WBEZ | Nature http://www.wbez.org/tags/nature Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EcoMyths: You Don't Need a Car to see Nature http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Car to Nature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-099f-5473-bdc3-171ceaca3dfa">Even though at times, cities and nature seem to be at odds, EcoMyths Alliance believes the two are not as disconnected as they may seem. For our EcoMyths segment, Kate Sackman will tell us why city-dwellers, with an itch to experience the wilderness, can do so without using a car. Joining her are John Cawood, education program coordinator for Openlands and Gil Penalosa, founder and board chair of 8 80 Cities.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216769748&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Myth: You Have to Drive to Nature</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do You Need Four Wheels and a Steering Wheel to Get to Nature?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">City is often pitted against nature: Concrete jungle vs. forest or prairie. Civilization vs. wilderness. Shops and museums vs. dirt and, well, more dirt. But are cities as disconnected from nature as they seem? Must city-dwellers with an itch to experience wilderness rely on four-wheeled motorized vehicles to reach it?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Though many of our urban areas were built to accommodate car culture (ahem, Los Angeles), open, natural space really can be just a walk, bike, or bus ride away in cities from Chicago to Bogotá.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">To help chart the sometimes surprising points of access, we chatted with</span><a href="http://880cities.org/index.php/services/gil-s-keynote"> Gil Penalosa</a>, PhD, of Toronto-based<a href="http://880cities.org/index.php"> 8 80 Cities</a>, an organization dedicated to creating more accessible, walkable cities that are planned around people rather than cars, and<a href="http://www.openlands.org/john-cawood?page_id=32"> John Cawood</a>, M.S., of<a href="http://www.openlands.org/who-we-are"> Openlands</a>, a Chicago-based nonprofit that unites people and nature.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reality Check: You Don&#39;t Have to Go to the Grand Canyon to See Nature</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s be clear: even in cities, nature is generally not that far to begin with.</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2013/05/kids-access-to-nature/"> You really can find evidence of it all around</a>, from the shady tree across the street and migratory bird swooping overhead, to the rich biodiversity that exists along the banks of many urban creeks. But what about those times when you want to get someplace more open and expansive than your own front sidewalk?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Thanks to thoughtful city planning and conservation efforts working to preserve and link open space, large swaths of nature often abound in and around cities. Often, it&#39;s just a matter of learning where they are&mdash;and how to take advantage of existing biking and walking trails as well as public transit to get to them.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">So, where are these urban gifts of Mama Earth? &quot;Nature isn&rsquo;t always obvious in urban areas,&quot; says Cawood. &quot;But wherever you live, there are public lands that have been set aside specifically as places for people to engage in nature &ndash; forest preserves and city parks most notably, but many community gardens and school gardens are also open to the public.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">For expansive natural landscape, he sees Chicago as a great example of a gateway. A bevvy of trails from the Chicago park system and the virtually uninterrupted 18.5 mile Lakefront Trail to the Grand Illinois trail provide picturesque space for walking, biking, sailing, investigating bugs, unicycling, what have you.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In fact, he adds, one of the top birding locations in the country is just a brief walk away from one of the busiest intersections in the city&#39;s Uptown neighborhood. &quot;It&rsquo;s known as &#39;The Magic Hedge,&#39; a natural area at Montrose point, which happens to be a favorite stop for migrating birds along the flyway from Canada to South America&mdash;more than 320 species have been identified there!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Examples like these bode well for city-dwellers, because boatloads of evidence indicates that</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2011/12/ecomyth-getting-outside-is-fun-but-not-fundamental/"> nature is good for you</a>. So, how can we get to these local and regional treasures? Let us count the ways, via bike, foot, or transit&mdash;in Chicago and beyond.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Bike or Walk It, Baby!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Creating more access to nature via biking or walking is a vital part of 8 80&#39;s vision, which sees nature as essential to the wellbeing of 8-year-olds </span>and 80-year-olds alike&mdash;aka the &quot;indicator species&quot; of a community&#39;s health.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">It all starts with making it easier for people to bike or walk safely around their neighborhoods. For example, with Penalosa&#39;s help,</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/walking-cycling-arti/learning-from-bogota.pdf"> Bogotá</a> now closes over 75 miles of roads to cars every single Sunday, allowing 1.5 million people to ride their bikes throughout the city. There are also 185 miles of fully sheltered bikeways throughout the Colombian capital.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;The idea is to rethink the streets as public spaces,&quot; he says, &quot;The streets can have different uses according to the time of the day, the day of the week, of the year.&quot; From New York to San Francisco, from Paris to Toronto, cities are taking up this rallying cry in innovative new ways, closing roads, reducing speed limits, or limiting traffic to downtown.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Copenhagen is another excellent example of a bike-friendly city, Penalosa observes. Sure, it&#39;s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and it rains all the time. &quot;Nevertheless, 41 out of 100 trips are done on bikes. Here in the U.S., cities like Portland are also working toward becoming more walkable and bikeable.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do all these bike-friendly initiatives actually get you closer to expansive nature? Why, yes, they often do. A quick survey of</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Google Maps</a> shows many cities&#39; bike maps are up to date, and you can use it to zoom out to see green areas you&#39;d like to get to using bike routes.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, valuable local resources exist on a city-by-city basis. For example, the Chicago Department of Transportation updates the city&#39;s</span><a href="http://www.chicagobikes.org/pdf/chicagomap_en_combined.pdf"> bike map</a> annually, and inexpensive<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/stations"> bike rental stations</a> are now ubiquitous throughout the city, with user-friendly bike maps and tips available via app.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Transit to Trails: Next Stop, Nature!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Public transportation doesn&#39;t just connect you from neighborhood to work to nightlife. In many cities, complex networks of buses and trains connect to rich nature areas in sometimes surprising ways.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s take a look at Chicago, with Cawood&#39;s help. Here, public transit provides access to dozens of natural areas outside the city limits. Consider: &quot;At the Millennium Station, you can jump on the South Shore train for a day trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. At Ogilvie, take the Union Pacific North train to the Fort Sheridan stop, from which the</span><a href="http://www.openlands.org/openlands-lakeshore-preserve"> Openlands Lakeshore Preserve</a>, a certified Illinois Natural area, is a 10-minute walk.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Wanna skip town in a bigger way? &quot;For an ambitious nature-based vacation, reserve a seat on Amtrak&rsquo;s Empire Builder train, which stops in</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Glacier National Park</a>. The Amtrak system also connects Chicago with other major transit hubs that happen to be gateways to nature as well &ndash; cities like Denver, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, Flagstaff, Portland, and San Francisco. No automobile necessary!&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cawood&#39;s a big fan of training it to nature. &quot;On a train you can multi-task. You are shuttled from point A to point B while you sleep, work, read, watch a movie, or have a nice conversation with someone. It&rsquo;s even legal to text while you are on the train!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">California&#39;s Bay Area, is another interesting example of how public transit can connect some of the most building-bound folks out there to beautiful wilderness areas inside and just outside the city. Case in point: there&#39;s a municipal bus stop at the entrance to the expansive 2,500-acre Wildcat Canyon (pictured left-TK). Yep, just a 30-minute bus ride outta Oakland turns up an epic hike, complete with sweeping views of the bay and cities below.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">How to find said access points? In California,</span><a href="http://www.transitandtrails.org/"> Transit and Trails</a> provides detailed maps and schedules for public transportation options to outdoor recreation areas across the country. In Illinois,<a href="http://animaliaproject.org/t2t/"> Transit to Trails</a> is a project underway to make it easier to figure out which train and bus systems connect to which natural areas.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cool Reclaimed Spaces Connect Us to Nature, too</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Making room for bikes on trains and existing roads is important&mdash;but it&#39;s not all that&#39;s happening in the way of connecting people to nature. Cities and orgs are working to convert areas of otherwise wasted space into cool places for the community to stretch their legs and their perspectives&mdash;a notion that 8 80 dubs Hidden Assets.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The</span><a href="http://www.thehighline.org/"> High Line</a> is a high-profile example [KATE: DO you have pics from your visit there?]. In Manhattan, this 1.45-mile stretch of abandoned elevated train tracks was converted into an aerial park, covered with colorful and sustainable<a href="http://www.thehighline.org/High_Line_Plant_List.pdf"> plants</a> and proving a hugely popular walking path.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reclaiming these unused train tracks is what the</span><a href="http://www.railstotrails.org/"> Rails-to-Trails Conservancy</a> program is all about, with a vision that calls for creating trails within three miles of every home in the U.S. By transforming unused rail lines into vibrant public places, the goal is to connect its current roster of 30,000 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails to a nationwide network.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Close! But There&#39;s Still Work to Do</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">While many cities are making great progress on the march to becoming more livable communities, there are still places where it can be tougher to get someplace beautiful. For example, in LA, only a third of school kids have a park within walking distance (a quarter mile), according to the</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-no-place-to-play.pdf"> Trust for</a> Public Lands. That&#39;s especially dismal when you compare to other big cities, like Boston, which reaches 97 percent of the city&rsquo;s children, and NYC&#39;s 91 percent.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;We need to have nature everywhere in cities&mdash;within walking or biking distance, but also right outside your front door, in schoolyards, in city halls,&quot; says Penalosa. &quot;And when you want to go further, you should be able to use public transit.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;It&#39;s about changing habits around the built environment. How do we want to build our cities? The human population is growing quickly. According to the U.S. Census, the nation&#39;s population will grow by 100 million people in the next 35 years. That means the U.S. needs to build around 40 million homes. How are they being built? Is everyone having all their basic needs within a 10-minute walking distance or do they have to drive everywhere just because they want to buy eggs or milk? Not only do we have to improve the communities we have today, but we also need to create great communities for these millions of new people who are going to be in the same space in the next 40 years.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In other words, while cities like Chicago and Bogota are doing a great job, and ambitious nonprofit organizations are working tirelessly to connect the dots, there is yet work to be done.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Why Bother?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The pros of improving access to nature are extensive. As we rely less on cars and more on feet and bike wheels, we&#39;ll all be healthier. We&#39;ll experience less noise and stress. Air quality will improve.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">And, as Cawood points out, as more people experience nature, more people decide it&#39;s worth their while to make eco-friendlier choices, too, whether by supporting conservation work or opting for earth-friendly products at the store.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;Environmentally, by biking or taking public transit, you are impacting social norms,&quot; Cawood explains. &quot;If you do it, your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors might be more likely to try it out. If it catches on, you&rsquo;re taking cars off the road, which conserves fossil fuels and essentially cleans the air.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, money. Penalosa says there&#39;s a potentially staggering impact on personal income for those who decide to go full throttle with car-free living. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we walk, bike and take public transit instead. With AAA stats reporting average expenses for having a car tally up to about $8,500 every year, that&#39;s kinda like winning the Lottery, when you think about it&hellip;but with way better odds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Pretty decent perks, when you consider all you wanted was to stretch your legs and get a nice view of nature, huh?</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Myth Outcome: Myth partially busted</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In many cities, you don&#39;t need a car to get to nature&mdash;you just need your feet, a bike, or ticket to ride public transit</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Still, there are many ways we could improve access and provide better connecting points to places both within city limits and further afoot.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">One Green Thing</span>:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Ride your bike to a pretty nature spot this weekend. (Hint: Try using Google Maps or</span><a href="http://www.traillink.com/"> Trail Link</a> to identify the route.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">But wait, there&#39;s more, says Penalosa! &quot;Some people may say, &#39;oh I don&#39;t care about environment or health&hellip;What&#39;s in it for me?&#39;&quot; A potentially staggering impact on personal income, for one thing. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we instead walk, bike and take public transit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">What would we do with all that cash if we weren&#39;t spending it </span>every single year on transportation? His suggestions: We could spend it on education, or special experiences with our family&mdash;and that can in turn help boost the local economy, as we spend money on things like going out to eat or improving our gardens instead of on cars built in some far-off locale.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">RESOURCES</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://http://www.railstotrails.org/">Rails to Trails Conservancy</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.traillink.com/">&nbsp;http://www.traillink.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/">&nbsp;http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf">&nbsp;http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/">&nbsp;https://www.divvybikes.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.openlands.org/eco-explorations">Eco-Explorations</a> program and the new<a href="http://www.openlands.org/birds-in-my-neighborhood"> Birds in my Neighborhood</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html">&nbsp;http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;2006<a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-health-benefits-parks.pdf"> report</a> by the Trust for Public Land</p></p> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 Morning Shift: Information age, climate change affecting architectural trends http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-06-26/morning-shift-information-age-climate-change-affecting <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/clarkmaxwell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212098804&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Information age, climate change affecting architectural trends</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">As work and learning environments become increasingly collaborative, architecture is shifting to reflect the change. John Ronan, the founding principal and lead designer at <a href="http://www.jrarch.com/">John Ronan Architects</a> in Chicago, is here with us to talk about this, and other trends.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/johnjronan">John Ronan</a> is the founding principal and lead designer at <a href="http://www.jrarch.com/#/contact">John Ronan Architects</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-06-26/morning-shift-information-age-climate-change-affecting EcoMyths: 'Can we save seeds for Doomsday?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 <p><p>While some seeds appear immortal, most seeds don&#39;t last forever&mdash;unless they&#39;re carefully stored in seed banks or, in some cases, preserved in liquid nitrogen or as part of living collections. This is critical because many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species. We&rsquo;ll do &#39;Seed Banking 101&#39; with Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance, Murphy Westwood, Tree Conservation Specialist at <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/">The Morton Arboretum</a> and Global Tree Conservation officer for Botanic Gardens Conservation International <a href="https://www.bgci.org/">(BGCI)</a> and Kayri Havens, director of Plant Science and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is also a hands-on seed banker in the Garden&#39;s <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/research/conservation_and_restoration/seed_banking">Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank</a>.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207340836&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Seed banking 101</strong></p><p>Seeds don&#39;t last forever. If they&#39;re not stored in precise conditions, they generally cannot be germinated at a future date. Most seeds are <strong>orthodox</strong> seeds, meaning they can be stored for longs periods of time if handled correctly. Typically they are dehydrated and frozen in seed banks like the one at Chicago Botanic Garden, which has committed to collecting 30 million seeds from 1,500 native species across the Midwest, and the <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank">Millennium Seed Bank</a> Partnership at the Kew Gardens in London, which has stored 13 percent of the world&rsquo;s plant diversity, with close to <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank-partnership/about-millennium-seed-bank-partnership">2 billion</a> seeds.</p><p><em>Quick basic rundown, from the CBG: </em>To bank seeds, researchers first collect them from the entirety of the species&rsquo; range. Then they&#39;re x-rayed to prevent bugs from making their way into the collection and to be sure the seed houses an embryo. They&#39;re then stored in subzero temperatures. After they&#39;ve gone in the storage jar, they&#39;ll only come out every 10 years or so, to be retested for germination potential.</p><p>&ldquo;If they are taken care of and processed correctly, seeds can live centuries in suspended animation,&rdquo; Havens explains.</p><p><strong>Some seeds cannot be banked &ndash; these are called recalcitrant seeds</strong></p><p>Many trees, from the oak to the avocado, produce seeds that for a variety of reasons cannot be stored in the same way as orthodox seeds. To preserve these, institutions like the Morton Arboretum utilize two strategies: one is a living collection, where they plant as many species as possible to ensure seeds are safe in the long haul. The other is to preserve seeds in liquid nitrogen. Because plants have <a href="http://biology.kenyon.edu/HHMI/Biol113/meristems.htm">meristem</a> cells (kind of like human stem cells), it&#39;s also possible to regenerate a plant from a liquid-nitrogen-preserved oak bud, in a process called micro-propagation or tissue culture.</p><p><strong>Why bother? </strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="195" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EcoMyths-Saving%20Seeds%20BLOG.jpg" style="float: right;" title="A guard armed with a rifle stands guard in Longyearbyen, Norway, outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which has been described as Noah's Seed Ark and a Doomsday Vault, was dug into a mountainside in Norway's arctic Svalbard islands. It will hold 4.5 million different agricultural seed samples from around the world. (AP Photo/John McConnico)" width="356" />Because we&#39;re starting the world&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/">sixth mass extinction</a>, many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species, to be exact. Diseases like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/ded/">Dutch Elm Disease</a>, <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/fungus-threatens-top-banana-1.14336">banana-killing fungi</a>, and insect pests like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/eab/">Emerald Ash Borer</a> are also threatening plants. Species loss in turn has a direct impact on day-to-day life: a genetically <a href="http://www.nps.gov/plants/restore/pubs/restgene/1.htm">diverse seed supply</a> helps us avoid potentially losing a bunch of food crops. (Examples: the <a href="http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/agriculture_02">Potato Famine</a><u> of the 1840s</u>, the corn blight <a href="http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/Seeds_for_Our_Future.pdf">in the 1970&rsquo;s in the U.S</a><u>.</u>, which wiped out almost 15 percent of the nation&#39;s corn, mostly because of the genetic similarity of the corn planted.</div><p>If we don&rsquo;t preserve healthy seeds in the near term, we could be saying goodbye to lots of plants we know and love in the long run.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>Plant a fresh native tree seedling in your backyard. You&#39;ll be supporting plant diversity with your mini living collection, while scoring the host of other ecosystem benefits there are to planting trees.</p><p><strong><em>More ways to help:</em></strong></p><ul><li><em>Visit a living collection or seed bank.</em> These beautiful institutions help to ensure that future generations have the safety net of genetically diverse plants we all know and love: <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org">Morton Arboretum</a>, <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org">Chicago Botanic Garden</a>, <a href="http://www.montgomerybotanical.org">Montgomery Botanic Gardens</a>, and the <a href="http://www.fairchildgarden.org">Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens</a>, <a href="http://www.nybg.org/">New York Botanical Garden</a>, and <a href="http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/">Missouri Botanical Garden</a>.</li><li><em>Bank your own!</em> The Chicago Botanic Garden has some cool tips <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/saving_seeds">here</a>.</li><li><em>Plant seeds in optimal growing conditions: </em>Every seed counts, so give the ones in your garden the best shot at life. This includes opting for native plants, which are uniquely suited to your region&#39;s climate.</li></ul></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 EcoMyths: 'Am I too busy to care for Nature?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Too Busy to Care.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e435-a786-2000-ec52a15fc8cb">With our busy lives, caring for the environment can seem overwhelming, but <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> says that being more green takes less time and effort than you may think. For this months<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em> EcoMyths</em></a> segment, we ask two experts to help bust the myth that you&rsquo;re &ldquo;too busy to care for Nature&rdquo;. Kevin Ogorzalek of the <a href="http://www.humansandnature.org/">Center for Humans and Nature</a> and John Barrett with the <a href="http://http://www.brushwoodcenter.org/index.html">Brushwood Center</a> at Ryerson Woods, will tell us how doing just a little, every day, makes a huge difference.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200816449&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e437-56ea-31f9-018b3cc87cfd">Most of us do actively care for nature &ndash; we just don&#39;t necessarily recognize or celebrate it. We already show we care in obvious ways, such as by volunteering at nature centers or donating to a cause, but also in smaller daily activities, like going outside to read a book in the park, or choosing a microbead-free face wash at the store.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>It&#39;s a significant sign of caring that, for example:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as a leisure activity:<a href="http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/faqs.htm"> 292 million people visited our national parks in 2014</a>, while<a href="http://www.waza.org/en/site/zoos-aquariums"> 700 million people showed curiosity about wildlife by visiting global zoos and aquariums</a></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as consumers: A 2014 survey by<a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html"> Nielsen</a> found that 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring at home: Eg: the growing trend to<a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/bqlywujwzz4sx05/NGASpecialReport-Garden-to-Table.pdf"> grow our own veggies</a> (35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in five years, according to National Gardening Association 2014 report); Meatless Mondays campaigns are now active in<a href="http://www.meatlessmonday.com/the-global-movement/"> 36 countries</a>; and Bicycle Friendly Communities, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Denver and Lexington, Ky., have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000, according to the<a href="http://bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuting-data"> League of American Bicyclists</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The trick is overcoming busyness as usual: Being too busy for X is a sign of our times&mdash;but it only takes a second to think to yourself, &quot;if I do X or Y One Green Thing, that has an impact on the environment over time.&quot; That step-wise approach to green thinking can be tough to start, but once you get in the habit, it becomes routine.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>So What? </strong></p><p dir="ltr">Consciously caring about nature may seem insignificant, but the more we &nbsp;recognize our personal connection to nature, the more likely we are to make a positive difference.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring inspires action, conscious or not: Caring is a catalyst for behavior. For example, turning off the lights is an easy daily action that illustrates caring. It doesn&#39;t necessarily take time to integrate that with things you already do in daily life &ndash; it just takes making a conscious choice.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Conscious discussion can inspire movements. The transcendentalist poets in 19th century caused a ripple effect on the way our society relates to nature: Thoreau and Emerson talking about writings of nature, inspired John Muir, whose writing celebrated wilderness protection, the spaces themselves which inspired Ansel Adams, who in turn took photos that captured the country&#39;s imagination.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Going further. Turning caring into greater action can mean varying degrees of sacrifice. But caring enough to make a short-term sacrifice, like paying a little more now for renewable energy to get to the point where it actually costs less than fossil fuels has potential for greater payback than meets the eye. Turning &quot;simple actions&quot; that we used to do by rote into more meaningful actions can be a source of pride.</p><p dir="ltr">People care for nature in ways big and small in their daily lives, often without thinking about it at all&hellip;The more we can celebrate how we do care, the more we can work those conscious changes into our lives to affect even greater change.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This Earth Day, take a moment to think about ways in which your daily actions demonstrate care for the environment.</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 Morning Shift: Beasts of Bedtime finds environmental themes in Children’s books http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-09/morning-shift-beasts-bedtime-finds-environmental-threats-children <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Erik%20Daniel%20Drost.jpg" style="height: 358px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Erik Daniel Drost" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195014127&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">IDOT Jane Byrne Interchange&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Phase two of the Jane Byrne Interchange project will begin Tuesday and with it, delays for commuters. We talk with Illinois Department of Transportation&#39;s Carson Quinn on what to expect next. And WBEZ&#39;s Jill Egan weighs in. For updates throughout the project, check <a href="http://www.circleinterchange.org/">here.</a></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.northlakeshoredrive.org/contact_media.html">Carson Quinn</a> is a spokesperson for <a href="https://twitter.com/idot_illinois">IDOT</a>.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="https://twitter.com/jilleganchicago">Jill Egan</a> is a WBEZ traffic reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195014119&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Beasts of Bedtime finds environmental themes in Children&rsquo;s books</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Nature, and our relationship to it, is a common theme in literature. There are stories of how important the land and animals are to the ecosystem, but what about when humans threaten the future health of our world? Environmental scientist Liam Heneghan has turned to the classic children&rsquo;s canon to tap into lessons of nature&rsquo;s importance, and how climate change and other dangers could shift our ecological future. Heneghan explains how to get young readers tapped into this message, while not scaring them about the harsh realities that face Mother Earth. Heneghan has compiled these lessons in the forthcoming book Beasts at Bedtime: Revealing the Embedded Environmental Curriculum in Classic Children&rsquo;s Literature.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/DublinSoil">Liam Heneghan</a> is a professor and Chairman of the Environmental Science and Studies department at DePaul University.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195014116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Slow Planes</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/slowplanes">Slow Planes</a> create music that uses traditional folk sounds that build patient, ritual rhythms out of guitar, banjo, brass, violin, drum, percussion, and voice. Taking influence from American improvisation and classical minimalism, the six musicians create primitive dance music and engaging, hypnotic landscapes. They play a show this Friday at <a href="https://twitter.com/ConstellationCh">Constellation</a> but not before a Morning Shift preview.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://slowplanes.bandcamp.com/releases">Slow Planes</a> is a Chicago-based band.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 07:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-09/morning-shift-beasts-bedtime-finds-environmental-threats-children Wildsounds: The conversation between a city and nature http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/wildsounds.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When environmental science professor Liam Heneghan moved to Chicago, he noticed something surprising.</p><p>The farther he got away from the city, the harder it was to find interesting habitats to study, because there was just a lot of farmland.&nbsp; He found less of the protected forest preserves or even parks you see inside the city limits.</p><p>&ldquo;Strangely, Chicago is the place you go, that you deliberately seek out if you want to do conservation in the midwest.&rdquo; Heneghan said. &ldquo;That blows my mind.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />So when Heneghan discovered a project that set out to record nature sounds across the world, he wanted to make sure cities were a part of it.&nbsp; He has been recording, alongside his students, in Chicago for about a year.</p><p>By listening to nature sounds in the city, researchers have learned the complex way that human noise makes animals change the way they sound; from insects that shift their pitch to be heard over traffic, to birds that sing at different times of day.</p><p>But Heneghan does not want the message of the recordings to be that people sounds are bad. He wants this project to help the rest of Chicago have that same experience he did when he first moved here.</p><p>When they listen, he wants them to notice how much nature is right here &mdash; outside their apartments and office buildings, beside highways and train lines.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 EcoMyths: We can experience nature and art together http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-we-can-experience-nature-and-art-together-110675 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ecomyths.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> says: &ldquo;Too often, we think of nature and art as unrelated experiences. One is outside, the other is inside. But the way humans experience nature and art has been powerfully linked throughout history...And when that art speaks to us, it in turn deepens our connection with the world around us.&rdquo; For our regular <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, <a href="https://www.fieldmuseum.org/about/staff/profile/416">Alaka Wali</a>, anthropology curator at <a href="https://www.fieldmuseum.org/">The Field Museum</a>, joins Kate Sackman and Jerome McDonnell to share why she believes, &ldquo;engaging with art, whether viewing or making it yourself, gives you a visceral experience. This aesthetic, emotional experience [can be a] great way to engage with nature.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160840481&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-92fe108d-f057-a90e-069f-fd6c5c486bf9"><strong>Key ways art and nature influence each other:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Scientifically grounded art brings natural science to life:</em> Many people find science simply over their heads. Art can bridge the gap by enabling us to visualize what otherwise may seem remote or irrelevant. Audubon did this with detailed renderings of birds, just as the Field Museum does with artistic dioramas, which evoke a sense of the habitat and behavior of any given species, as well as its<a href="http://restoringearth.fieldmuseum.org/"> Restoring Earth</a> exhibit, which brings conservation science to life with mini-collections created by visitors. Wali also cites the example of the international<a href="http://crochetcoralreef.org/"> Crochet Coral Reef</a>, which raises awareness about coral reef destruction using an intricate crochet technique (get the full scoop in<a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef"> this TED Talk</a>).</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Nature-themed art opens doors to other worlds &ndash; including the one outside:</em> Museums can inspire us to head outside, whether it&#39;s the urban kid who doesn&#39;t realize how much nature is all around us until he sees an exhibit on local wildlife, or the art afficionado, inspired to book a trip to the gardens at Giverny and see the famed water lilies for themselves.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Nature-inspired art inspires us to make a difference: </em>Because environmental topics can be overwhelmingly complicated, sometimes a single image is most effective in inspiring action. For example: To<a href="http://www.rare.org/history"> save an endangered parrot</a> native to St. Lucia, international conservation group<a href="http://www.rare.org/"> Rare</a> worked with schools to develop artwork, which eventually became a postage stamp, generating major community support for active protection of the bird. Another example: National Geo photographer Joel Sartore&#39;s<a href="http://photoark.com/galleries/"> Photo Ark</a> documents vulnerable species like the Carolina Grasshopper sparrow, which now has a real<a href="http://photoark.com/measurable-success-for-photo-ark/"> chance for comeback from decline</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Stories like these abound: An artful interpretation of nature can, and has, inspired some of our noblest actions.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>EcoMyths Outcome</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Is getting outdoors the only way to experience nature? Nope! Is going to the museum the only way to experience art? Not a chance. Art can provide a meaningful portal into understanding and connecting with nature&mdash;and vice versa.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One Green Thing: Let the great outdoors inspire your own art</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Whether it&rsquo;s<a href="http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/nature-landscape-photos/"> snapping an artful shot</a> with your phone,<a href="http://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-a-haiku.html"> writing a haiku</a> about the crazy shapes of the clouds, or<a href="http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/01/incredible-balancing-stones-by-michael.html"> balancing river rocks</a>, getting creative in the great outdoors is a powerful way to commune with nature.</p></p> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-we-can-experience-nature-and-art-together-110675 Bioluminescent creatures keep predators at bay http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bio%20bay%20youtube.jpg" title="The bioluminescent ripple effects of a splash in the Bio Bay. (YouTube/TobiasJHN)" /></div><p>When I was in my early 20s I traveled to Puerto Rico on vacation with some friends from high school. We sat on the beach and drank fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas, visited the colonial fort in old San Juan (a place that, with its rolling green meadows and stone turrets perched just above the ocean cliffs, looked to me like Narnia) and for several days we stayed in a rental in Vieques.</p><p>The diminutive island eight miles east of the mainland was for many years a U.S. naval base. Much of the heavily forested island was made into a wildlife preserve, which is now off-limits. But the rest of the island has retained a similar kind of rural, unspoiled beauty. There are white sand beaches and coral reefs, and even feral horses that trot around the pastel-colored houses. But Vieques&rsquo; most remarkable natural feature is its <a href="http://biobay.com/">Bioluminescent Bay</a>.</p><p>I went to the Bio Bay at night, on a bus that departed from the tiny town of Esperanza and wound its way east along the coast. It was perfectly dark when we arrived, and silent, except for the sound of insects and giggling tourists. Our tour guides produced canoes, and we filed in by twos and threes, paddling out to the center of the bay.</p><p>The water was black and glassy, but at the appointed time we jumped in to meet the creatures that give the Bio Bay its name. As we landed in the murk with one splash after another, the water around us flashed with a bright, milky blue glow, illuminating our limbs and reflecting up onto our faces. I swept my arm through the water and watched as it left a trail of blue stardust lit up behind it.</p><p>The Bio Bay, you see, is home to millions upon millions of tiny, one-celled microorganisms called dinoflagellates &ndash; in this case tiny marine plankton that are among the earth&rsquo;s many bioluminescent creatures. They produce their eerie light when they&rsquo;re disturbed, as they were when we decided to take a midnight swim in their home.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the <em>point </em>of that light?&rdquo; J. Woodland &ldquo;Woody&rdquo; Hastings asked at a recent Chicago lecture. The Harvard professor of Natural Sciences studies bioluminescence in creatures across the spectrum of life, from simple, one-celled bacteria to angler fish that swim in the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean and carry their light around with them.</p><p>Hastings said this is the question he&rsquo;s invariably asked at his talks. In the case of one such organism he&rsquo;s studied, a luminous mushroom found in the Brazilian rain forest, Hastings posited that the glow of the fungi attracts insects, which will eat the mushroom and help disperse its spores. But in the case of the plankton in the Bio Bay, my tour guide had another explanation: supposedly, he said, the glow was meant to act like <a href="http://siobiolum.ucsd.edu/dino_bl.html">a &ldquo;burglar alarm,&rdquo;</a> meant to attract a secondary predator that would threaten and scare away the primary predator bothering the dinoflagellates.</p><p>As my tour guide spoke, I felt a blindingly painful sting on my left calf. A jellyfish that I could not see &ndash; but which had clearly seen me &ndash; had wrapped its tentacle around my leg. I hauled myself out of the water and back into the boat, howling with pain. Nature at work!</p><p>In the audio above you can hear Hastings&rsquo; account of another mystical spot of bioluminescent water, this time in the Indian Ocean, known to generations of sailors as the &ldquo;milky sea.&rdquo; And, you can hear more about the spectrum of creatures that cause our waters to glow like a softly lit siren.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Woody Hastings spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology in February of 2013. Click</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/bioluminescence-living-lights-lights-living-106379"><em>here</em></a>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter</em><a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">&nbsp;<em>@rsamer</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 04 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 One CEO's garden ethic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/one-ceos-garden-ethic-106522 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneerk/3979280475/lightbox/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/reflection%20by%20renee%20rendler-kaplan.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 610px;" title="A pond in the Chicago Botanic Garden. (Renee Rendler-Kaplan via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Yoga pants really have nothing to do with environmental ethics. But to hear Lululemon, Apple or any number of companies appropriate terms like &ldquo;ecosystem,&rdquo; you might start to think all CEOs are green thumbs.</p><p>Most are not, but <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/info/senior_staff/siskel.php" target="_blank">Sophia Siskel</a>, CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, thinks more should be.</p><p>&ldquo;Gardening has the power to heal the world&rsquo;s economic and environmental problems,&rdquo; she said Friday at Northwestern University, well aware of how that admittedly tall order might be received.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone could say that&rsquo;s flowery, flighty or naïve,&rdquo; said Siskel, who got her master of business administration degree from Northwestern, but &ldquo;we have to stop being embarrassed about the things we&rsquo;re passionate about when they don&rsquo;t have hardcore quantitative metrics.&rdquo;</p><p>Not that protecting the environment comes at the expense of business, boasting more than 1 million visitors per year, the Chicago Botanic Garden saw its highest-ever attendance in 2012 &mdash;&nbsp;a record it had set in each of the three years prior.</p><p>Several years ago the garden made a commitment to beauty as its own end, focusing on six basic tenets Siskel learned as a gardener: patience, beauty, science, learning from each other, learning form hard work, and faith.</p><p>Those personal values can inform business decisions. &ldquo;Impatience is not an asset in building a strong business or an enduring economy,&rdquo; Siskel said. &ldquo;Impatience breeds waste.&rdquo;</p><p>Refocusing on their inherent interest in natural beauty also led to a renewal of the garden&rsquo;s scientific mission. They developed a plan with NASA to train up to 60 Chicago-area teachers to use NASA&rsquo;s global earth observation data in a climate change curriculum for 4<sup>th</sup>-12<sup>th</sup> graders.</p><p>The writer Michael Pollan offered up a similar &ldquo;garden ethic&rdquo; in his book <em><a href="http://michaelpollan.com/books/second-nature/">Second Nature</a></em>. He bought a farm and attempted to let it grow free, with disastrous results. But waging an all-out war on the natural world also ended in failure. Pollan arrived at a garden ethic to reconcile his respect for the integrity of nature with his needs as a member of contemporary society.</p><p>Siskel&rsquo;s garden ethic shares that environmentalist sentiment, but applies it more specifically to professional and personal relationships. She pointed to the proliferation of urban gardening and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042" target="_blank">green jobs programs for hard-to-employ individuals</a>&nbsp;as evidence of the value of lessons learned through gardening.</p><p>&ldquo;Economic calculations often ignore nature. The result can be the destruction of the very ecosystems on which our economy is based,&quot; she said. &quot;Somehow by the time we get to be grown-ups, we forget that the future of life on earth depends on the ability of plants to sustain us.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 06 Apr 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/one-ceos-garden-ethic-106522 Pinning down the value of Illinois' trails http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/pinning-down-value-illinois-trails-106461 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/trails2.JPG" style="height: 408px; width: 610px;" title="Volunteers conduct surveys at Tunnel Hill State Trail. (Courtesy Thomas' Photographic Services)" /></p><p>With <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/bloomingdale-trail-reveals-chicagos-idea-grand-city-planning-102655">the Bloomingdale Trail poised to cut a streak of green</a> through the park-poor west side of Chicago, there has been renewed talk of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/nyregion/with-next-phase-ready-area-around-high-line-is-flourishing.html">the so-called High Line effect</a> &mdash; the idea that trails like New York&rsquo;s defunct viaduct-turned-economic engine could be a boon for businessmen <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-a-birnbaum/the-real-high-line-effect_b_1604217.html">as well as urbanists</a>.</p><p>We typically imagine the value of trails to be the way they connect people with nature. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/new-orland-grasslands-trail-stirs-environmental-concerns-106058">Though not without their own environmental concerns</a>, trails make wilderness accessible. But <a href="http://trailsforillinois.tumblr.com/maketrailscount">a new study from Trails for Illinois</a>, a local trails advocacy group, suggests they also open up users&rsquo; wallets.</p><p>More than one third of trail users bought something during their visits to six Illinois trails last summer, according to the study&nbsp;<em><a href="http://trailsforillinois.tumblr.com/MTC-Download">Making Trails Count in Illinois</a></em>. That should encourage communities along the <a href="http://calsagtrail.org/Friends_of_the_Calumet-Sag_Trail/Triple_Bottom_Line.html">Cal-Sag Trail</a>, a 32-mile multi-use path that would link hikers and bikers to the downtowns of several south Chicago suburbs. In Blue Island, for example, that trail would link in directly with bike lanes that travel through the town&#39;s main business corridor.</p><p>&ldquo;Hopefully it takes the blinders off of towns and merchants,&rdquo; said Steve Buchtel, executive director of Trails for Illinois. &ldquo;Trail users have credit cards, and will swipe it if you ask them to.&rdquo;</p><p>Between mid-July and mid-October 2012, volunteer teams counted the number of trail users and plucked surveys from boxes placed on six trails statewide, including the Chicago area&rsquo;s Fox River and Old Plank Road Trails.</p><p>&ldquo;This moves beyond being anecdotal about what trails do for quality for life and the local economy,&rdquo; Buchtel said. &ldquo;These six trails are just the start. We&rsquo;ve got a baseline of data that gives us a sample of how trails are benefiting Illinois, and we want to grow and leverage that.&rdquo;</p><p>The average amount of all purchases recorded by the survey was about $30. In addition to ripple effects for the local tourism and service industries around trails, Buchtel sees inklings of a &ldquo;triple bottom line&rdquo; in the data &mdash; health topped the list of reasons given for trail use, reported nearly twice as frequently as recreation.</p><p>And <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CDIQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hamline.edu%2FWorkArea%2Flinkit.aspx%3FLinkIdentifier%3Did%26ItemID%3D2147491171&amp;ei=a-RcUcvdKsjbqQGRwIDAAw&amp;usg=AFQjCNGxD8NoWm2iRDvJcOsVAEHyP6ljyA&amp;sig2=bOoXFTwyz2_J6hqWuZypRg&amp;bvm=bv.44770516,d.aWM">research</a> backs up the notion that spending time in nature improves environmental stewardship. But could we eventually lose our connection with nature as a result of technologically tricking out our trails? Maybe, Buchtel said, but for now he&rsquo;s focused on getting more built.</p><p>Nearly 70 percent of users surveyed found trails by word of mouth, suggesting a promotion problem that could leave environmental assets hiding in plain sight.</p></p> Thu, 04 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/pinning-down-value-illinois-trails-106461