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City Creatures Blog

As urban populations grow, and contact with nature becomes more constricted, is our psychological and social well-being in jeopardy?  Are healthy ecological communities, biological diversity, and even wilderness compatible with urban areas?  An extension of our City Creatures project, this blog explores how cities can be remarkable places that offer opportunities for intimacy, connection, and transformation with other species, and with one another, in our shared urban habitats.  

To request guidelines for blog post submissions, please email gavin@humansandnature.org


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The Pigeon Diaries

Random acts of bird watching from my first two months as a city creature.

July 28, 2014

We have pigeons! Only two days here and I have found birds to watch from my 8th floor living room window. My husband says I will tire of them. All city people do, he tells me.

July 31, 2014

There are ... Read More »

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It Doesn’t Howl But It Might As Well

I moved from arid Colorado to Washington, D.C., two years ago. I’m starting to get used to the idea that the swamp is always pressing in. Turned your back on weeding for a couple of weeks? Enormous stalks suddenly take hold. Forgot to prune last season? Now you practically need a chainsaw. But the insect ... Read More »

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The Needle Chase: The Travails of Deer Immunocontraception-on-Hudson

Over a year ago I described how the small village of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, was planning to respond to the population explosion of white-tailed deer (“Ethics on the Edge,” May 28, 2013). We resolved to control it through contraception rather than culling. Here I would like to share what happened during our first try ... Read More »

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Eulogy for the Passenger Pigeon

Imagine a bird shaped a bit like a mourning dove but much larger, slate blue on the back, salmon pink on the breast, with an opalescent necklace of green and rose. The bird lived in flocks so large they would darken the sky, sometimes for three days, as they passed overhead. Their wing beats were ... Read More »

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Rest and Recovery

There’s a smudge on the floor of the porch below the plate glass window. I suspect what the smudge might be, but don’t want to think about that. I’m home from a long day of work so I pull bills and magazines out of the mailbox and rummage through my small brown purse for my ... Read More »

Patience in Springfield, Missouri

Thirty Times a Minute

Could the act of looking at animals be part of a larger search for connection with something beyond ourselves, beyond our humanness—an attempt to connect with the mystery that nature inspires, even when this experience is heavily mediated? Why do so many people want to look at animals? Why do we defend or implicitly support the ... Read More »

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Lessons for an Apologetic Gardener

Am I the only person who apologizes to worms? To the small creatures that make their homes in soil, a gardener must seem like Godzilla galumphing through Tokyo, bringing destruction with every scoop of the trowel or scrape of the hoe. I find myself asking forgiveness of spiders, centipedes, and everything that crawls, slithers, or ... Read More »

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Down Clear Creek

“Your God damn rivers,” he said at one point, “ain’t got no God damn water in them most of the God damn time.” (John Graves, “Kindred Spirits” in A John Graves Reader, p. 188)

Clear Creek is not the kind of stream most people would think to paddle. There are no designated ... Read More »

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A Question of Monarchs

A line of people curves like the body of a giant caterpillar, twisting up the mountain into the endangered oyamel fir forest. Michoacán, Mexico—the cloud-misted overwintering site of the monarch butterfly. Near the middle of the caterpillar of people, I kept pace, thinking about Catholic peregrinos who journey on well-worn footpaths and roads, ... Read More »

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The Last Village by the Lake

Lying in my bed late into the night, if I hold my body still and concentrate, I can hear the waves of Lake Michigan. I wait for the El to pass, listen to the rumbling wheels give way to the echo of the surf, its sigh and heave, bouncing up into my window from the ... Read More »

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