It's that time of year again when the trees and flowers are in bloom - spring! As a scholar of urban forests, these are the months when I most appreciate the green infrastructure of our city. After a long, dark, cold, grey winter, the flowers and green are welcome.
In particular, I frequently find myself stopping to photograph the beautiful boulevards (I call them "tree lawns" since I study trees) on my walking commute to and from DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus. Below are some of my favorite tree lawns from the past couple weeks.
(I've also included a few of my not-so-favorite rights-of-way: tree pits and streets that show the notorious lack of stormwater management and ability to cope with heavy spring rains. Signs of Chicago's aging infrastructure, as well as the heavier rain events that are symptomatic of climate change. Both the first and last picture show streets and boulevards that don't drain particularly well.)
It's the end of fall quarter here at DePaul, which means the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and winter break are upon us. The ink on grades is still drying, and it's a time to slow down and reflect a bit on the learning of the past ten weeks. I'd like to share with you a thoughtful end-of-quarter course reflection, written by Declan McInerney, a student in my ENV 151 Intro to Sustainability class.
Before this course, the word sustainability brought images of dirty hippies living on vegan communes in huts made from recycled garbage. That’s not to say that it’s not an image I could get behind, but my feelings were that sustainability was reserved for those living on the fringes of society. Through this course I’ve come to realize that sustainability is actually something all of us should be thinking about and striving for. In fact, we don’t even have to sacrifice our urban lifestyle to do so. Sustainability is not about retreating to caveman technology in order to save the planet. Quite the opposite, sustainability is about redefining our relationship to technology and compensating our society for the needs of the planet. This doesn’t mean running off to the woods and becoming feral; it means constructing urban gardens, developing more efficient systems, utilizing new technologies and designing smarter products. Sustainability appears to be the wave of the future and I’m excited to ride it!
Well said, Declan. And happy sustainable holidays everyone!
LUFA research students Greg Skora, Erik Espeland, and Sam Conrad presented their research at the DePaul University 14th Annual Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Technology Undergraduate Research Showcase on Friday, November 4th. The Showcase is the annual DePaul College of Science and Health event at which over 75 students present research performed for senior thesis projects, as part of the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program (URAP), through independent study, or during fellowships and internships at organizations across Chicago and the country.
For more details on what LUFA students presented, check out the PDFs of LUFA student posters on the Neighborhood Tree Planting and Climate Change project pages!
Jess Vogt, Assistant Professor, Env. Science & Studies, DePaul University