Building Community and Habitat in the City of St. Louis through Milkweeds for Monarchs: The St. Louis Butterfly Project

By |August 9th, 2014|Categories: Ideas & Tools, Interviews|

The Biophilic Cities Project had the great pleasure of interviewing the mayor and the sustainability director for the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Mayor Francis Slay and Catherine Werner described the new, successful Milkweeds for Monarchs Initiative. Catherine Werner with Mayor Francis G. Slay St. Louis may be known for the Gateway Arch and its proximity to the Mississippi River, but the city is now being recognized for creating habitats for the endangered Monarch Butterfly. To commemorate the city’s 250th birthday, the mayor is challenging citizens to plant 200 butterfly gardens in addition to the 50 gardens that the city has committed to planting. Monarch on Aster. Photo taken by Catherine Werner. Why the Monarch butterfly? Why butterfly gardens? The Monarch [...]

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Festivals that Dance like a Butterfly

By |July 16th, 2014|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

Festivals bring vitality and a sense of community to cities. What better way to bring people together than to provide a public celebration where everyone can enjoy themselves? Adding wings to this idea, now there are festivals that celebrate the people within a community and also the important native plants and animals that make such communities unique. Two great examples that highlight this month’s focus on butterflies are the Texas Butterfly Festival and the Florida ButterflyFest. Each year as the warmth of summer dwindles, butterflies and moths that came north from the Southern US and Mexico to repopulate migrate to find gentler winter conditions. This migration can be witnessed, with luck, each fall as the butterflies and moths make their way South. Overwintering spots can [...]

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Marine Citizen Science: Reconnecting People with the Ocean

By |June 24th, 2014|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

My childhood was spent on Kodiak Island, Alaska and I spent countless hours poking starfish and collecting creatures from tidal pools. After nearly a decade of living away from the ocean, I recently moved to a coastal city. Despite living less than half of a mile from the bay, myself and many other city residents usually only gaze at the waters. Living in a highly urbanized city, and also a historic working harbor, lack of direct access to the water might be safer for health reasons. But urban runoff, bacteria, and trash are issues some coastal residents are addressing through citizen science programs that help to ensure waters are safe for human recreation and plant and animal habitation, as well as providing local decision makers [...]

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Heath Impact Assessments for Measuring the Impact of Nature

By |March 23rd, 2014|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

Convincing local governments to invest in nature can often be a hard sell. With a finite amount of resources and growing demands, prioritizing nature in cities can be difficult. One strategy for obtaining funding or buy in for your urban nature project is to conduct an assessment of its potential health impacts. Human health benefits of nature can often be a compelling argument when local governments, businesses, and organizations are burdened with rising healthcare costs. What tools are available to help determine the health impacts of urban nature projects? One tool that cities may find useful is the Health Impact Assessment process. The Process Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) grew out of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Rather than being mandated or measuring the impact on the [...]

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Green Wall Construction 101

By |December 20th, 2013|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

While the Biophilic Cities Team was preparing for the LAUNCH, we wanted to make sure that the exhibit also included a taste of the innovative green ideas that exist throughout our partner cities. We decided to include an array of options for our green demonstrations, from do-it-yourself to store-bought and assembled kits. In the end, the Biophilic Cities Team decided on five different green displays for the LAUNCH. We had a living terrarium (bought), two planted hanging frames (kit), a succulent frame (kit), a moss frame (DIY), and our big DIY project – a rolling, double-sided, vertical, indoor pallet. As this is our first time attempting a pallet project, we thought we might share with the BC family the process we took to develop our [...]

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Aquaponics: Growing More with Less

By |August 5th, 2013|Categories: Biophilic Cities, Ideas & Tools|

Portable fish farm at Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Steven Walling. Accessed from the Wikimedia Commons. With the recent increase in popularity of urban farming on the rise, the question arises: how much food can actually be generated in the city?  One technique that can increase calories per square foot while also reducing fertilizer and pesticide use is aquaponics.  Aquaponics is a food-production strategy that links aquaculture, the raising of fish and shellfish for food, and hydroponics, the growing of plants outside of a soil medium, to the benefit of both. The joined system reduces resource input (water and fertilizer) and waste compared to either system individually.  Wastes from the fish-rearing tank contain ammonia which is toxic to the fish.  These wastes [...]

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