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Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach

Ken is a nationally recognized educator and leader in community-based environmental education. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center. With his contagious energy, Ken speaks on a number of topics including: urban education, community organizing, environmental issues, finding abundance, the power of story, sustainable design, the need for "near-by" nature, leadership, fundraising, and green living. Ken holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Antioch College in Ohio, a Masters degree in Environmental Education from Prescott College in Arizona and received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Milwaukee Instituted of Art and Design.

Monday, 17 November 2014 00:00

The Greatest Gift

Hi, it’s me, Ken! I’m thinking about what to give to the special people in my life during this giving season. Should I give them an Urban Ecology Center gift membership? A Center t-shirt? Or maybe a day outdoors in the snow? Hmm, perhaps I should ask around. "What does the fox say?"

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

Another Magical Story

 

It feels a little like one of those movies of intrigue that involves the rare collection of unknown value, a chance rendezvous in a far away place, large sums of money, serendipity, strategy sessions, encounters with powerful people and in the end, a perfect exclamation point to a life well lived. In this instance Pieter Godfrey's legacy lives on in the most unexpected of ways.

 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00

Our Stories

“Ken, in addition to our gift for your early childhood program, we are also interested in giving you a little extra to write a book. We think that the story of the Urban Ecology Center is an inspirational one that needs to be told.”

Wow! How cool is that? This remarkable, unsolicited gift came last year from a foundation that had just started their support. However, it has not been until very recently that we have actually figured out how to carve out the necessary time to put a book together. I mean, really, how do you even start?

Well, in typical Urban Ecology Center fashion we’d like to start with you!

I awoke alone just before sunrise, happy for the warmth of my sleeping bag. The eastern horizon was aglow where ocean met sky. Purple, peach and pink all mixed up into one intense remarkable color. I rolled over and rested my chin in my hands to take in the beauty before my eyes. There was hardly a breath of wind on the shore of this small, isolated cove on Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez.

My mind was awake, open and clear.

I heard a soft sound ... not so much an interruption, but an intrinsic part of the moment.

Fifteen years ago a movie cost you on average $4.50 (now $8.20), a gallon of gas cost $1.06 (now $3.75), a dozen eggs went for $1.09 (now $2.50) and an Urban Ecology Center membership cost $25 (still $25). What? The crazy thing is that while our membership rates remained the same for 15 years, our offerings increased by at least a factor of ten if not a hundred! 15 years ago we had only one center — a single, double-wide trailer in the then run-down Riverside Park. Our lending program consisted of just a few canoes and our program offerings, while always of the highest quality, represented just a fraction of the number of what we can offer now.

Friday, 27 December 2013 12:22

New Year, New Land

I knew the call would come eventually, I was just hoping it would take a little longer to happen. When it did come, however, I was incredibly thankful that it left an opening and was not final.

“Ken, we’ve decided that we need to sell the property and have some interested buyers who have offered some very attractive numbers to us,” she said, “however, we’d love it if there was a way for the Center to have it. We cannot give it away but we might be able to give you time. How long do you think you would need to make a run for it?”

Change, real change takes time.

Today, we are three branches, 224 acres and 3,000 plus members strong. But we didn’t start off here. It took commitment. It took community. It took resources. It took me. It took you.

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Monday, 21 October 2013 16:03

Together, We are an Ocean

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” — Ryunosuke Satoro. 

I love the community we’ve built at the Urban Ecology Center! I am constantly amazed by the dedicated and passionate people I meet here. Here are four affirming vignettes – all from one day!

First I had a meeting at Menomonee Valley:

Thursday, 29 August 2013 13:32

The Perfect Wave

Eyes closed and hands outstretched in the smooth water, I could feel the wake form from my palms just before the turbulent white foam of the wave. My body was alive with youthful spirit hardly feeling the cold of the 60 degree water and not at all the bodily aches and pains of 50 years of living. It was a great day to be alive!

I biked in to work in an absolutely fabulous mood. No particular reason, just enjoying life. So I'm riding along lost in my thoughts, meditating in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way on a friend who is depressed.

If he could just find his passion, I thought, or a new passion then maybe it would bring purpose to his life. There seems to be a definite connection between purpose and passion. Perhaps the meaning of life is to find one's purpose and that one finds purpose through exploring one's passions ... Hmmm. Suddenly another "P" word came to mind, presence.

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