Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Caitlin Reinartz
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The story of lesser celandine (also known as fig buttercup or pilewort) is the classic story of an invasive species.  Native to Europe, northern Africa, western Asia, and Siberia, it was brought to the United States as an ornamental plant.  While here, this species found that it had a huge competitive advantage and it took over.  In Cleveland, Ohio, lesser celandine was planted in flower beds of (just) two residences in the 1970s.  It escaped the confines of those two yards, and less than 40 years later, it had taken over nearly 300 acres of parkland along the Rocky River, with 183 of those acres having lesser celandine cover of more than 50% (that means that lesser celandine covered more…
Written by Celia Benton
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
It was another sunny day in the Menomonee Valley. Delma placed the stethoscope against a gnarly tree branch in Three Bridges Park. Her eyes grew wide and she shouted “I can hear it! The tree has a pulse!” Several minutes, and several tree pulses later, Delma approached me and said, “My grandfather in Mexico used to place his ear to the ground and say he could hear the heartbeat of the earth. Is it true that the earth has a heartbeat? Now that I’ve heard the pulses of the trees I think he is right.” It was one of the most profound and beautiful statements I have ever heard, and it came from a seventh grader.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 10 March 2014
Connecting people with both their community and their environment is at the heart of what we do. One of the ways we accomplish this is through sustainable food programs like these!
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Thursday, 06 March 2014
Sometimes changing one small thing can have a huge impact. Curiosity about where her food came from and who was growing it led Anne Steinberg from a passive consumer to a food activist. After participating in a course on sustainable living at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) about nine years ago, Steinberg decided to try to change just one thing in her life to be more sustainable. She started buying fair trade coffee. Since it was easy enough to change what she was drinking, she decided to change what she was eating, so she became a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Having a connection to where and how her food was grown opened her eyes to a…
Written by Emily Michi
Thursday, 06 March 2014
When I was first hired as an Environmental Educator seven years ago the Washington Park branch was just getting started. I had spent the last four years teaching in a variety of environmental education centers where my outdoor classroom had been a forest. My new outdoor classroom was not a forest but a city park that had a lagoon with a very distinct “stinky end,” some nicely spaced trees and grass. All I could see were the challenges in not having decomposing logs to roll over, undergrowth to play camouflage or a gully of rocks; in short, all the things I was used to having when teaching a class.
Written by Lesley Sheridan
Wednesday, 05 March 2014
Reflecting on all my experiences, I’ve really come to appreciate the pure joy and curiosity preschool-aged children readily exhibit in response to outdoor experiences. I can always count on pockets full of leaves, rocks, sticks and other treasures that kids bring to show me with exclamations of delight! One of my favorite things to do with preschoolers is to flip over these large, black pads that we have in Riverside Park to reveal the invertebrate life hidden beneath. The kids help me point out scurrying centipedes, hustling isopods and wiggling worms.
Written by Beth Heller
Tuesday, 04 March 2014
For 44 years Earth Day has been celebrated around the world on April 22nd as a day to protect, steward and learn about the earth. It’s one of our favorite holidays at the Urban Ecology Center, but we always have too much earth-celebrating enthusiasm for one day. It has caused a bit of a dilemma for us — do we spend the day educating others about our fascinating planet or plan a day of service so you can dig into the dirt? Do we create programs about water or take you out in a canoe to experience it? We want to do it all and one 24-hour day is just not enough. So, we’re declaring April to be Earth Month…
Written by Anne Reis
Monday, 03 March 2014
A recent NPR segment on All Things Considered reported some sad news - but brought the acronym “GIS” to light. The father of GIS (geographic information systems), Roger Tomlinson, passed away in early February. He was the first person to devise a computer software to overlay different types of map layers on top of one another, thereby efficiently revealing physical and biological patterns in a landscape or area and streamlining analyses of these patterns. Using current GIS software, the Urban Ecology Center has been able to map a variety of data about our branches and parks.
Written by Ken Leinbach
Monday, 03 March 2014
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.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 03 March 2014
“Who knew potatoes could be so thrilling,” says Barb Finch, a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm from Milwaukee. “I grew up eating mashed or boiled potatoes every day, they weren’t that interesting. The potatoes I get in my CSA box are so full of flavor. The Yukon Golds and Reds are incredible. I could never go back to buying a potato from a grocery store again.”

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