A groundbreaking new book, Still the Same Hawk: Reflections on Nature and New York brings into conversation diverse and intriguing perspectives on the relationship between nature and America’s most prominent city. The volume’s title derives from a telling observation in Robert Sullivan’s contribution that considers how a hawk in the city is perceived so much differently from a hawk in the countryside.
Yet it’s still the same hawk.
How can a hawk nesting above Fifth Avenue become a citywide phenomenon? Or a sudden butterfly migration at Coney Island energize the community? Why does the presence of a community garden or an empty lot ripple so differently through the surrounding neighborhood? Is the city an oasis or a desert for biodiversity? Why does nature even matter to New Yorkers, who choose to live in the concrete jungle?
Still the Same Hawk examines these questions with a rich mix of creative nonfiction that ranges from analytical to anecdotal and humorous. John Waldman’s sharp, well-crafted introduction presenting dualism as the defining quality of urban nature is followed by compelling contributions from Besty McCully, Christopher Meier, Tony Hiss, Kelly McMasters, Dara Ross, William Kornblum, Phillip Lopate, David Rosane, Robert Sullivan, Anne Matthews, Devin Zuber, and Frederick Buell. Together these pieces capture a wide range of viewpoints, including the myriad and shifting ways New Yorkers experience and consider the outdoors, the historical role
of nature in shaping New York’s development, what natural attributes contribute to New York’s regional identity, the many environmental tradeoffs made by urbanization, and even nature’s dark side where “urban legends” flourish.
Still the Same Hawk intermingles elements of natural history, urban ecology, and environmental politics, providing fresh insights into nature and the urban environment on one of the world’s great stages for the clash of these seemingly disparate realms—New York City.
John Waldman is Professor of Biology at Queens College, City University of New York. He is recipient of the New York Society Library Award in Natural History and the Norcross Wildlife Conservation Award and is an occasional contributor to the New York Times and other periodicals.
Devin Zuber is an Assistant Professor for American Studies, Literature and Swedenborgian Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, where he serves as a faculty member for thePh.D. Program in Art and Religion. Dr. Zuber received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York, where in 2009–10 he received thealumni and faculty award for most distinguished dissertation. Before coming to Berkeley, Devin was the in-residence Eccles Fellow for AmericanStudies at the British Library in London and taught for three years as an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Osnabru¨ck in northern Germany. His scholarship has appeared in American Quarterly, Religion and the Arts, and Variations. He is presently completing a book on American environmental aesthetics, as well as a chapbook thatfeatures an interview with the performance artist Marina Abramovic´. He has held fellowships at the Glencairn Museum of World Religions andthe Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and he serves on the board of directors for CARE, the Center forArts, Religion, and Education, at the GTU.
Dara Ross teaches English to recently arrived immigrant students at the Brooklyn International High School. She was the first African-AmericanPeace Corps volunteer to serve in Mongolia, where she worked as an English teacher in a tiny village. Her writing has been published inEssence magazine and on Peacecorps.gov. She loves to teach, write, and make crafts.
Robert Sullivan is the author of The Meadowlands, A Whale Hunt, Rats,and, most recently, The Thoreau You Don’t Know. He has written for magazines, such as The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York magazine, and Vogue. His latest book, My American Revolution, is aconsideration of the Revolutionary War and the landscape of New York City.
Christopher Meier is the co-author (with Tony Hiss) of H2O: Highlands to Ocean, an assessment of fourteen indicators on the environmental health of the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region, the H2Oregion. He has continued the work of this book by participating in discussions and forums in and around the H2O region. While he works inthe software industry, he remains a ‘‘region-builder’’—a champion of natural areas—by avocation.
David Rosane is a freelance naturalist and educator who has worked primarily as a science writer and journalist in France and as a CornellUniversity research associate teaching tropical ornithology and ethnobiology to minority undergraduates in the Venezuelan and Dominican rainforests. He recently lived in New York City as a naturalist-inresidence employed by the late Ted Kheel and his Nurture New York’s Nature Foundation, working together with CUNY faculty to teach urban ecology to continuing education and College Now students. He currently spends time between Paris and his home in Vermont writing educational media about the environment and learning organic farming. He created and ran the HIDI outreach foundation, a small humanitarian program that worked with Ye’kuana natives of southern Venezuela; this career-long project has since been terminated by the Hugo Chavezgovernment.
Kelly McMasters is the author of Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town. The book was listed as one of Oprah Winfrey’s top five summer memoirs and is the basis for the documentary film The Atomic States of America, a 2012 Sundance selection. Her essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine,River Teeth: A Journal of Narrative Nonfiction, Newsday, Time Out New York, and MrBellersNeighborhood.com, among others. She is the recipient of a Pushcart nomination and an Orion Book Award nomination and teaches at mediabistro.com and in the undergraduate writing program and Journalism Graduate School at Columbia University.
Betsy McCully is a writer of nonfiction and fiction. Her book City at the Water’s Edge: A Natural History of New York grew out of twenty yearsof nature exploration in her adopted city. She has given many talks on New York’s natural and environmental history and has created a websitededicated to documenting the nature of the New York region (www.NewYorkNature.net). She is an Associate Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York.
Phillip Lopate, a Brooklyn native, has written three personal essay collections—Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, and Portrait of My Body; two novels, Confessions of Summer and The Rug Merchant; two poetry collections; a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically; andan urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan. Lopate also has edited several anthologies, including The Art of the Personal Essay and Writing New York. His essays, fiction, poetry, film, and architecturalcriticism have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays (1987), several Pushcart Prize annuals, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Vogue, Esquire, Threepenny Review, the New York Times, Preservation, Cite, Metropolis, and many other periodicals and anthologies. Lopate hasalso taught creative writing and literature at Fordham University, Cooper Union, the University of Houston, and New York University. He is a Professor at Columbia University, where he directs the nonfiction concentration in the graduate writing program.
Anne Matthews is the author of a trilogy of place-studies, portraying distinctive American environments dealing with peril and change. Inaddition to Wild Nights: Nature Returns to the City, she wrote Where the Buffalo Roam, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in nonfiction, and Bright College Years, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. She has taught at Princeton, Rutgers, Columbia, and New York universities, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Outside,The American Scholar, Orion, and the ‘‘Best American Science and Nature Writing’’ series. She now writes fiction and film with Will Howarthunder the joint pen name of Dana Hand; their first collaboration, Deep Creek, was a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010.
Frederick Buell is Professor of English at Queens College and the author of five books. A poet and cultural critic, he has written extensively about globalization and culture and about the cultural impacts of deepening environmental crisis. The latter is the subject of his From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century. He is now at work on a book about culture and fossil-fuel energy history, entitled The Cultures of Coal; The Aesthetics of Oil.
Tony Hiss, an author, lecturer, and expert on restoring America’s cities and landscapes, became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1963, and since 1994 he has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University, first at theTaub Urban Research Center and now at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. In 2002 he also became a Fellow of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems (CIUS). He is the author of thirteen books, most recently In Motion: The Experience of Travel, which will be published in paperback in 2012, and H2O: Highlands to Ocean (with Christopher Meier). Among his other books are the award-winning The Experience of Place and A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York–New Jersey–Connecticut Metropolitan Area (with Robert D. Yaro). His work has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, Gourmet,The Atlantic, and Travel & Leisure. He serves on the board of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. The National Recreation and Park Association awarded Hiss its National Literary Award for a lifetime of ‘‘spellbinding and poignant’’ writing about ‘‘how our environments,modes of travel, and other aspects of the American landscape affect our lives.’’ The American Institute of Architects, New York chapter presented him with its George S. Lewis Award for three-and-a-half decades of writing that has made New York a better city in which to live.
William Kornblum conducts research in the areas of community studies, urban ecology, and environmental sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has worked for many years on studies of parks, open spaces, and environmental issues in the New York metropolitan region and other urban regions of the United States and Europe. His research has figured in the restoration of Central Park and Times Square and the development of Gateway, Golden Gate, and other National Recreation areas. His volume At Sea in the City, about thewaterways of New York, draws extensively on this research and environmental activism. He is active in a number of Graduate Centers, chairs the Board of Directors of a Manhattan homeless center, and is a member of the editorial board of Dissent magazine. Kornblum was the recipient of the 2005 Presidential Career Award for the Practice of Sociology from the American Sociological Association.