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Loving Nature... in the City

Updated on April 26, 2013

A Changing Concept of Nature

Earth Day is upon us again, and I am in an eight story apartment looking out across an alley and more tall buildings. It's not exactly an I-love-the-earth scenario -- or is it?

A mile away to the north is a restored creek in a primordial fern-lined ravine. And to the west, marshes line a portion of Lake Washington. The city can afford environmentally friendly living. When we build up, we don't have to build outward.

When I was a child, I assumed rural lands were earth-friendly ones. When I was an adult, I began to read books that changed my mind. There are so many advantages to smaller properties, taller buildings, and denser populations. People drive less. Less land is cleared. The tall buildings render sprawl unnecessary. In its own way, the creek depends on the skyscraper.

And just because you live in a city, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy nature, or teach your kids to. The large lot gives a kid a chance to climb trees and plant a garden -- ah, but at what cost? The erosion of real nature. You can be a nature-loving kid, or adult (or adult kid) in the city. And that's what most of this page is about! There's green in the city. You can find it hiding, or you can cultivate it yourself.

Note: All pictures on this page are from my personal collection. The image here is from my family photos.

Nature in my City: Ravenna Park - A homemade video...and some thoughts on instilling a love of nature

I took the pictures in this little video clip in nearby Ravenna Park and set them to "Coming Back Home to You". Yes, this primordial wilderness park is just a mile away from the urban scene that I described at the beginning of this page! You can see a little sign about wetlands conservation in one screen.

Seattle has more parks than most cities -- and yet you might be surprised what you find if you get to know the parks in your city.

And if you want to teach your child to appreciate the nature around her, you might try getting her a camera and letting her capture it. Let her see the world through a lens! You can even upload the pictures to Animoto and create a musical video of the land around you. (An added bonus: digital products tend to be eco-friendly!)

This Place on Earth

This Place on Earth, written by a Seattle-ite, is an introduction to the Pacific Northwest... and to the environmental choices we all make in our daily lives. I first read it before I came to Seattle. It was fascinating to reread it once I knew the places described in the book.

I disagree with the author on one point. He says that when a place reached the density of First Hill, it becomes more environmental as people can shed their cars. The problem with Seattle's First Hill is that it's mostly tall apartment buildings. You'll be hard pressed to find a grocery store or other amenities of daily life. Capitol Hill and the U-District are not as dense, but they combine residential areas with just about every type of building a person could want in their neighborhood. Dense is good, but multi-purpose neighborhoods draw people in.

I have never driven, and the transportation system is a part of what draws me to urban life. But even if you're used to driving, in a major metropolitan area, you may be able to go without a set of wheels. At the least, you can probably eliminate trips. In Seattle, some couples share a car... and a bus pass.

This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence
This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence

Part memoir and part exploration of environmental issues.


Nature in my City: Seattle Blue - Overlooking the Beach at Discovery Park

Discovery Park is Seattle's largest and most famous wilderness park. You'll find very different terrain as you travel from one part to another. Sometimes you're in the woods; sometimes you're at the seashore.

Nature in your City: Resources

Here are links to nature in the city resources from around the country. Maybe you'll find something to explore in yours.

A Greener Detroit

Green lands springing up in a city known for manufacturing? Yes! It looks like Detroit is growing green as well.

Seattle U-District P-Patch - My neighborhood has a P-Patch -- a community garden.

Urban Gardening: The Window Box

You can grow plants when you don't have one iota of yard -- and when you don't have a lot of extra floor space in your apartment!

The Urban/ Suburban Garden

The cabin in the woods may well be eco-friendly, but not the lawn in suburbia. Now suppose have a hankering to go green in suburbia. You can make the lawn more eco-friendly by planting edible things. This will work in the country, city, or suburbs... so long as the neighborhood association doesn't mind. (But perhaps that's what walled backyards are for?) From Cleveland, Ohio, here's a look at the urban garden.

Did You Stop By?

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    • StewartClan profile image

      StewartClan 5 years ago

      This is a really inspiring lens, I like the idea of making more of the green spaces we have. Thanks for your hard work in building it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Living in the city and being kind to the earth go together well, my view is of buildings too but there are wonderful parks and natural areas as well to enjoy. I've been hearing about more people growing more edibles in the city and making good use of their green space and making it greener. Congratulations on being honored as one of the best of Squidloo on the 2012 Earth Day Monster Board. I particularly enjoyed your photos.

    • GrowthSpark profile image

      GrowthSpark 5 years ago

      Lots of lovely ideas here, many thanks.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 5 years ago

      I did stop by and enjoyed my visit! We can indeed enjoy nature just about anywhere. I would love to visit your part of the country one day. Angel blessed.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Growing your own vegetable and fruits is very healthy, and not that complicates as look like.

      Very good lens, living in the city... must be compensated with some time in nature.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't really know Seattle but I like being with nature.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      We replaced our lawn with a secluded garden. There are a few fruit trees and lots of herbs. Many of our neighbors are doing the same thing. Seattle is beautiful -- I remember seeing many lush gardens when I visited.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Thanks for introducing me to your neighborhood! Looks like a great place to live! Wonderful lens!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      A fascinating lens - well done! Happy Earth Day!

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with rlmodranski, as a country dweller, I find we do all the same things she said, go to town when necessary, probably spend less, because life is less about city entertainment like shopping, theater and movies etc... Nice Lense

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      I would love to visit some of these parks and will keep in mind when traveling to check out some of the city parks. Thanks for the inspiration! Angel Blessed!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Great ideas for city dwellers.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Some great ideas for city dwellers-nice lens! :>)

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      Lovely lens!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I live across the water from Seattle now but lived for many years on the edge of downtown Seattle. I love this article and the many places you mention that I know about and have visited. I lived for over 6 years without a car while living on the edges of Seattle so it is very possible. Great article! :)

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 6 years ago

      I was raised in a country setting, but live in the city now. There is plenty of green, view of trees, and many birds come to my bird feeders, so it's been enough country for me, for 20 years. Lovely lens idea!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Liked your lense alot. If I had my way, I'd have no grass, just greenery. Gardens and such and no lawn to mow. But, I dream.

      N T T

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 6 years ago from Ohio

      I grew up on a farm. Now I live in a single family LARGE dwelling in a small urban setting. I think I'd suffocate in an apartment (I feel pretty confined on my 1/2 a city lot). I would have to agree, the building up instead of out is probably very good for the ecosystem; however, I've discovered that even though cars don't travel as FAR in the city, they travel more often. In the country, I seldom went anyplace but work and did any errands on my way home. In the city, I go to work, then come home, then back out to the grocery, then home, then out to eat . . . you get the picture and it seems the same with most people. There is no "night life" in the country (unless you count chasing fireflies). So I think the "emmissions" probably equals out. At any rate, I love the beauty of nature and am blessed to enjoy it!