Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment



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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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 3: Two Weeks South

During the second half of July, I headed to Chile’s beautiful southern lake region, about halfway between Santiago and Punta Arenas. An inspiring landscape of volcanoes covered in snow, rushing turquoise rivers, green coastal cliffs, and deep blue lakes, it was my first taste of a very different Chilean landscape. I’ve been learning and talking a lot about how many different ecosystems Chile has along its 4,000-km length, but it was amazing to experience it first hand. In my two weeks south, I explored the outdoors, learned about the history of the region, discovered more about my family heritage, and got a taste of the culture of the south. Continue reading “Chile Part 3: Two Weeks South”

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”

Top 10 Kick-Ass Female Environmentalists to Watch

We’ve all heard of Sylvia Earle, Rachel Carson, Gina McCarthy, and Jane Goodall, and there is no doubt that they are all heroines and role models to me. But there are so many more kick-ass women coming up in the ranks of environmental activism right now that I knew it would be amiss not to share my list. This is not comprehensive by any means – there are so many amazing women doing great things for the planet, known and unknown. But as a woman and as an environmentalist, here are ten incredible females that I am looking to for inspiration in this time of deep challenge and struggle: Continue reading “Top 10 Kick-Ass Female Environmentalists to Watch”

Why the Electoral College Failed to Surprise

On Monday, December 19th at 9am, I walked up the steps to the Colorado State Capitol. It was 16 degrees and a small crowd had gathered, holding signs that ranged from “Stop Trump” to “Electors: Vote Your Conscience”. My family and I had traveled to Denver on this day to voice our tremendous concerns about President-elect Trump, to show our support for an Electoral College “revolt” (however far-fetched it seemed), and to simply be a part of history. Continue reading “Why the Electoral College Failed to Surprise”

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”

The Last Week of European Adventures: Paris, Prague, and Vienna

Even though I finished my final exams in Madrid on December 7th, I wanted to use every one of the 90 days I’m allowed in Europe without a visa as an American citizen, so I decided to bookend my quarter abroad with visits to three more European cities. It was exciting to add three more countries to my list and to experience new cultures, foods, and sights before heading back home. Continue reading “The Last Week of European Adventures: Paris, Prague, and Vienna”

What Halloween Looks Like in Barcelona

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Last weekend, I went to Barcelona with my group from Stanford. We were only there for three days, but we did so much and I learned so much about the history, culture, and present of Cataluña. I also discovered my new favorite architect and visited some of the most famous and important sites of the city. Instead of listing all the things that I did, I’m going to talk about my trip in the context of four themes: Cataluña, the development of the city, the architecture, and the holiday of Halloween, because we were in Barcelona on October 31st. Continue reading “What Halloween Looks Like in Barcelona”

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