Culture Nature : Nature Culture

March has been an in-depth month of Cultural Landscape discussion, from the foundational theme of culture-nature bondedness. 

Renate Sander-Regier kicked off this spring's Willowbank Lectures with a lively discussion about human-nature relations. The lectures have become a springtime ritual, when Willowbank hosts the community after a long winter, and neighbours discuss brain-tickling topics over coffee.

In the sun-warmed Bright Salon, we shared our favourite places to connect with nature, ranging from the backyard to the beach, and discussed feelings of being a part of versus apart from nature. In her research, Renate has tapped into the myriad ways people enhance their well-being by connecting with nature, often through acts of ecological stewardship.  Her study of the Fletcher Wildlife Gardens illuminates the mutual benefits of volunteering in the natural environment there.  I was particularly intrigued by the steadfast efforts of urbanites working to daylight their cities' Lost Rivers, which has become a global movement to free these natural features from human control.

Fellow classmates Sahra Campbell, Angus Affleck and I were fortunate to attend an annual roundtable discussion at Université de Montréal on the same nature-culture topic, this time through the lens of World Heritage. I'm excited to share our contribution to the discussion here, in the next few days. In the meantime, Willowbank 2nd years are putting many "faces to names" in Ottawa this week, exploring key projects in our nation's capital, visiting some of our favourite instructors' work spaces, and learning about the specific challenges of concrete.  More on that later too!