What is the Urban Ecology Center?

The Urban Ecology Podcast – Episode 1

Remember those early months of 2020, when we found ourselves adjusting to life at home, connecting to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors with increasing trepidation? Ken Leinbach hoped that a new venture for the Urban Ecology Center, a podcast, might be yet another way of to share the story of the Center and to keep people linked with the ongoing work, even in the midst of a global pandemic.


Fueled by encouragement from a veteran and expert in this medium, Richie Burke of GGMM, Jeff McEvoy and I began exploring the steps we would take to begin recording and posting an ongoing series of interviews and conversations about the Center. It quickly became clear that another member of the UEC team, Danny Pirtle, had the experience, talent, and focus to take our vague understanding and make it a reality. Danny hosted this episode and seven more that followed.

We decided that the first episode would focus on the most basic (and important!) question that listeners might need answered: what IS the Urban Ecology Center? We suspected that if we asked four people, we might get four different answers (and if we asked forty others, we’d get forty more answers). And while that may be true, we also knew that there would be commonalities among those answers.

So, to start out, we spoke with the first staff member hired at the Center, Carijean Buhk. For dynamic contrast, we also asked the most recent addition to the staff, Van Johnson. We got additional perspectives from one long-time volunteer, Pat Mueller, and from a young and very enthusiastic neighbor who participates and volunteers regularly in the Center’s programming, Analiese Rosales-Garcia. While these views may offer the extremes of UEC staff and membership, they also represent the range and scope of what the Center offers.

We chose to have various staff and volunteers involved in the process of interviewing. It was an experiment that has helped to shape our ongoing method. Danny pulled it all together, with wit and a lively charm. They (Danny’s pronouns are they/them) also added a depth of production skill that raised the level to a height we did not anticipate but immediately appreciated.

One element that we believed would be critical to the podcast is Ken’s voice and insight. We considered the possibility of having him host the episodes, but we soon realized that even with his abundant energy, there are only so many hours in the day. We opted for a concluding message that we now variously refer to as “The Final Word with Ken” or “Final Thoughts with Ken.” You’ll want to listen to the end of every episode to hear how the many topics we explore relate back to the mission of the Center, to connect people in cities to nature and each other.

If you haven’t already had a chance to listen to this pioneering effort, please tune in soon! And we hope you will leave a review on your favorite podcast app to support the work of sharing this story.

Originally dropped: 11/16/20

Thank you!

Chris Young, Project Manager, Urban Ecology Center Institute

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