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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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Nature Leaving Me Buzzed

One can easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle of urban life, whether commuting by public transit to work, attending street and music festivals, or patronizing the variety of local bars and restaurants. Given the pace and distractions of city living, some effort may be required to slow down and reconnect with nature. ... Read More »


Jim Corbett, Truant Sea Lion of Lake Michigan

Sometime in early October 1892, a sea lion escaped from its pool in the Lincoln Park Zoo and slipped into Lake Michigan. Newspapers named the animal after Jim Corbett, a famous boxer who was in town at the time of the escape, and tracked Jim’s movements up and down the western shore of Lake Michigan. ... Read More »


How to Know Where the River Is

The southeast corner of Harlem and Washington, where I often wait for the bus going north to the school where I work, is irrefutably urban. North across Washington an apartment building edges the sidewalk. Across Harlem is a gas station painted with a green never seen in nature and  fronted with popsicle-shaped yews stuck in ... Read More »

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Why I Paint City Creatures

For 20 years, my artistic journey has been intertwined with city creatures. My watercolor paintings feature local and global flora and fauna, both common and endangered. Birds especially capture my attention—from devious red-winged blackbirds in Millennium Park to golden finches feeding on my sunflowers and skittish sparrows who gobble up the tiny seeds that fall ... Read More »


Two Years

We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the City Creatures blog. It’s been a fun ride. We pause this week to take a breath and scan the landscape.

Thank you to our 67 contributors … and counting … many of whom have shared multiple pieces. It’s been wonderful to watch this blog grow its audience and ... Read More »


More Than a Tree

When we moved into our house sixteen years ago, there were signs that the backyard’s towering silver maple was in decline. Little piles of sawdust at the base suggested carpenter ants were digging away at it from within. I knew that, one day, we’d probably have to cut the tree down. That day came on ... Read More »


Shhh, We’re Listening to the World

When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park following the Civil War, they brought with them lessons learned during their first project working together. One of these lessons from Central Park was that a road through the middle of a greensward is a terrible idea. They sunk Central’s roads below grade, an ... Read More »

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The Wildness of Being

4:45 a.m.

Our indoor cat bangs on the closed blinds.  Then stops.  Seconds later she starts again and manages to open them by pulling the cord with her paws.

Is she hungry? No. She’s already had a midnight snack of dry food.

She wants to bird.

*     *     *     *     *

Having grown up along the southwestern shore ... Read More »

Male Spring Peeper Singing in Spring

Spring Calling

May, as a month and a word, is so full of possibilities.

When March snows retreat, aspiring greenery emerges, heralded by trumpet-shaped daffodils and kettledrum crocus. April showers catalyze the process as a retinue of re-acquaintances begins to brighten our days. Tulips and forsythia strike poses and are followed by May redbuds and viburnum, who ... Read More »


Commonplace Nature, Close at Hand: Thinking about Leonard Dubkin as Spring Emerges

The other morning as I sat in my postage stamp of a back yard here in Joliet, watching house sparrows flutter and fuss in the blossom-laden branches of our flagrantly flowering lilac bush, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite naturalists and Chicago writers: Leonard Dubkin (1905-1972). If you’ve never heard ... Read More »

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