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Still the Same Hawk:Reflections on Nature and New York

Reflections on Nature and New York

John Waldman

Publication Year: 2012

A groundbreaking new book, Still the Same Hawk: Reflections on Nature and New York brings into conversation diverse and intriguing perspectives on the relationship between nature and America's most prominent city. The volume's title derives from a telling observation in Robert Sullivan's contribution that considers how a hawk in the city is perceived so much differently from a hawk in the countryside. Yet it's still the same hawk. How can a hawk nesting above Fifth Avenue become a citywide phenomenon? Or a sudden butterfly migration at Coney Island energize the community? Why does the presence of a community garden or an empty lot ripple so differently through the surrounding neighborhood? Is the city an oasis or a desert for biodiversity? Why does nature even matter to New Yorkers, who choose to live in the concrete jungle? Still the Same Hawk examines these questions with a rich mix of creative nonfiction that ranges from analytical to anecdotal and humorous. John Waldman's sharp, well-crafted introduction presenting dualism as the defining quality of urban nature is followed by compelling contributions from Besty McCully, Christopher Meier, Tony Hiss, Kelly McMasters, Dara Ross, William Kornblum, Phillip Lopate, David Rosane, Robert Sullivan, Anne Matthews, Devin Zuber, and Frederick Buell. Together these pieces capture a wide range of viewpoints, including the myriad and shifting ways New Yorkers experience and consider the outdoors, the historical role of nature in shaping New York's development, what natural attributes contribute to New York's regional identity, the many environmental tradeoffs made by urbanization, and even nature's dark side where "urban legends" flourish. Still the Same Hawk intermingles elements of natural history, urban ecology, and environmental politics, providing fresh insights into nature and the urban environment on one of the world's great stages for the clash of these seemingly disparate realms--New York City.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

This book would not exist save for the generosity of the late labor negotiator and philanthropist Theodore Kheel. Ted Kheel, as he was known, developed a passion for urban nature and sustainability near the end of his long and productive life. This interest prompted his funding of a new institute at the City...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

This dualism also was a defining quality of my life; I was fortunate to be both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I grew up well within New York City limits, in a private house on a busy street in the northeast Bronx, walking distance to the elevated subway and only a few doors from an expressway. All day our home...

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Monarchs of the Urban Mind

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pp. 13-20

On a cloudless September Sunday in 1984, thousands of monarch butterflies descended from the sky to nectar on seaside goldenrods, their collective weight bending the stalks down. One might expect migrating monarchs in a country field, but not in the rock rubble of a Manhattan Beach jetty. Rumors...

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Welcome to the H2O Region—Your Second Address!

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pp. 21-28

Not long ago we published a book—H2O: Highlands to Ocean— trying to call attention to an astonishing, seemingly unlikely, and often almost invisible fact: the natural world of the New York–New Jersey metropolitan region, site of relentless growth and development for almost four hundred years...

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Public Place, Brooklyn

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pp. 29-36

Iturned my face away from the small, squat building, watching the cloud-white jet streams streak through the blue Brooklyn sky. Leaning against a pea-green fire hydrant, painted the same color as the house behind it, I waited for the real estate agent to return from touring the other prospective renter...

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Corner Garden

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pp. 37-46

The D train rumbles underground as heat rising in waves from subway grates makes corner-store flowers wilt. But here, before the bulldozers, in the name of affordable housing, came into the garden that we made of this vacant lot, summer sun made budding flowers bloom. I miss our garden as I walk down...

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A Land Ethic for the City

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pp. 47-62

Students who take the risk of registering in my undergraduate environmental sociology course at Queens College will encounter the following poem in the first five minutes of the first day of class. It’s not one of Robert Frost’s best-known works, but it serves extremely well to get students thinking concretely...

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Can Naturalists and UrbanistsFind Happiness Together?

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pp. 63-70

Why does nature matter to New Yorkers? Or maybe the question to be asked is: Why should New York and other big cities matter to naturalists? And can naturalists and urbanists find happiness together? We might all agree that they should find happiness together, but not necessarily that they can find happiness...

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Can You Eat in Soup?

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pp. 71-84

My friend John Waldman has asked me the following question: ‘‘Does nature matter to New Yorkers?’’ I asked him, ‘‘Is the Pope Catholic?’’ My first premise: the world as we know it is going to hell in a handbasket. Our entire planet is in a state of overshoot. In one year we consume what the earth needs...

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The Dark Side; or, My Time Spentin the Nature That People Would Rather Not Think About

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pp. 85-100

If nature were a political candidate, and if newspapers and television networks took surveys of the public’s opinion of nature, then nature would, at this moment in the twenty-first century, most likely have, to use the pollsters’ phrase, high positives. For the majority of Americans who live in suburbs or the...

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The Futures of New York

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pp. 101-108

Taking New Jersey Transit from Princeton Junction to New York’s Penn Station means a fifty-eight-minute trek (off-peak, one way) through a profoundly disturbed landscape of chemical mudflats and industrial slurb. Yet crossing theMeadowlands one bleak February morning, I saw from my commuter...

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Imagination, Beauty,and the Urban Land Ethic

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pp. 109-121

The problem with nature in New York is that there isn’t any. A student said this to me in a class I was teaching, Environmental Literature, in response to a question I had asked about how one can maintain contact with nature and the wild in New York. Her response was typical of an attitude...

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Nature in New York

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pp. 122-146

The writers in this volume see themselves, for the most part, as coming to their subjects with both a special urgency and a sense of doing something almost outrageous, against the grain, counterintuitive. To that one can add a touch of that populist form of civic pride New Yorkers know and cultivate, the theatrical arrogance of doing it in the Big Apple, on the largest stage there...

Contributors

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pp. 147-152


E-ISBN-13: 9780823250554
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823249893
Print-ISBN-10: 0823249891

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 24 b/w
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Text