Island Life: Urban Habitats as Theaters for the Evolution of Biodiversity – The Nature of Cities

Posted Friday, 23 February 2018 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Island Life: Urban Habitats as Theaters for the Evolution of Biodiversity – The Nature of Cities
— Read on

A quote from the essay:

Our cities are known as centers of creativity. This usually means theater, art, and choreography. We now know that the creative acts also include modified dispersal and pollination rates, tolerance for soil pH, and leaf morphologies resistant to heat stress. Buy a ticket and get a front row seat, this new evolutionary show will knock your socks off.


Some good thoughts in this article on how the clean energy revolution really can’t be stopped now, no matter what games get played at the federal level going forward:

Posted Thursday, 1 December 2016 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

“‘Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else,’ the urban visionary Jane Jacobs wrote. ‘But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.'”

Janine Benyus: What Can Today’s Designers Learn From Nature? : NPR

Posted Wednesday, 25 May 2016 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

Biomimicry involves looking to nature to find solutions to problems that nature has already solved. But it also involves a paradigm shift in the relationship between humans and our environment. Can we do this?

Complete Streets Are a Bargain

Posted Wednesday, 15 April 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

A great look at the benefits of approaching street design from a “complete streets” perspective.


normal Uptown Normal Circle / Pinterest

Normal, Illinois, doesn’t sound like a typical spring break destination—but for me, it was the perfect getaway. Along with fellow urban planning students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I visited Normal in March 2010. We started our day with a walking tour of Uptown Normal and ended it by biking to its neighbor, Bloomington, via the Constitution Trail. The highlight of the tour was the town traffic circle (yes, a traffic circle!) called Uptown Circle, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, which is a gathering place that captures and filters stormwater and simplifies a complicated intersection. On a sunny afternoon in 2010, it was easy to see why it’s the heart of the district.

Normal invested more than $90 million in this neighborhood, spending about half of its investment ($47 million) on a Complete Streets approach that considers all users—people traveling by…

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Green Infrastructure Helps Communities Become “Climate Smart”

Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

In most of the things I have seen lately about green infrastructure, most of the emphasis has been on either stormwater management or shoreline resilience. Now, these are important, and I don’t want to minimize these issues, but the video and post below also point how how other aspects of green infrastructure can help make cities resilient to other aspects of climate change. Check it out!


At the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore, a panel of experts called for using green infrastructure to make communities “climate smart,” which can boost their resilience to natural disasters.

According to Breece Robertson, the Trust for Public Land’s geographic information systems (GIS) director, climate-smart cities use green infrastructure in four ways (see a brief video above). They create “safe, interconnected opportunities to walk or bike; cool down the city by planting trees and creating parks; absorb stormwater to save energy and recharge aquifers; and protect cities through green shorelines.”

In a pilot study with New York City government, Columbia University, and Drexel University on how to use green infrastructure to protect New York City’s waterfront, the team created a GIS data tool to model priorities. According to Robertson, the models found that “green buffers really do improve resilience.”

Pete Wiley, an economist with the NOAA’s office for…

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Love your Wetlands: World Wetlands Day!

Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 by Brian
Categories: uncategorized

I’m a couple of days late sharing this, but this is a great reminder on the importance of wetlands. Happy (Belated) World Wetlands Day!

The Essential Current

World Wetlands Day banner

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on this day marking the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on the 2nd of February 1971.

Ramsar global map Ramsar, Iran

World Wetlands Day is often celebrated by taking action to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits. Government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups alike use World Wetlands Day for promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

The Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation of wetlands. The Ramsar Convention was initially made to promote efforts toward the conservation of Waterfowl habitat, however it was soon broadened to encompass the protecting the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value.

There are currently 2,186 Ramsar sites in the world, with a surface total…

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2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

Posted Tuesday, 28 October 2014 by Brian
Categories: environment, politics, sustainability

If it’s not one thing, it’s another keeping me from sitting down and really ramping up this blogging thing. However, this was too important to pass up at least a quick reblog.

Environmental and sustainability issues are in many ways inherently political. While there is a lot that all of us can do to move things in the right direction, making sure we are represented by people who understand the need to debate the options and take action is vital. (Yes, I know many of us think that the whole system here in the USA is broken to at least some degree, but that’s a post for another day. Maybe.) I have seen a meme floating around that I think summarizes my thoughts on voting fairly succinctly: “Not voting is not a statement; it is surrender.” (I might not have that exactly right, but it’s close. If I can find an attribution for this, I’ll update this post with the information.) I’m preparing to vote, are you?

The Blog


Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

For our part, we want to provide our US-based users a set of resources to help them make a smart, informed decision when it comes to who they will vote for. We also want to provide a toolkit so that they can get more information on where to…

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