Towering western mountains roofed by perennial snow. Deep-cut canyons carved out of ancient sediment. Those images of grandeur are magnetic. But epic landscapes are not how most people experience the outdoors. The wonders of nature are witnessed everyday right outside one’s window, or just down the street. From pocket park oases to the swaying, stream-side willows of a county green space, neighborhood nature is vitally important to neighborhood people (that’s all of us!).
For the annual Earth Day festivities, this year the Urban Ecology Center is partnering with the Great Waters Group of the Sierra Club to celebrate our urban wilderness. These urban green spaces are vital to our lives, providing peace, safety, food, fun, exercise and community, as well as vital to maintaining native plants and animals among us. These special places deserve recognition and celebration. That’s exactly what we are going to do.
On April 23, the Washington Park branch will be hosting work crews for a variety of service projects in the park. Meanwhile, inside the UEC building, organizations from around southeast Wisconsin will be showcasing their work and leading educational demonstrations. Also on display will be entrants to our urban wilderness expression contest (please see contest article for more details). At 12 p.m. all of the service work will be complete and guests will be treated to a hard-earned lunch and a short program in celebration of our urban wilderness. During the program, winning entrants for the contest will be announced and their work performed. Venice Williams, the director of Alice’s Garden Urban Farm, will close our Earth Day with wise and inspiring words.
In order to help us celebrate, the groups will be sponsoring a contest for people of all ages to artistically answer the question: “What is your favorite local green space or park, and why?” We encourage all people in the Milwaukee area to answer this question in words, artwork, video, song or dance. Prizes will be given out to all age groups (12 and under, 13-17, and 18+), with the winners announced at the Earth Day celebration on April 23. For more information, visit the Sierra Club at http://www.greatwatersgroup.org/J3x/.