Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In all the greenspaces in between

Welcome to my greenspace adventure!

Urban greenspaces: the parks, parkettes, conservation areas, trails, river corridors, cemeteries...I am visiting, observing, and learning! Earlier, I had planned to go through a the list of parks in Toronto, but in the current transient nature of my life, it has been difficult to use that strategy.

But - Oh the places I've been! I have been blessed with the opportunity to see some fresh ground, and so my adventure has expanded beyond Toronto to Whitehorse, Waterloo and Hamilton.

So, a new objective: To explore and document stories about urban greenspaces.

Why? A list.
1. I like stories. There are so many layers to be told, including those about the city history, ecology, and the personal.
2. I love cities, and this is a chance to explore it!
3. I want to learn the stories of the green spaces in urban places: their ecological histories and statuses, and the role they play in the lives of the city and its citizens. (Ugh, that sounds like the beginnings of an undergraduate thesis title. Loosey goosey and full of somewhat naive ideals...hmmm, sounds just like me! Perfect. haha.)

Rachael rediscovering the city

When I started my program at University of Waterloo, Environment and Resource Studies, I felt a bit out of place. Feeling like the only student in my class who hadn't led canoe trips in Algonquin Park, I have lived in and loved Toronto for most of my life, and confess I am fully a city mouse. 
 (I have to "confess" with a little shame because everyone knows City Mouse is a huge wimp compared to dear Country Mouse)

I know many city-dwellers travel beyond our concrete to cottage or camp in Ontario's wilder places, but I simply hadn't had a true experience of this yet. My family, my circle of friends - we simply didn't do this. Our grandparents didn't own cottages we could go to in the summer - they had owned Chinese restaurants and laundromats, no island in Georgian Bay.

Whatever my excuses, I was not sure how I could be in this program as someone who would rather be navigating subway routes rather than hiking trails. Clearly I have much to learn in life. I now have been exposed to Algonquin Park, trails, and rural areas, canoeing and it's all wonderful. I needed my horizons expanded.

But I also learned that
the city is an amazing diverse place,
with hidden bits of wild everywhere.

Further, urban policy is changing and forming, seeing greenspaces in entirely new and exciting ways. That said, cities can also do "nature" incredibly wrong, causing great harm, struggling to balance the needs of diverse park users, and neighbours of  both Kingdoms Plantae, and Animalia (and  Monera, Protista and Fungi, I guess). The world is rapidly urbanizing, and much rests on how maintain, protect, and create greenspace as we do that.

Okay, let's go! Let's learn!

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