Azlan Nur Saidy, co-founder of the Urban Nestwork, is an aspiring urban planner, student of the natural world, and a recently indoctrinated birder, excited to explore the intersections between human health and the natural environment. The SFU Student Social Innovation Fund, a collaboration between RADIUS and Embark, provides project funding of up to $1000. Below, we get an update from the Urban Nestwork, a project team funded earlier this year.
What if I told you that you are in nature right now? Ridiculous, isn’t it? You can’t really be in nature walking down a concrete street, can you? Listen closely however, and you may be surprised! Our city is full of birds, bees, coyotes, and salmon that are just on the edge of our vision. If you walk too fast, they may just disappear before you can spot them. Slow down, however, and the city suddenly becomes a forest. Eagles soar above Trout Lake, salmon swim upstream in a residential neighborhood, and whales wander into False Creek. Amazing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the way we currently build our cities also destroys habitats for the animals that live in them. Forests and other habitats are often cleared to make way for human homes and businesses, and the animals that live in them are left without a place to go. Urban life makes it hard to think about nature because it is often pushed to the background of human activity. Is there anything we can do? The answer is a resounding YES! We can incorporate nature into our neighborhoods, homes and everyday lives to rewild ourselves and our city.
The Urban Nestwork, a group of SFU students, came together to increase accessibility to nature for our friends, family, neighbors and city. While brainstorming ideas of how to create this connection for people, our team had a close encounter with a northern flicker – a native woodpecker to the west coast – and instantly felt a tangible connection to nature. We wanted to share this connection we felt with our community.
As Urban Nestwork, we provide do-it-yourself bird house kits that community members can adopt. Uproot, a local wood waste diversion organization, has partnered with us to provide upcycled wood materials for our bird houses. We invite community members to not only build a bird house for native birds whose populations are in decline but also build a visceral connection to the home they are offering to the birds. Seeing and hearing birds use something that you created can be a powerful tool in bridging the sense of displacement between people and the natural world.