Today I read a wonderful article about a friend, Dave Magpiong, who is doing great work with urban children and in enhancing diversity in conservation (see Focus on Diversity III - Changing the Face of American Birding Conference on Facebook or at http://www.fledgingbirders.org/CFAB.html). The article on Dave's work can be found at http://articles.philly.com/2013-06-19/news/40050535_1_camden-school-birding-tom-knoche.
Twice this week, I heard pieces on WHYY out of Philly about Camden that, of course, focused on the bad -- the abandoned industrial plants, the crime, the violence...the poverty and unemployment. A lament for a city that once made major contributions to the world wars, but now was a scar on the promise of the "American Dream." But Dave's story is a different take on the city. It is the type of story about initiatives that will not only change the lives of children he works with, but of an entire community. And kudos to NPR's Marketplace for showing how Camden might be perceived as a leader in some areas: http://www.camdenhealth.org/nprs-marketplace-follows-the-affordable-care-act-through-the-eyes-of-camden/.
One of our graduates this spring is going to Cooper Medical School in Camden, a destination of choice for her. Her senior Honors project was on "Inequalities in Health Care Access", and her dream is to be of help in poor, blighted areas - a place where she believes that she can truly make a difference. So many students say this in their application essays and interviews, but few would be willing to prove it to this degree. Best of everything to you Margaret.
My place of birth, Detroit, is getting hammered in the media these day for its financial woes. For quite sometime, this beleaguered city was known by most as "the murder capital of the U.S." I lived there until I was almost 6, and my memories are of a different Detroit. My great grandmother's backyard cottage garden. Small, but lovely. No one could grow roses like she could. She was a lone "hold-out" white person in a neighborhood of African Americans, a spunky Polish immigrant whose native tongue was better than her English. But those neighbors protected her during the race riots of the 1960's. I remember sitting on our front porch with my dad as he called out to the Bob-white Quail in the field across the street. Flash floods during summer thunderstorms, picnics, and walking to school - something I have not done since kindergarten. I remember great deli stores, and of course, the auto companies. Ford was omnipresent.
I loved the 2011 Super Bowl commercial about Detroit, done by Eminem and Chrysler. It certainly showed Detroit in a different light.
I am not an urban gal. I have lived in Detroit and Philadelphia, but I am most comfortable on my rural farm or on the shores of one of the Great Lakes -- away from crowds and noise. But I realize the importance of worrying about our urban kids and streets, the parks and waterfronts, the heat islands and safe green spaces. Perhaps a bit more of our conservation efforts should focus on these places and the people that inhabit them.