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Coyotes in DC

September 20, 2017
Coyote Portrait

Coyote, (c) Matt Knoth via Wikimedia Commons

I recently wrote an article for DCist.com on living with coyotes in Washington, D.C. Check it out!

 

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Cartagena, Part I

August 18, 2017
Cartagena 2

Getsemani, Cartagena, (c) Megan Draheim, 2017

Last month I was able to travel to beautiful Cartagena, Colombia for the International Congress for Conservation Biology, the Society for Conservation Biology’s biennial international meeting. I’ll be writing more about this soon, but wanted first to link to a post I wrote for my department about it, partially focusing on a presentation I co-wrote for the meeting.

More to come!

Raccoons in Fairlington

July 27, 2017
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By Ken Rushia – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29208540

I wrote an article in DCist about raccoon-human conflict in Fairlington, which is in a suburb of DC in Virginia. The complex has an interesting garbage policy: residents leave out their trash in garbage bags only (no trash cans) six days a week, which provides a ready supply of easy meals for all sorts of animals. When wildlife becomes used to the idea that such food supplies are linked closely to human presence, bad things can happen (this also happens from intentional feedings). This can have extremely poor outcomes for both humans (bites, scratches, or worse) and the wildlife (many times animals like that will be captured and killed). Have you ever heard the expression, “a fed bear is a dead bear”? It’s sadly often true. So please don’t feed the wildlife!

 

Sea Level Rise in Maryland

July 15, 2017

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This isn’t necessarily specifically urban in nature, but I thought worth posting anyway. A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates the damage sea level rise is going to do to coastal communities, including those rather close to home for me: the coastal towns of Maryland. That’s not new, of course, but the timeline they present is quite chilling. The Washington Post reports, for example, that 22 communities in Maryland (out of 91 in the entire US) will face “chronic inundation” by 2035. This is a good reminder that we not only need to find ways to halt climate change progression, but also need to adapt to conditions that are going to change.

 

Odds and Ends

April 2, 2017
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Public Domain via the EPA: http://bit.ly/2opJgH8

Here’s an essay I wrote for the Oxford University Press’ blog, on how to effectively talk about the policy threats our environment is currently facing.

The unintended effect of calling our “fake news.”

Hope you find it useful!

Pigeons

March 24, 2017
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(c) Megan Draheim, 2017

I’ve posted photos of pigeons before. Much-maligned, pigeons are actually a favorite of mine. If you’ve ever stopped to look closely at them, they’re really quite beautiful, and you have to respect their ability to survive where many other animals cannot (they’re also not dummies, as it turns out). They’re not a native species — technically, they’re feral — but they’re not invasive either (in other words, they don’t compete and win against native species). Many people are not very tolerant of them, but perhaps that also says something about how they relate to the non-human world?

In any case, I took this shot up in Baltimore last week, at the Harbor, as part of my 365 photo project this year (you can follow it on Instagram!).

Nature and Art and Birds at Hopkins

March 16, 2017

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I’ve written before about the healing powers of nature, and even where we can find nature and representations of nature in hospitals. I’ve been wandering around Johns Hopkins in Baltimore lately, looking at their amazing art collection (I love that this is a “thing” in many hospitals). One day I came across a long hallway with 26 framed photos of a water garden:

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Each of them had a different smudge of paint on the mat, and the same color board on the bridge. At the end of the hallway was a description of what was going on. The water garden was, of course, Giverny, where Monet painted many of his most famous works. The artist in this case was Spencer Finch, who helped to design some of the exterior of the hospital using this color scheme. As the statement read:

…Finch distilled 26 shades of blue, green, purple, yellow and gray from the palette of the famous French Impressionist painter… Each of the 26 photographs documents a panel painted with one of the artist’s colors, poised on Monet’s footbridge and reflected in the lily pond. Finch’s paint brush and pencil notations below each photograph record the particular color as well as its descriptive name.

These colors are then replicated on the outside of the building (see above and here):

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Finch’s ‘alphabet’ of 26 colors can be found on the building’s reflective exterior, painted on aluminum panels and encased in glass shadowboxes… Along the eastern side of the building, on Wolfe Street, one can find Finch’s entire color spectrum, arranged as they are here, alphabetically by the name of the color.

More of Finch’s work can be found on many of the windows in that part of the hospital, including glass walkways.

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Recalling Money’s brushstrokes and the rippling of water, Finch developed a unique ‘frit’ pattern for the building’s glass. A two-layer composition, his hand-drawn strokes are fused onto the building’s glass curtain wall, reflecting and refracting light and shadows.

A benefit of this is that the glass becomes safer for birds! Birds can see the design, so are less likely to crash into the structure as they can’t see glass. A friend of mine who’s an architect well-versed in bird-friendly design said that the pattern would ideally be a little closer together, but that the design is still likely effective. I think it’s a great example of art meeting conservation biology, with the added bonus that this design is rather soothing to look at — in keeping with the idea that nature and representations of nature are healing to people.

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If you’re interested in bird-friendly glass, check out this article from Nat Geo and this two-parter from NPR.

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A wood thrush (the official bird of Washington, D.C.!), a species that has been found to collide with windows. (c) Cheep Shot, 2013, via WikiMedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

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