit to New York
Rebecca Bratspies,  New York City

Pope Francis visits the United States in late September 2015.  He will speak in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, including an address at the United Nations and to a full Congress. His visit will be an opportunity for reflection and—who knows—might possibly be a turning point in the United...

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Social Practice Artwork: A Restaurant and Garden Serving up Connections to Urban Nature
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

Can an urban garden help us remember what it means to be human? Three months ago, we opened a slightly audacious restaurant and garden in a working-class suburb of Osaka, Japan with the intent of connecting people more deeply with food and nature in their neighborhood. Experimental and temporary in...

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Civic Ecology Meets EdX: An Experiment in Online Social Learning and Action
Marianne Krasny,  Ithaca

A pop-up garden in Kiev, volunteer “spotfixes” along sidewalks in Bangalore, and a flower garden planted atop a deadly landslide after an earthquake in Japan. These and other civic ecology practices are expanding in number. But how do we connect people across these disparate practices and places so that we...

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Biocultural Diversity and the Diverse City: A Model for Linking Nature and Culture
William Dunbar,  Tokyo

The concept of biocultural diversity— the coming together of biological and cultural diversity—is receiving more attention recently along with an awareness that elements of cultures all around the world are deeply rooted in the nature, or biological diversity, around them, and that greater cultural diversity comes with greater biological diversity....

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Why don’t all public buildings have green roofs? Or all large private buildings (e.g. businesses)? Would this be a good idea? What would it take to make it happen and to make it worthwhile?
Maryam Akbarian,  Tehran Wolfgang Ansel,  Nürtingen Nathalie Baumann,  Basel Michael Berkshire,  Chicago Rebecca Bratspies,  New York City Amy Chomowicz,  Portland Andrew Clements,  Corinth Karla Dakin,  Denver Stuart Gaffin,  New York Dusty Gedge,  London André Gonçalves,  Goiânia Ulrike Grau,  Mexico City Angela Loder,  Denver Amosh Neupane,  Middlebury Matt Palmer,  New York City Kerry Ross,  Calgary Kaveh Samiei,  Tehran Julie Santos,  London & Buenos Aires Kate Scherer,  New York Mark Simmons,  Austin Kevin Songer,  Jacksonville Christine Thuring,  Vancouver

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Glasgow Made the Clyde and the Clyde Made Glasgow
Allison Palenske,  Edinburgh

A review of “Clyde Reflections,” an art film by Stephen Hurrel and  Ruth Brennan, on exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland. The west coast of Scotland has been known to enchant, with its rough coastal edges, intricately carved islands, charming towns, and an aquatic landscape that...

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Urban Nature as Festival: Berlin’s Long Day of Urban Nature
Katharine Burgess,  Washington, D.C

Just before 10 am one Sunday this June, 300 people prepared for a boat ride on the River Spree, lining up in a park next to the longest surviving stretch of the Berlin Wall. The boat was a cheerful blue and yellow passenger vessel, mostly used for river tourist excursions...

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How Does Your Garden Grow? Stories from South African Gardeners
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town

Why do we plant what we do in our personal gardens? It turns out it’s driven by a complicated mix of personal philosophy and social posturing, which sometimes are at odds. And, it turns out, in South Africa and many other countries, we don’t even plant our own gardens. This...

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Trees of Life and Fruitful Relationships
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of Arboreal Architecture: A Visual History of Trees, an exhibition on view at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, now through July 20, 2015. The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford is a beacon for global arts and culture in Silicon Valley—it opened its doors in 1894, nearly a century...

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Sustainability is Everywhere
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

A review of Sustainability in the Global City, Myth and Practice, edited by Cindy Isenhour, Gary McDonogh and Melissa Checker. 2015. ISBN: 9781107076280. Cambridge University Press, New York. 426 pages. As the introductory chapter states: “Sustainability is everywhere.” Indeed, what did we do before the introduction of the term? Sustainability...

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How Can We Engage Residents to Conserve Urban Biodiversity? Talk to Them
Mark Hostetler,  Gainesville

If you are like me, when walking in some neighborhoods, you see the endless yards of turfgrass and exotic plants and you think to yourself, “How can I reach people to change their landscaping practices?” Or you may see natural areas impacted by nearby urban areas, such as ATV vehicles...

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Lions and Roaches and Boars, Oh My! Cities are Full of Animals
Chris Hensley,  Fresno

A review of Feral Cities: Adventures with Animals in the Urban Jungle, by Tristan Donovan. 2015. ISBN: 978-1-56976-067-3. Chicago Review Press, Inc., Chicago. 256 pages. From red foxes in London and wild boars in Berlin to cockroaches in New York City and slugs in Miami, Feral Cities is full of...

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Joplin Tornado Anniversary Marks Civic Ecology Successes
Keith Tidball,  Ithaca

On May 22, 2011, a devastating EF-5 tornado forever changed the Midwestern cities of Joplin and Duquesne. The tornado was ½ mile to ¾ of a mile wide and traveled nearly thirteen miles, with winds estimated at 200 mph. The tornado took 161 lives and destroyed homes, businesses, churches, hospitals,...

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“Community in Nature”: Reconnecting Singapore’s Urbanites with Nature
Lena Chan,  Singapore Linda Goh,  Singapore Samantha Lai,  Singapore Boyi Zhou,  Singapore

In an increasingly urbanised world, there is a growing disconnect between the people who live in cities and the natural environment. Urbanites tend to have less contact with natural habitats and biodiversity than their country or rural counterparts, and in some cases have been known to develop a disinterest or...

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Cities, People, Business and Nature: In Search of Innovative Models of Engagement
Chantal van Ham,  Brussels

Seek the silent places where no jarring sound is heard and nothing breaks the stillness but the singing of a bird. Nature tells her secrets not to those who hurry by, but to those who walk with quiet heart and seeing eye. —Chinese proverb I recently discovered that the word...

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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 natural world throughout the Pacific Northwest in both urban and...

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Birds are for Girls? What Children’s Media Teaches Kids about Nature and Cities
Laura Shillington,  Managua & Montreal

In his essay published on The Nature of Cities in 2013, Keitaro Ito asked what seems at first to be a simple question: “Where will children learn about nature?” Yet it is actually an incredibly complex question, caught up in adult ideas that romanticize both childhood and nature. Children’s understanding...

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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 M. Lydon,  Osaka David Maddox,  New York Chris Payne,  New York City Eric Sanderson,  New York Jonathan Stenvall,  Stockholm Benjamin Swett,  New York City

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A Tree Hitched to the Universe
Russell Galt,  Edinburgh

A wee garden in a windy city From a leafy suburb in the shadow of Table Mountain, I need not venture far to encounter a myriad of remarkable creatures employing clever survival strategies. Fighting, stalking, feigning, loving, dancing, stealing, and darting, biodiversity spills into and out of my garden. It...

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Artists, Vagabonds, and an Accidental Nature Reserve in San Francisco Bay
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

A review of Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art and Culture, an exhibition curated by Robin Lasser, Danielle Siembieda, and Barbara Boissevain at SOMArts, San Francisco, USA.  For such a far-reaching social and ecological exposition, Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art and Culture centers on a surprisingly small piece of man-made land...

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What are “Garden Cities” Without a Garden Culture? How a Cultural Connection with Nature Can Build a Truly Sustainable Future
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

This marks the fourth year that my partner Suhee Kang and I have been studying, working with, living with, and learning from individuals in East Asia and the U.S. who are at the forefront of the sustainable (agri)culture movement. During this time, our primary goal has been the making of...

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Extinction of Experience: Does it Matter?
Marianne Krasny,  Ithaca

Right after I graduated from Cornell, I took off for the North Cascades wilderness. First as a student and later an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, I spent summers in Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, ice climbing out of crevasses, backpacking through Pacific Northwest old growth forests, and scaling ancient...

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It Is Difficult to Take In the Glory of the Dandelion
David Maddox,  New York

“It is difficult to take in all the glory of the Dandelion, as it is to take in a mountain, or a thunderstorm.” Charles Burchfield (1893–1967) is legendary for his watercolor landscapes, painted near his Buffalo, NY, home. His paintings are typically about nature: swamps and forests and backyards that include...

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Encountering the Urban Forest
Lindsay Campbell,  New York

For all the critical scholarship that is written about the harnessing of volunteer labor in caring for urban trees (see, e.g., Perkins 2009), it never squared with my experience of engaging in stewardship. Following attendance at a human geography panel on ‘powerful objects’, I came to realize that my leisure...

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The Nature of Holy Cities
Naomi Tsur,  Jerusalem

While it is undoubtedly true that thousands of cities around the world share a wide spectrum of common denominators, from garbage to biodiversity, from air pollution to sophisticated bike-path networks, or from unemployment to entrepreneurship (to mention only a sample few) it is perhaps important to examine common urban denominators...

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The Wild Beast as the Other: Framing of Urban Wildlife in Popular Imagination
Harini Nagendra,  Bangalore

India is on a rapid path to urbanisation. While currently only 30% of India’s population lives in cities, this is changing rapidly. Plans have been recently announced to build 100 new “smart cities” across India, with an ambitious plan that includes the proposed investment of 1.2 billion US dollars in...

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Seeing and Seeding the Potential of Urban Life
Richard Scott,  Liverpool

Land really is the best art. I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want. —Andy Warhol The new year is a good time to look back before looking forward: this blog offers opportunity to take stock of 2014, which was...

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Micro_Urban: The Ecological and Social Potential of Small-Scale Urban Spaces
Timon McPhearson,  New York Victoria Marshall,  Singapore

Small-scale urban spaces can be rich in biodiversity, contribute important ecological benefits for human mental and physical health (McPhearson et al., 2013), and overall help to create more livable cities. Micro_urban spaces are the sandwich spaces between buildings, rooftops, walls, curbs, sidewalk cracks, and other small-scale urban spaces that exist in...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2014
David Maddox,  New York

It’s been a great year at The Nature of Cities. The number of contributors has grown to almost 170, and we published 100+ blogs, long-form essays, and global roundtables. Most important, we’ve attracted more and more readers: in 2015 we had 170,000+ visits from 2,812 cities in 140 countries. Thank...

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Magical Thinking in the Age of Green
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

We are not in the Age of Aquarius that had brought—to some of us—radical hope about societal change and a turn toward ecology, steady state growth, and different GDP metrics, including happiness. The age was about love, unity, integrity, sympathy, harmony, understanding and trust. The Age of Aquarius was about...

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Urban Biodiversity Is Both an Educational and Public Awareness Challenge
Shuaib Lwasa,  Kampala

I write this piece from my recent experiences with young and early career researchers at my University of Makerere in Kampala. It is a graduate conference organized by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and among students are those from the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, with...

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How can art (in all its forms), exhibits, installations and provocations be a better catalyst to raise awareness, support and momentum for urban nature and green spaces? 
Jennifer Adams,  New York City Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town Marielle Anzelone,  New York City Stephanie Britton,  Byron Bay, NSW Pauline Bullen,  Harare Tim Collins,  Glasgow Emilio Fantin,  Milan Lloyd Godman,  Melbourne Julie Goodness,  Stockholm Noel Hefele,  Brooklyn Todd Lester,  Säo Paulo Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Elliott Maltby,  New York City Mary Miss,  New York City Lorenza Perelli,  Chicago Stephanie Radok,  Adelaide Lisa Terreni,  Wellington Shawn Van Sluys,  Guelph

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The Caterpillar and the Butterfly
Lesley Lokko,  Johannesburg

‘There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.’         —Buckminster Fuller Architecture | Education | Landscape | Nature It’s been six months since Sweet by Nature was penned and released into the ether and in less than a week’s time,...

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Born to be Wild (Sort of)
Paul Downton,  Melbourne

“Civilisation; it’s all about knives and forks.” —David Byrne As a child I was not nature-deprived. I lived in small towns and villages in rural Somerset in England, and enjoyed nature study in primary school but I know that I’ve never seen or experienced anything truly wild. I never will, and...

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We Should Look at Urban Nature More Through the Eyes of Children 
Ana Faggi,  Buenos Aires Jürgen Breuste,  Salzburg

Environmental perception by people is complex and dynamic. Individuals are active agents in their perceptions of nature—not passive receivers of information—while the environment is a global unity on which environmental processes within cities are based. Cognitive, interpretive and evaluative components are all incorporated into the perceptual processes of individuals. The...

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What is the meaning and role of the “sacred” in the design and management of urban green space and the building of cities that are both green and livable?
Pedro Camarena,  Mexico City Lindsay Campbell,  New York Jayne Engle,  Montreal Emilio Fantin,  Milan Mickey Fearn,  Raleigh Divya Gopal,  Berlin Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka Jimena Martignoni,  Buenos Aires Erika Svendsen,  New York Maria Tengö,  Stockholm Naomi Tsur,  Jerusalem Gavin Van Horn,  Chicago Shawn Van Sluys,  Guelph Diana Wiesner,  Bogota Kathleen Wolf,  Seattle Mary Wyatt,  Annapolis

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Lessons from Megijima: What Can the Loss of Culture Teach Us About Urban Nature?
Patrick M. Lydon,  Osaka

In terms of physical implementation, we have an endless stream of good knowledge, theory, and practice for building sustainable, nature-inclusive cities; a collection reaching back for well over a century. What’s missing, I would argue, are not methods and knowledge, but a consciousness of our relationship to the environment, one...

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The Rhythms of City Life
Madhusudan Katti,  Raleigh

A friend once told me about the time he started finding dry dog food pellets mysteriously appearing in his pockets every time he put on a freshly laundered and dried pair of pants. Dr. Will Turner had a dog, of course, and recognized the pellets as the same kind he offered his...

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Driving Social and Ecological Change: My Experiment with Guerilla Gardening
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town

Spurred on by some students who asked me earlier in the year what sort of personal activism I pursue in relation to my views around the importance of forwarding and preserving functioning urban ecologies, I decided to embark on a bit of guerilla gardening in the form of a seed...

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The Palo Verde in My Backyard
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

My view of nature in the city is often informed by my own experiences in my part of the world: Los Angeles, California.  About 5 years ago I was given a Palo Verde tree which my husband and I planted in a strategic location to provide shade and beauty in...

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Education, Communication and Mobilization: Is Urban Ecology the Way Forward for Urban Planning and Design in Brazilian cities?
Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro

Talking about biodiversity and nature in cities? If you do this in Brazil it will probably sound weird to a lot of educated people, including professionals and researchers on urban and ecological areas. And that’s exactly what I do most of the time. Actually, it is interesting how I got...

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Nature Needs Half
Lynn Wilson,  Vancouver

Nature Needs Half is a concept under consideration in the Capital Regional District (CRD)[End note 1]. Simply put, Nature Needs Half means saving fifty percent of an area’s lands and waters for nature. This concept recognizes the impact of humans upon the land, while also acknowledging that we need to...

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Graffiti on the Path and the Nature of Public Space
Paul Downton,  Melbourne

The nature of cities is inextricably tied to the nature of public space and this blog is about just a small part of that ‘nature’. It was inspired by what appeared to be graffiti on a public footpath that runs along the street where I live, in sunny Semaphore, South...

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Digging Ourselves Deeper
Andrew Rudd,  New York City

0 There’s an old saying about defecating and eating and not doing both in the same place. It is usually applied to interpersonal relations but serves just as well for industrial ones. And it is particularly relevant to mining. Certainly we don’t want to mine directly upstream of water intake sites,...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2013
David Maddox,  New York

A new vision of ecologically sophisticated cities has been gaining momentum. Today, in increasing numbers, scientists, designers, and practitioners create useful knowledge about the nature of cities through research and action that inspires public debate and decision makers. More citizens are becoming more engaged in the conversation about urban nature — a conversation...

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Lessons from a One-eyed Eagle
Bob Sallinger,  Portland

By all rights a one-eyed bald eagle is a doomed bird. Imagine trying to catch a salmon or a brush rabbit with no depth perception. Oh eagles will scavenge and occasionally steal food from one another, but roadkill and kleptoparasitism will only get you so far in life…or so the...

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What Does Urban Nature-Related Graffiti Tell Us? A Photo Essay from the City of Cape Town
Pippin Anderson,  Cape Town

Graffiti, revered and loathed by turn, provides insights into societal attitudes and perceptions. In this short photo essay I present nature-related graffiti from the City of Cape Town. Cape Town still bares the hallmarks of apartheid with significant race-based development and wealth discrepancies. It is situated in the middle of...

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A Comic Book Sparks Kids Toward Environmental Justice
Rebecca Bratspies,  New York City

In my first blog post for The Nature of Cities, I wrote about environmental justice as a bridge between traditional environmentalism and an increasingly urban global population. I suggested that we had work to do to makes environmental concerns salient to a new, ever-more urban generation. Since then, I have...

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Tuning Out / In
Andrew Rudd,  New York City

Ten years ago this month, in 2003, northeastern North America experienced the second most widespread blackout in history. That August evening, toward the end of my three-hour commute home on foot, a nearly full moon rose over the soft brownstone canyons of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Candlelit stoops hosted small, spontaneous parties...

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Barcelona—Gaudi’s City
Andre Mader,  Montreal

I am currently typing away at a hairdresser in Tarragona, in Spain, while my wife receives a pre-wedding facial. That is the reason for our presence in Spain. Our families will soon descend on a tiny village in the mountains of Catalonia, from South Africa and Japan. This background information...

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Subterranean Homesick Peregrine
Bob Sallinger,  Portland

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, I thought I would tell a story from back when the City of Portland (Oregon) first was beginning to grapple with the implications of the listing of a species found in our urban environment. In 1993 residents of the...

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Street Art, Slow Work, and Stories: Three Values for Civic Ecology Practices in Cities
Philip Silva,  New York

In cities throughout the United States, thousands of people are gearing up for another busy summer of growing vegetables in community gardens and caring for street trees planted along the sidewalk’s edge. Self-organized, volunteer-based, and focused on improving both communities and the environment, these “civic ecology” practices often pick up...

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Naming and Claiming in Cities of Nature—Why We Should Worry About Our Inability to Recognize Common Species
Tim Beatley,  Charlottesville

What we choose to name and the names we choose to remember, for the places, people and things around us, says a great deal about what is important to us. It is commonly said, and accurately so I believe, that we will not care about what we do not recognize....

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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 and socially meaningful in intensely development urban neighborhoods. Tanner Springs...

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The Cities We Want: Resilient, Sustainable, and Livable
David Maddox,  New York

Resilience is the word of the decade, as sustainability was in previous decades. No doubt, our view of the kind and quality of cities we as societies want to build will continue to evolve and inspire a new descriptive goal. Surely we have not lost our desire for sustainable cities,...

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Windows with a Biodiversity View
Lena Chan,  Singapore

Three books inspire me greatly.  They are (a) ‘Biophilia’ by E.O. Wilson, (b) ‘Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity’ by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, and (c) ‘Biophilic Cities’ by Tim Beatley. Written almost thirty years ago, the first postulated that it is imprinted in our DNA that...

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Dolphin as Metaphor for the Limits of Environmental Law
Rebecca Bratspies,  New York City

On January 25, 2013, a dolphin swam into Brooklyn, New York’s Gowanus Canal. Poor dolphin! Gowanus canal is a 1.8 mile long Superfund site—a toxic stew of pesticides, heavy metals and PCBs masquerading as “the waters of the United States” (to use the language of the Clean Water Act). A...

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Intensiveness and Extensiveness in Our Urban Landscape
Andrew Rudd,  New York City

Much of urban history has emphasized density and centrality in city form. Though some environmentalists question the sustainability of such intensive land use, recent studies have shown that urban density correlates positively with resource efficiency and reduced emissions. At the same time, innovations in transport technology have historically allowed cities...

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Urbanophilia and the End of Misanthropy: Cities Are Nature
Mary Rowe,  Toronto

Jane Jacobs titled her sixth book The Nature of Economies (Random House, 2000). In the Foreword she makes explicit her intent: “The theme running through this exposition — indeed, the basic premise on which the book is constructed — is that human beings exist wholly within nature as a legitimate part of...

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Musings on Winter’s Darkness and the Ways that Birds Brighten Urban Lives
Bill Sherwonit,  Anchorage

My enchantment began on a Saturday morning, shortly before solstice and not long after I’d moved from Anchorage’s lowlands to the city’s Hillside area. Lolling in bed, I glanced outside. And there, before me, were several black-capped chickadees flitting about a backyard spruce. Wonderful, I thought. Here’s a chance to...

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Fire Escape Red-tails
Bob Sallinger,  Portland

I blogged previously about the importance of integrating urban wildlife into our urban stories, poems, myths and culture in a piece entitled Souvlaki Coyote. Just as we integrate our built and natural environments, we must also repopulate our imaginations with images of wildlife that adhere to an urbanized context. This month...

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From Banlieue to Biophilia: Thinking About Nature as a Basis for Urban Design
Philip Silva,  New York

My second contribution to the Nature of Cities blog was scheduled to fall around that awkward moment at the start of the New Year when productivity is at its lowest ebb. Instead of sitting down to the task at my own snow-bound desk in upstate New York, I find myself...

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The Strategy of Sanderlings and the Tactics of Terrapins: What Was Hurricane Sandy Trying to Tell New York City?
Eric Sanderson,  New York

Like an ancient prophet, armed with forebodings of doom and destruction, Hurricane Sandy bore down on New York City in the early hours of 30 October, 2012.  An extra-tropical cyclone, a thousand miles wide and armed with hurricane strength winds, Sandy was only eight days old.  A fitful infant terrible,...

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Highlights from The Nature of Cities in 2012
David Maddox,  New York

Cities are ecological spaces.  But only relatively recently has this new vision of ecologically sophisticated cities gained momentum.  Today, in increasing numbers, scientists, designers, and practitioners create useful knowledge about the nature of cities through study and research that can inspire public debate and decision makers.  Thinkers imagine how to...

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No More Elsewheres
Andrew Rudd,  New York City

The frogs of suburban Nairobi Four years ago I moved to Nairobi and repaired the concrete-lined fish pond on my property. Soon thereafter the frogs appeared unbidden. Their performance generally begins with a single peep or croak and rapidly crescendos into something so dramatic and deafening that it feels more...

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Rediscovering Wildness—and Finding the “Wild Man”—in Alaska’s Urban Center
Bill Sherwonit,  Anchorage

I have been getting quite the education on “The Nature of Cities” these past few months, while taking in the perspectives of academics, ecologists, naturalists, architects and urban designers, educators, and conservationists (some contributors wearing several hats). I have been impressed—and at times overwhelmed—by the scope of research, activism, and...

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Souvlaki Coyote and other Tales of Urban Wildlife
Bob Sallinger,  Portland

Much of the fabulous writing on The Nature of Cities blog site to date has focused on integrating the built and natural environment, erasing, or at least softening the lines that separate the natural and the manmade. I would like to shift focus a bit and explore the intersection between...

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Cyborgs, Sewers, and the Sensing City
Philip Silva,  New York

Cities have long been seen as the antithesis – or, at least, the absence – of nature. Yet in recent years, environmentalists started rethinking their long-held prejudices against urban areas. The rise of neighborhood-based environmental justice movements, beginning in the 1980’s, forced us to confront the human side of pollution and...

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Reflections on Cities, Seasons and Bioregions
Stephanie Pincetl,  Los Angeles

This winter I had occasion to spend a few days in the city of Albuquerque, where it was cold, dry and brown. Winter in the Southwestern United States. Trees along the Rio Grande were bare; not too many trees elsewhere. Taking the taxi back home from the Los Angeles International...

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Introducing “The Nature of Cities”
David Maddox,  New York

Sitting in the southern end of Central Park in New York City a few weeks ago, I found myself at what is called the “Literary Walk”. Statues of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare and others decorate a cathedral of elm trees that line a wide path. It was a...

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