Posts

Why is Urban Sustainability so Hard? The Trap of the Sanitary City

A few months ago, I was having a lively discussion with some serious and dedicated undergraduates at a university I was visiting.  The fact that they were disappointed with their training in sustainability came up — They felt they weren’t being told how to practice sustainability.  This provided an opportunity for interesting engaged discussion, and […]

Outcomes of an Urban Sustainability Research Network

From 2011 through 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) supported a collaborative research project on “Urban Sustainability: Research Coordination and Synthesis for a Transformative Future.”  This project was jointly organized and directed by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER and the Central Arizona Phoenix LTER.  Prof. Daniel L. Childers and I were Co-Directors of the project.  […]

American Urban Ecology Comes of Age

The 100th Anniversary meeting of the Ecological Society of America was held in Baltimore this year.  Some 4,600 members of the society gathered to share scientific insights, hold workshops on better connecting the science to the larger world, and promoting the diversity of its own community.  In addition there were field trips to both urban […]

The Kind of Solution A City Is

A while ago I wrote about Jane Jacobs’ insight that cities were complex systems[i].  The stone that she dropped in the urban pond in 1961 has rippled widely, and the ideas of cities as complex adaptive systems, with emergent properties, good and bad resilience, and non-linear dynamics now guide much cutting edge urban research. Of […]

A Poster Introducing BES III

BES at the All Scientists’ Meeting Every three years, the participants in the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network meet to share and compare results, and to plan for the future.  this effort, involving more than one thousand researchers, educators, artists, and other collaborators in LTER, is called an All Scientists’ Meeting. The details of this […]

Post-Industrial Baltimore

Baltimore is often called a “post-industrial” urban region.  What set of cultural and theoretical assumptions does this label invoke?  The industrial and post-industrial tag emerges from the Modernist program and discontent with it. What is Modernism? The industry window at Zion Church The cultural program of Modernism, which like any cultural program is a mix […]

A Presentation on BES III: Research, Education, and Engagement from the Sanitary to the Sustainable City

By now, friends and members of BES are familiar with the new research strategy we have developed to guide our third grant cycle.  A new six year grant is an opportunity to keep up important long-term measurements and experiments, but is also a chance to make important changes. The fact that the Baltimore metropolitan area […]

Natural Experiments of History

The title of this essay is the same as a book edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, published in 2010 by Harvard University Press.  The book explores the general method of natural experiments applied to human societies and history.  It was tempting to title this essay “Cultural Experiments,” because the emphasis of their […]

Complexity: The Hidden Nugget in Jane Jacobs’ Book

Well, perhaps it’s unfair to call it hidden.  It is after all the topic of the final chapter, entitled “The Kind of Problem a City Is.”  In that chapter, she explores the nature of cities as complex systems, stimulated by the work of pioneering cyberneticists as summarized by Dr. Warren Weaver[i].  But I have to […]

Interest in Urban Resilience: A Burgeoning Frontier

Resilience is becoming an increasingly important concept in contemporary ecological science.  Since the introduction of the resilience cycle, an open ended, ecological concept has guided the understanding of this important process (http://besdirector.blogspot.com/2011/01/resilience-ecology-evolution-and.html).  Resilience has been a major stimulus for research in socio-ecological systems.  It has been useful in understanding fisheries, and landscapes in which people […]