From city to wilderness

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Interestingly, in Russia many cities end abruptly into wilderness. Forest begins right after you leave densely built urban areas. There are few suburbs similar to what you see in the U.S. Below is a photo that I took a few weeks ago from my window facing east in one of my hometowns (Tomsk, Siberia, Russia), a city of half million residents. The temperature is -40 degrees, birch trees. The apartment is on the fifth floor, and this is the last building on our street. The wilderness begins right behind the building. The second photo is from the same apartment, but from another window in the opposite direction looking west. I think in Russia and the U.S. people have distinct approaches to how cities and suburbs should be developed.

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Urban EE framework

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What is urban environmental education? Let’s take a look at what the literature says. Read our recent literature review.

Kudryavtsev A., Krasny M. (2012). Urban environmental education: preliminary literature review. Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab, Ithaca, NY.

DOWNLOAD (PDF file): 2012-UEE-review.pdf

California Academy of Science: green roof

This is perhaps one of the most impressive green roofs I have seen. California Academy of Science in San Francisco is an advanced, cutting-edge green building. Above their rainforest dome and planetarium, they constructed a green roof covered by native plants. From an observation terrace you can take a look at the roof, which resembles the topography of San Francisco. Interpretive signage informs you that the roof absorbs rainwater and provides a wildlife corridor. Construction of green roofs is quite expensive, but they have a great deal of educational value – whether the roof is to preserve native vegetation or to grow vegetables such as at a rooftop farm in Queens (http://urbanee.org/2011/07/30/rooftop-farm).

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Sense of place: survey

Do you conduct environmental education, stewardship, or restoration programs? Then you may be want to explore the effect of your program on sense of place among participants. Some researchers view sense of place as part of human well-being, and showed the relationship between sense of place and pro-environmental behavior. The video below discusses the sense of place survey.

Nature University

Nature University, a summer camp program organized by New York Restoration Project.

Narrator: Omari Washington. Videography: Alex Kudryavtsev. New York City, 2011.

Urban Farm at the Battery

“This is the first urban farm at the Battery since the Dutch planted their cottage gardens in New Amsterdam in 1625,” says the farm’s website. This new garden is located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, a place known for ferries that run from here to Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty. Wall Street and Stock Exchange are just a few steps away. Today I have observed high school students from a transfer school volunteering in the garden, picking up vegetables, and helping with a new farmstand selling fresh produce. Hundreds of tourists pass by every hour, many of them make it to the garden, which is open for everyone. I think that most visitors are amazed like I am by the combination of surrounding skyscrapers and this urban farm with its smell of tomato leaves, compost, wet soil, and lavender.

Satellite Academy Eco-Leaders Program

Field trips to various urban environmental sites is one of the methods that Carol Kennedy uses to teach high school students in the Bronx, New York City. For example, in summer students are rowing on the Bronx River, taking water samples, and interviewing practitioners about rooftop gardens. Carol says, “My philosophy and my approach to teaching is to give the students a wide range of experiences that they would not normally have with the natural world in the urban environment – so that they can form a new view of the world and a new identity.” Watch this video to learn more: