This Month | The American Agrarian myth celebrates the beauty and benefits of pastoral nature on farms and ranches, and it is grounded in an older Arcadian myth in Western culture, especially in the work of the Roman poet Virgil. Urban pastoral landscapes range from the open greens of parkland to gardens and urban farms, which are seen as a tonic for urbanites who suffer from “nature deficits” and can be cure by spending a Sunday in the park or growing vegetables and raising chickens. This lecture will recount the history of the idea of pastoral nature and the Arcadian myth in urban America.
Parking | Visitor parking is available at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, and at Palmer Events Center by request. Please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, prior to the event if you would like to Park at Palmer for free. I cannot give reimbursements for parking.
A Note From Nature in the City | Seating is first come, first serve. Please fill in all available seats farthest from the entry door first as a courtesy to other attendees. We thank you!
The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures will explore the complex relationship between the city and nature in America. Our American narrative of nature celebrates wilderness or “pristine nature” and rural or “pastoral nature” in contrast to the degradation of urban landscapes. However, we are now predominately a country of urbanites who have only recreational contact with wilderness or pastoral nature. To compensate for our urban “nature deficit”, we have incorporated “green space” into our cities – preserves, parks, farms, and gardens – to allow for contact with officially sanctioned approximations of wild and pastoral nature in the urban landscape. Ecologists are called on to mediate and to assess whether it is a real ecosystem, and thereby add another chapter to the narrative entitled “urban ecology” in which science measures ecological cycles and ecosystem function in the city. The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures are an attempt to disentangle this complex story of ecology, culture, and the American City and, perhaps, to give us all a better understanding of urban nature and the role it plays in our lives.
Kevin is a geographer and philosopher researching the nature of, and the nature in, urban wastelands. He studied at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania [BA], Durham University, England, Ohio University [MA] where he taught philosophy and symbolic logic. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation entitled: Marginal Nature: Urban Wastelands and the Geography of Nature. His research interests include sewage treatment, soil ecology, and sustainable agriculture, urban ecology and sustainability, riparian ecology, environmental history, philosophy, and literature. He is a co-founder of the Texas Riparian Association and the Upper Tisza Foundation in northeastern Hungary. He runs the Austin Water-Center for Environmental Research which focuses on soil, sewage recycling, and environmental trace contaminants; rivers, riparian ecology, and alluvial aquifers; cities, biodiversity, and avian ecology.
Brought to you by Austin Water Utility, Center for Environmental Research (CER), The University of Texas, Texas A&M University. Nature in the City – Austin is sponsored by the Community Trees Division, and helps to implement the Imagine Austin and Urban Forest Plans.