Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

We are proud to include a large community of voices in our blog. Volunteers, partners, community members, etc. are encouraged to share their stories with us!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 10:17

Once you’ve read Fabre, you’re never alone

I’m not a professional scientist. But animal stories, biographies of scientists and works of natural history have always been my favorite reading material. Since childhood I’ve been nourished by the prose of ones who observe, measure and count; imagine and experiment. I still have natural history books I acquired as a child. One of them is Animal Behavior from the Life Nature Library series. It was published in 1965; presented as an introduction to what the editors of the time called the “infant science” of ethology. 

The thought of hiking 100 miles through the northern Maine wilderness was just an idea thrown around between my dad (Alan) and I (Erin) until one day at the end of 2016, we decided to book flights and make it happen. After months of training, it was finally time to get on a plane and go to Monson, Maine. We started our hike on Mt. Katahdin, the northern most point of the Appalachian Trail. Everything we would need for the next 11 days was on our backs and once we entered the 100 Mile Wilderness, there was no access to civilization until we reached the other side.

Monday, 15 May 2017 09:51

Epic World Dance Party

On May 6th, 2017, brothers Zion Singh Ponder (4 years old) and Zephaniah Singh Ponder (8 years old) hosted the Epic World Dance Party. This was their second year doing the Epic World Dance Party in partnership with the Urban Ecology Center. The boys invited dancers from around the city to teach mini dancing lessons during the party. This year, Mari Otero from Salsabrosa Dance Company taught Salsa and Bachata. Gabi Sustache from Danceworks Milwaukee taught Modern Dancing.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017 14:57

Storied Landscapes

Earth Day is nearly upon us. Each year we pause on April 22nd to think about ecology, climate change, preservation—survival. This past year, people the world over have come together around the protection of our waters, taking up the chant "Water is Life."   Now as we think about the health of our planet, I invite you to consider the way we "story" water, the earth, the sky, and all the natural beings in the universe. In The Truth About Stories Indigenous writer Tom King asks, "Do the stories we tell reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?"

During hot months, prairies come alive with phenomenal displays of wildflowers and the prairie restorations of the Rotary Centennial Arboretum at Riverside Park are, right now, in full bloom. There you can find this week’s wildflower: Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus).

With flowerheads that look like small, delicate daisies, prairie fleabane is a member of Asteraceae, the asters. Asteraceae is one of the two biggest families of plants in the world along with Orchidaceae, the orchids. Which family is bigger depends on who’s counting what as a species.

Some wildflowers grow modestly, a few delicate blossoms held a few inches off the ground. Then there are bold wildflowers like the Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum).

Waterleaf can’t wait for you to see it. Growing some two-feet tall, the waterleaf puts out showy balls of flowers. If you walk through Riverside Park on the right day in late spring, the whole park will be alive with this bushy wildflower.

If you asked someone to draw a flower, what would it look like? It would probably resemble a daisy, or maybe a tulip, right? What it wouldn’t look like is the strangely fleshy, three-pointed flower of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).

In that same drawing, the flower would probably be shown standing proudly erect, basking in the sunlight like the “day’s eye,” which incidentally is the origin of the word daisy. You probably wouldn’t draw a flower hidden under large leaves, slumping messily into the soil.

But wild ginger is not your typical flower. It doesn’t even have petals!

Spring is a glorious season in Wisconsin. After the snow melts but before the trees grow leaves, wildflowers cover the forest floors. Right here in the parks of Milwaukee, you can find a brilliant display of spring ephemerals, and one of the first to bloom here is Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata).

As our art exhibits enter their tenth year, Sally Duback, one of the founding members of our arts committee offers this reflection about the beginning and growth of the program.

Ten years ago, UEC board member Danni Gendelman convinced the board that it would be a good idea to host nature-related art exhibitions in the community room. In order to make this happen, she pulled together a small committee of Milwaukee area artists/arts professionals Barbara Manger, Sally Duback and Leon Travanti; and discussions began among them about how this could work.

Thursday, 07 May 2015 00:00

Simple Gifts

Have you ever had the experience of turning a corner in a familiar neighborhood, and suddenly becoming alert to all sorts of buildings or natural features you had never noticed before? That's sort of what becoming a bird watcher has been like for me. I've walked along creeks and in woods my whole life, but it's only been within the last few years that I've truly been aware of my winged companions out there.

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