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Philosophy

We humans are part of the natural world, our bodies, minds, and habitats shaped by the physical, chemical, and biological processes that sustain the Earth. All my work follows from that core belief.

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I never learned to doubt that the city was part of the natural world. For years, a tiny grove of trees in a nearby vacant lot was a wilderness that provided ample space for childhood fantasies. Several blocks away, a creek disappeared into an underground culvert large enough to accommodate two small adventurers armed with candles and matches, seeking the stream’s mouth. Later, in downtown Cincinnati, a fifteen-minute bus ride away, afforded nature of a different sort: flocks of pigeons in Fountain Square; the wide, brown waters of the Ohio River; hilltops overlooking the river and city; and parks whose creekbeds were littered with stone twigs and shells – the fossil remains of ancient plants and animals.

For me, nature consists of the creative and life-sustaining processes that connect everything in the biological world and the physical universe, including humans. It always takes me aback when someone says that they are going to “go out into nature” (presumably somewhere in the countryside or where there are few humans) or when someone speaks of “bringing nature into the city” (as if natural processes ever went away). This reaction makes me a bit odd, in my culture, but such ways of thinking are not as innocent as they may seem. They can have terrible consequences.

We humans are the architects of our environment. That is our great strength, but one that threatens our existence. My work aims not only to expose the dangers of disregarding natural forces in the design of human settlements, but also to demonstrate how to work with natural processes to create places that are functional, sustainable, memorable, and just.

My goal is to change the way human settlements are designed and built. That is why I write. I want to tell an engaging story, to inspire readers to share my fears and hopes, to instill confidence that they have the knowledge and power to shape their world into a humane habitat.