Recent Stories

Preserving the lands of the wealthy

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill. Image: Historic Hyde Park

A stretch of New York’s Hudson Valley is known for its old wealth, stately mansions—and encroaching new wealth and development.

In the words of the National Park Service, “For nearly two centuries, this place has been home to socially prominent New Yorkers.

It still is, and increasingly so. Median household income of $71,508 in 2008-12 is up by 34.70 percent since 2000.

Those pressures make it imperative to preserve what can be preserved of the land and the culture.
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Why Small Parks Matter

Burcham golf ball signs

Ask natural scientists why small parks matter and you’ll hear about habitats, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and buffer zones between developments. Ask the same question to social scientists and you’ll hear about maintaining human connections with nature, centers of community concern, neighborhood identity and healthy outdoor activities. Small parks can even serve a public policy purpose as a political rallying point. That happened last year in Turkey when government plans to develop 9-acre Taksim Gezi Park – one of Istanbul’s smallest parks and among the few remaining green spaces in the city’s Beyoğlu district– triggered sit-ins and national demonstrations. From a humanist as well as scientific perspective, poet-environmental activist Wendell Berry has written that we need not cherish just the great public wildernesses” but small ones as well. Continue Reading →

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Lake Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes named nation’s favorite beauty

Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook Lake Michigan. Photo: University of Chicago Library, Special Collections

If it’s a beauty pageant, then Lake Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes is certainly the crowd favorite. Good Morning America voters recently named it one of the most beautiful places in the country. And its 35 miles of sandy beaches and crystal waters earned it a top spot on a beach expert’s best Great Lakes beaches in July. Host Josh Elliott visited Lake Michigan’s best-kept secret and called the dunes “stunning monuments to the passage of time.” They formed when ice sheets melted and formed glacial lakes, pushing rock debris to the shoreline. Now covered in sand, the dunes have captured national attention for their beauty; they are even celebrity chef Mario Batali’s favorite vacation spot. Continue Reading →

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