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Magic - Making a Gigantic Impact in the Community

Written by Ken Leinbach
    Friday, 30 June 2017
Magic - Making a Gigantic Impact in the Community

Our impact isn’t always known right away. Sometimes it surprises us years later. An individual experience at our Center expands into a huge community change.

That experience, well it’s just magical!

A “Must See”

In 2012, a group from Atlanta visited on an exploratory tour of Milwaukee’s environmental accomplishments. They were looking for an inspiration. Searching for something they could replicate back home.

They were impressed by Milwaukee’s citywide green infrastructure including our world class sewage treatment system and Milorganite plant, green roof promotion, and our gold-medal winning parks system. They had also been told that something called the Urban Ecology Center was a “must see”. They felt a certain “magic” about our work, and it stuck with them. Five years later, they came back to Milwaukee and plan to use our book and our staff as resources to create an urban ecology center of their own.

International Inspiration

Last summer, a delegation from the northern part of Israel came on a five-city tour of the United States, exploring ideas that might be transferable to their region. One of their stops included a talk and tour over dinner at the UEC.

Six months later we received a call. Of all the initiatives the delegation had explored, we were their most inspiring! Their experience here was so “magical” that they were inspired to fly three of us over to investigate what it might take to create an ecology center in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.

I like my friend Corey Styles definition for this magic. Simply put it is about Making a Gigantic Impact in the Community.

But what makes visiting UEC so inspiring? While both groups had toured our Riverside Park branch, this “magic” has been expressed by visitors at all of our branches. Location alone isn’t the underlying factor. So, what is it?

There are researchers around the world studying what causes an immediate sense of comfort, creativity and learning in a location or in a group. They call this a generative social field.

One of the researchers, Mette Boll invited me to join a process to define how a generative social field is created. Could it have something to do with the love and care involved in the creation of a place? Is it the people? How do you study this sense that we all know intuitively but rarely talk about and, if you are like me, hardly even reflected on?

It was a mind-bending experience that resulted in some thought-provoking considerations for the future and possibly a research study on the Urban Ecology Center.

Regardless of their discoveries, this magic comes from all of you who make the work of the Center happen each day! Thanks to you all for being part of our community ... or perhaps our social field ... in such a way to allow this magic to happen!

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.

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