The Concrete Jungle: Nature in an Urban Ecosystem
For the first time in history, the majority of people worldwide are living in cities. What does this mean for ecosystems across the planet and how does this change the way we experience the natural world? According to E.O. Wilson's biophilia hypothesis, humans have an instinctive bond with other living things, but as rapid urbanization continues, the nature near us disappears. How can we develop new ways to reconnect with nature and what roles do technology and digital media play in this effort? With backgrounds in the hard sciences, technology development and environmental activism, the panelists will share their experiences tackling these issues on the front lines of New York City. From the building of a popular city-wide festival for celebrating biodiversity to the launching of an award-winning mobile platform for citizen science, this panel will be of interest to urbanophiles, technologists, strategists, policy makers, and anyone else concerned about nature deficit disorder.
Marielle Anzelone’s work connects people to nature, with a focus on urban ecological issues, especially native flora. She is the founder and Executive Director of NYC Wildflower Week, which offers free cultural programs to experience and understand the wilds of the Big Apple. Expanding this model, in May 2012 she is launching National Urban Biodiversity Week. She also advises stakeholders on various biodiversity policies related to natural resource protections, local economic issues and public health and is a contributing policy advisor to New York City Council.
Marielle is a contributor to The New York Times and other publications. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, the BBC, Brian Lehrer Live TV, and WNYC. She was Botanist for the City of New York’s 12,000 acres of forests, meadows and marshes. Except for 15 months in Texas, she has lived among the plants of the New Jersey-New York metro area all of her life.
Yasser Ansari is the co-founder and chief leaf of Networked Organisms, a National Geographic-backed software company focused on helping people reconnect with the natural world. He studied molecular biology and bioinformatics at U.C. San Diego and spent time researching plant genomics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. After the lab, he moved into the wireless industry where he helped design and develop hand-held radiation detectors, gaming accessories, and new mobile software at companies including Kyocera, Qualcomm, and Peek. He earned his Master’s degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program where he is currently adjunct faculty. He holds several technology patents and likes frogs.