Your “Container” is being noticed!

Written by Ken Leinbach
    Thursday, 16 January 2020
Your “Container” is being noticed!

As a member of our community of supporters, you have created a unique container in which kids and adults in the city can connect to nature and to each other, engage in healing the land and learn from it. It’s quite amazing really.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to swing by the Washington Park UEC Autumn Celebration. Oh my! It was amazing to see so many people out and about from the neighborhood on a cool, blustery October weekend. In our often racially divided city, these events cross relational bridges that are so needed and fun to be part of. I wish there was a measurement for smiles and laughter and exclamations of glee as people try something that they have never tried before, meet someone new and grow to love their own neighborhood.

While I was there, I met a 14-year-old named Derrick. He had been “dragged” to the Center by his Mom for their first visit to volunteer together. She ended up managing the caramel apples, while Derrick was assigned to assist with the grill, where burgers and dogs were “happening”, using his term. He was the first to admit how much fun he was having, despite his earlier reluctance, and eagerly took in the information about how high school students can engage with our Centers. 

UEC OCT132018 096Being outside in nature truly is healing, and not just for the individual but for the whole community as well. We think of nature as being out there for all, easy for anyone to get into if they choose, but truth is there are so many different perceptions and fears around the natural world, that an invitation and structure, or “container” as I called it earlier, is needed for someone like Derrick to take that first step.

It’s cool, because this container, thanks to the really good work happening here in Milwaukee neighborhoods every day, is being noticed and is having an influence in many places that we do not even always know about. 1IMG 3986

Doctors are beginning to prescribe time outside in nature as part of their healing strategy for patients, and teachers and school counselors are using this “nature prescription” concept to aid in both behavior and learning for students.

I recently found myself presenting at a Nature is Medicine SH/FT conference which focuses on research in the medical world that consistently identifies time in nature as both healing and restorative. I facilitated a three-hour workshop on “Access for All” related to breaking down barriers, perceived and real, related to getting people outside. During an awards ceremony at the conference, the Urban Ecology Center was identified as one of the top nonprofits in the country for our unique, replicable model and our work in breaking down barriers for access in the urban environment.

Your container is noticed and it’s putting Milwaukee on the map!

Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach is a nationally recognized science educator and leader in community-based environmental education. From a trailer in a high-crime city park, Ken has had fun facilitating the grassroots effort to create and grow the Urban Ecology Center which is the topic of his first book.

Striving to live with as little environmental impact as possible, Ken lives in the community in which he works and, not owning a car, commutes by bike, unicycle, roller blades, and occasionally even by kayak on the Milwaukee River.



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