Writing Urban Nature

Hiking through Busse Woods, a National Natural Landmark woodland-wetland mosaic in the NW suburbs of Chicago (photo: M. Bryson, May 2015)

Hiking through Busse Woods, a National Natural Landmark woodland-wetland mosaic in the NW suburbs of Chicago (photo: M. Bryson, May 2015)

Since May of 2015, Roosevelt University students have written original works of creative nonfiction in SUST 360 Writing Urban Nature, an environmental literature and writing course which explores “nature close at hand” at sites of ecological and cultural significance in the Chicago region. This one-week all-outdoors seminar places strong emphasis on close observation of place and people; walking and exploring landscapes and neighborhoods; and reflecting on and creating compelling ideas, stories, and images of urban nature, broadly defined. Places we have visited range from Chicago’s lakefront parklands, industrial areas, waterways, and neighborhoods; to the forest preserves and natural areas in and around Schaumburg in the NW suburbs; to the urban parklands of Joliet and the remarkable Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in SW Will County.

The photos below are linked to student essays resulting from our explorations and discussions of urban nature in and around Chicago. Each work of creative non-fiction contains original photographs by the author and, in some cases, other visual sources.

Fecker image 5 aAlicia Fecker — Time Travel with a Red-Winged Blackbird
(May 2018)

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Diana Zak — Big Picture Focus
(August 2017)

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Mucci wun image 1aTiffany Mucci — An Evolving Place of Tallgrass and Open Space
(November 2015)

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Craig WUN cover image 1b.png - CopyKaren Craig — I Know It When I See It
(May 2015)

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Jones WUN cover image 1bKorey Jones — Chicago Wilderness: A Week-Long Excursion
(May 2015)

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Gavrilovic WUN cover image  Ema Gavrilovic — Natural Wonderland of the Suburbs
(May 2015)

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Writing Urban Nature is an ongoing project of the Roosevelt University Sustainability Lab (established Fall 2015) and co-edited by Tiffany Mucci-Heitman, SUST alum (BPS ’16), former assistant editor of the SUST at RU Blog, and contributor to the City Creatures urban nature writing blog; and Mike Bryson, professor and director of the SUST Program at Roosevelt University. 

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