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Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment

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cities

Chicago Series #2: Environmental Justice

Hazel Johnson is now known as the “mother of the environmental justice movement,” but back in 1979 she was a mother of seven children with respiratory and skin problems, and the widow of a husband who died from lung cancer a decade prior. Living in Altgeld Gardens on the South Side of Chicago, in a housing project that was surrounded by factories, landfills, industrial buildings, and sewage treatment plants, Johnson began to investigate the chronic health impacts on her community from surrounding air and water pollution. She learned that her family and her neighbors had been exposed to toxic fumes, asbestos, and contaminated drinking water, and that her community had the highest cancer rate in the city – leading her to call Altgeld Gardens “The Toxic Donut.”

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Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change

I moved to Chicago almost seven months ago, and I’ve found many Midwest stereotypes to be true – the people are very friendly, the winters are very cold, the food is crazy good, and the beer is even better. But one stereotype – that the Midwest won’t suffer any severe consequences of climate change – is completely false. While we don’t have hurricanes, and live right next to the largest body of fresh water in America, the Midwest is not exempt from climate impacts – and has plenty to worry about as Earth warms.

Continue reading “Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change”

Chile Part 4: One Week North

Even though it’s now been two months since my trip to Chile (sorry for the blogging hiatus – moving to Chicago and starting a new job took over my life), I am still immensely grateful for my six-week adventure there. My last big adventure in Chile was to the Atacama Desert, which is the most arid place in the world (besides the poles), and receives the highest radiation and celestial exposure – which means it is very dry, the sun is extremely strong, and the stars are incredible. Even though I was there during a full moon, I could still see the Milky Way and thousands of stars filling every corner of the night sky. Continue reading “Chile Part 4: One Week North”

Chile Part 1: Family and Exploring the Big City

After an unintentional break from blogging, during which I graduated from college, I embarked on a six week trip to Chile. My mom and her family are Chilean, and since I´ve only been here once, I decided that now was the right time to rediscover my roots and explore the country for a few weeks. I´m now one week in, and wanted to share some of the things I´ve done and my overall impressions of this beautiful place so far.

Almost immediately after getting off the plane, I joined a huge family lunch of 15 people in total. We had a beautiful meal with food from Chiloe, cooked by my amazing aunt. It was such a gift to be surrounded by family who welcomed me to Chile, and to reunite with people I hadn´t seen since I was six years old! We spent the afternoon in typical Sunday style, eating, talking, and relaxing together. Continue reading “Chile Part 1: Family and Exploring the Big City”

If You Like Piña Colada(s) and Getting Caught in the Rain…

Then Puerto Rico is the place to be! Bryant and I traveled there last week for spring break, and while we only drank one piña colada and got caught in the rain just once, it was a fantastic trip. We were there for six days and experienced a wide variety of settings in such a short amount of time, experiencing the urban history of San Juan, examining the Caribbean reef ecosystem up close while scuba diving, beach-hopping in remote Vieques, and hiking through the dense jungle of El Yunque. Continue reading “If You Like Piña Colada(s) and Getting Caught in the Rain…”

NYC’s High Line, and the Injustice It Represents

The lush green vines billow in the city breeze, muffled by the quiet roar of stamping feet and tourists’ conversations. The neat slices of sidewalk meld with the garden beds, tracing a line to the half-finished skyscrapers. The elevated walkway peers over the manicured streets, with glitzy shops and storefronts lighting up the avenue.

Twenty years ago, this place was sketchy during the day, and extremely dangerous at night. This is New York City’s Meatpacking District. This is the High Line.

Continue reading “NYC’s High Line, and the Injustice It Represents”

Urban Sustainability in Madrid

Para leer el artículo en español, por favor desplácese hacia abajo.

My time in Madrid, unfortunately, is almost over, so this blog post is the last one (for the moment) written in Spanish and English. I have traveled so much during the quarter, as you can see from my previous blog posts, but I’ve also been taking lots of classes, including a class about Earth and Water Sustainability in Spain. It’s been my favorite class and we’ve learned so much, not only about general sustainability themes and scientific concepts, but also about the challenges and priorities of sustainability and the environment in a city as modern and big and with the history of Madrid. Continue reading “Urban Sustainability in Madrid”

Touring Madrid’s Countryside: Toledo and Segovia

Para leer el artículo en español, por favor desplácese hacia abajo.

This weekend my parents were here to visit me and to visit Spain. They already are familiar with Spain because they had their honeymoon here 22 years ago and my mom also studied in Valencia when she was my age. We stayed in Madrid during the weekend, and went to the Museo del Prado, Gran Vía, the Austrias region, the Biblioteca Nacional, the Parque del Retiro, the Museo Thyseen-Bornemizsa, and the Mercado del Rastro. But my favorite thing was a trip for one day to Toledo. Continue reading “Touring Madrid’s Countryside: Toledo and Segovia”

That One Time I Met the King of Spain (And Other Adventures)

Para leer el artículo en español, por favor desplácese hacia abajo.

I started my weekend with a visit to the Palacio Real – I had seen the palace before from the outside, but I had not entered the palace. In a lot of ways, it’s very similar to other European palaces – lots of gold, lots of rooms, lots of wealth and colors – and I’ve also visited similar palaces in Italy and Portugal. But the significance of visiting this palace in this moment was very unique, in the context of Spain’s history and also my own life. Continue reading “That One Time I Met the King of Spain (And Other Adventures)”

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