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urban ecologies conference 2

Exciting news, dear readers!

Your Urban Geographer is taking his urban theorizing out of the blogosphere and into the world at OCAD University’s Urban Ecologies Conference this June! Yes, a spring-time return to my beloved Toronto is near.

As a “Poster Presenter”, I will be creating a whimsical and interactive experience featuring a series of animations/GIFs that I have been developing since my 2011 Fuller Lecture. You can read my proposal to the Urban Ecologies Conference here.



Clips from my 2011 Fuller Lecture – “Everything is Everything”

The broad theme of the presentation will be the accessible expression of the theories of Urban Political Ecology. Though the sub-field is a highly convoluted, academic, jargony time, at it’s heart is the philosophical, deeply poetic and very important concept that humans are not separate from the ecology that surrounds them. Urban systems are natural systems, and if we shift our thought, we can build them to be more agreeable with their surrounding non-human ecosystems, and never hostile. We can also begin to address the social injustices that occur as a result of our inevitable impact on the planet, rather than focusing on conservation (which treats nature as something other to us – a commodity – to be exploited).

Ecology is urbanization, and urbanization is ecology” said Michael Hough, an important nature-culture landscape architect. He is the author of Cities and Natural Processa book that will figure prominently in my research for the presentation.

So, readers, I look forward to this project and sharing it with you! I am excited to think broadly about nature-culture and urban ecology while focusing on specific examples from my personal geographies in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.

See you at the Urban Ecologies Conference in June!

tree& in this vein, Christopher Hume recently wrote an excellent homage to the late Michael Hough, a Toronto-based landscape architect that intuitively understood the interdependencies of nature and cities, and tirelessly promoted this philosophy.

“Ecology is urbanization,” he declared, “and urbanization is ecology.”

See also tuin./town.


I am pleased to present to you a sampling of clips/animated GIFs from my presentation Everything is Everything (Urban Political Ecology: Politicizing Urban Natures). The animation is based on a body of academic literature and my thesis work at McGill University. It is a playful visualization that is multi-disciplinary, informed by history, philosophy, geography, ecology and geology.

I am continuing to develop the presentation, and am currently expanding it by animating poignant examples of urban-nature from my native Toronto. The examples there are abundant, and the results will be inevitably whimsical.

I will keep you updated with my process, but for now enjoy clips from Everything is Everything as presented at the 2011 Fuller Terrace Lecture Series‘ evening of talks themed “The Nature of Things


Though trees and modernist buildings seem diametrically opposed, they are both the result of the processing of material from the earth. Both their designs are repetitive, and logically follow from basic units:


Our cities are built on top of and out of the earth. The quintessential wood paneled houses of Halifax are made from the trees that used to cover the Peninsula. The glass and steel that compose the city’s skyscrapers, though from farther away, are too the result of natural processes:


As human populations (i.e. western imperial societies) grew and spread over the surface of the planet, so did their systems of reason and rationality. At first, Nature was conceived as terrifying, something to be revered and despised. But as untouched Nature began to become scarce, receding in the face of increased population and technology, it became something to be desired, enjoyed, conserved. Nature is a fluid concept:


The world is complex, and it’s often hard to draw a line between where the natural ends and the artificial begins:


Like the bees, we gain our energy from fruits and vegetables, which stem from flowers. The bees use their energy to build their hives, and we, our cities:


I read a lot of online blogs and magazines about cities. This post is part of a new series of quote-shares from my internet travels: 



As you’ve read before, my undergrad thesis at McGill University was to focus on urban agriculture, using the concepts of Urban Political Ecology. UPE is a post-structuralist, Marxist body of literature that seeks to unfix the false dichotomy of nature and culture in order to understand the power structures that determine the winners and losers of our inevitable impact on the planet.

As your Urban Geographer, I have continued to research, write about and explore this artificial nature-society binary. Through my activities, projects and art I have sought to offer poignant examples where the constructed borders of nature and society meet. Cities, as you can imagine, offer infinite examples of such.

As I have recently applied to be a speaker at OCAD’s 2013 Urban Ecologies conference, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some quotes that will clarify the project of Urban Political Ecology to you, my readers, but also to me! I found these quote boxes on Understanding Social Science – a useful blog that puts otherwise esoteric concepts into clear, accessible language.