A couple months ago I mentioned briefly the demise of the plastic pink flamingo. I can't think of these plastic waifs without thinking of an essay about these guys written by Jennifer Price. Price has written about some of the quirky off-beat ways that we Americans experience nature at the dawning of the 21st Century. Now, she has an article in Grist magazine asking why more nature writers aren't writing about nature in cities, where most of us live and experience nature.
While she makes some interesting points, its not like there isn't a lot of people writing about nature in cities. John points out that there are lots of bloggers writing about urban nature. There are lots of academic articles about urban birds and nature, a good number of books about the subject, and every year there are several books on the topic out by nature writers. Besides Over the Hedge and Hoot this year, we've seen several actual documentaries about birds in urban areas in the last few years, including Pale Male and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. There's lots of media attention to birds and nature in cities.
I still have a question, though. With all the media attention to birds and nature in cities, do these stories and films really help people connect with nature in a meaningful way, or do they just re-enforce the distances that most people have between their daily lived experiences and the animals and natural processes around them? Does nature writing really bring people to nature? Or merely to a blog, an article, a book, or a film?
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