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Women Who Steward Urban Wildlife Habitat

BIRDLINK (Anina Gerchick, artist/landscape architect), Sara D. Roosevelt Park, New York NY

There is a long history of greening our cities from Boston's Emerald Necklace to the Chicago Wilderness, from 19-century boulevards to "million tree" planting initiatives, from Victory Gardens to community gardens. We have preserved remnants of "natural areas", restored landscapes to a preferred ecology, and made parks and gardens. Urban greening encompasses many different institutions and actors, policies and practices, and benefits. In this post, I highlight women who have spearheaded wildlife habitat projects. These women are stewarding natural resources where stewardship is defined as "consisting of six functions: conservation, management, education, advocacy, monitoring, and transformation" (STEW-MAP). This broad definition of stewardship is inclusive of the many ways in which people positively engage with the nature of cities.

The six women are:
  • Anina Gerschick - BIRDLINK (NYC)
  • Marni Majorelle - Kingsland Wildflowers (NYC)
  • Jane Martin - Plant*SF (San Francisco)
  • Amber Hasselbring - Garden for the Birds at the Sangati Center (San Francisco)
  • Sarah Bergmann - The Pollinator Pathway (Seattle)
  • Megan Draheim - District Coyote Project (Washington, DC) 

BIRDLINK (Anina Gerchick, artist/landscape architect), Sara D. Roosevelt Park, New York NY

Anina Gerschick - BIRDLINK (NYC)

Anina Gerschick is a painter and landscape architect. She is also the founder of BIRDLINK, a modular native bird habitat. Because she's an artist, the habitat installation is aesthetically pleasing. I met Anina last year when she was finalizing details to install BIRDLINK at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (SDR). The eco-art sculpture was planted in early June, and has gotten lots of press coverage. One of favorite pieces, This Art Project Could Help Make Cities More Habitable for Birds, was written by Bryony Angell for ABC Birds. Anina's long-term goal for the project is to create a BIRDLINK network that will expand habitat in urban sections of American flyways by infilling the mid-canopy layer. If you live in New York, visit the SDR BIRDLINK on Houston Street.

Marni Majorelle - Kingsland Wildflowers (NYC)

Marni Majorelle, owner of the green roof company Alive Structures, envisioned transforming warehouse roof space into bird and insect habitat. She collaborated with NYC Audubon and the owner of the Broadway Stages warehouse to submit a proposal to the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund which was established with a $25 million settlement from an Exxon Mobil oil spill. Kingsland Wildflower was funded at $971,782 and opened at 520 Kingsland Avenue in September 2016. The plant palette includes native grasses and flowers. NYC Audubon monitors bird, insect and bat populations.

Related Link - Women Who Speak for Urban Trees and Plants

Sarah Bergmann - The Pollinator Pathway (Seattle)

The original Pollinator Pathway is a one-mile corridor of mostly bio-regional native plants growing in sidewalk planting strips connecting two pollinator-friendly fragments in Seattle. "A pathway is the goal," writes Bergmann. The pathway connects two existing habitat fragments. From this first design project, founder Sarah Bergmann has conceptualized reintegrating ecological function in cities including a design kit for anyone to design a pollinator pathway.

Plant*SF garden at Harrison and 23rd, San Francisco

Jane Martin - Plant*SF 
Amber Hasselbring - Garden for the Birds at the Sangati Center (San Francisco)

I wrote about the projects spearheaded by Jane Martin and Amber Hasselbring about 10 years ago. I was exploring nature-making or designing with ecological intent to support ecosystem functions and improve environmental quality. Creating networks of gardens for stormwater management and plant habitat as well as wildlife corridors in urban sidewalks fit into my typology. I hope you'll follow the links above to read more about these urban ecology projects.

Megan Draheim - District Coyote Project (Washington, DC)

The District Coyote Project educates the public about coyotes and conducts research about coyote ecology and human-coyote interactions. The project is a departure from the other greening projects in several ways. One, the project does not vegetate landscapes. Two, it focuses on a single species, the coyote. Three, the physical scope of the project is much larger than the others, covering an entire metropolitan area. Four, citizen science is integral to the project. Coyote observations by people in the DC metro area are used in the project's research program.

The scope of these six projects is inspiring. I know there are other women managing our urban landscapes to benefit wildlife. Nominate yourself or tag a woman steward you know.


Bryony Angell said…
My goodness, two reasons to thank you! I am touched by your link to my pc about Anina for ABC, and also your introduction of Sarah Bergmann's work! I have known Sarah since we were rebel 14-year-olds! It's been since high school that I last knew what she was up to and it does not surprise me one bit that she's in architecture as she grew up in a custom home designed by her dad. I can't wait to reconnect with her. What a small world, thank you for this reminder.
local ecologist said…
Bryony, I've been working with Anina on some next steps for BIRDLINK. Your coverage of her project is so thoughtful it was must for me to highlight it.