- Politics and Social Issues
Loving Nature... in the City
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.
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.
Nature in the Windy City? This brochure shows you the sites, and gives you some contact information.
- San Fransisco
An advocacy group, and a lot of resources -- for those in San Fransisco
Orlando shows you how to garden a little greener.
Baltimore program for helping elementary kids discover nature within their city.
- Oklahoma City
A wilderness sanctuary in Oklahoma City.
- New York City
Even New York City -- for many, the epitome of urban -- has wilderness
- Portland, Oregon
This is from Portland's parks and recreation, but it's not just about parks. Look for links to community garden's and more.
"No child left inside," they proclaim.
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.