Synopses & Reviews
We usually think of cities as the domain of humansandmdash;but we are just one of thousands of species that call the urban landscape home. Chicago residents knowingly move among familiar creatures like squirrels, pigeons, and dogs, but might be surprised to learn about all the leafhoppers and water bears, black-crowned night herons and bison, beavers and massasauga rattlesnakes that are living alongside them. City Creatures
introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.
The contributors bring a story-based approach to this urban safari, taking readers on birding expeditions to the Magic Hedge at Montrose Harbor on the North Side, canoe trips down the South Fork of the Chicago River (better known as Bubbly Creek), and insect-collecting forays or restoration work days in the suburban forest preserves.
The book is organized into six sections, each highlighting one type of place in which people might encounter animals in the city and suburbs. For example, schoolyard chickens and warrior wasps populate andldquo;Backyard Diversity,andrdquo; live giraffes loom at the zoo and taxidermy-in-progress pheasants fascinate museum-goers in andldquo;Animals on Display,andrdquo; and a chorus of deep-freeze frogs awaits in andldquo;Water Worlds.andrdquo; Although the book is rooted in Chicagoandrsquo;s landscape, nature lovers from cities around the globe will find a wealth of urban animal encounters that will open their senses to a new world that has been there all along. Its powerful combination of insightful narratives, numinous poetry, and full-color art throughout will help readers see the cityandmdash;and the creatures who share it with usandmdash;in an entirely new light.
andldquo;The essays, stories, art, poetry, and photography in City Creatures convey one insight after another about modern life, and in particular offer ideas about ethics, the importance of place, displaced species, the diversity of life, religious practice and thinking, and the role of literature and other arts in helping us see our daily lives. Human city dwellers will see their world far better and recognize how to stop harming their local habitat and their fellow urban and#39;citizens,and#39; building toward coexistence with their nonhuman neighbors.andrdquo;
andquot;A fascinating collection of thoughtful insights in the richly diverse and surprisingly pulsing urban nature of one of the worldandrsquo;s most busy cities. This vivid and passionate book opens our eyes to the wealth of animal life that regularly goes unnoticed in the hustling and bustling of the everyday. The animals we share our city with occupy different urban spaces, geographical areas, and institutional domains as their fleeting presences are captured in this book by essayists, poets, and artists. With its emphasis on local realities and histories, City Creatures sets the model for the eco-urban engagement this decade so urgently needs.andquot;
is a collection of essays, artwork, and poetry from over 50 contributors. It exuberantly spans subjects from the spiritual benefits and moral issues around keeping chickens in the backyard to the unsung contributions of soil mites. We learn about orchid sex and the resurrection of frozen frogs. A scientist gives us a glimpse into the secret lives of urban coyotes. Thereandrsquo;s a step-by-step description of taxidermy. We are treated to charming accounts of meetings with owls, parrots, skunks, snakes and other animal neighbors, and a haunting glimpse of herons on the concrete-lined banks of a polluted stream. The authors take us bird-watching, snake-hunting, dog-walking, and into Chicagoandrsquo;s museums and zoos. The book is about the wildlife of Chicago, but the subjects extend well beyond.
After reading City Creatures I was left feeling the strong collective impact of all of those voices. The stories were informative or intimate or funny or sad or all of these things. What I found most unique and unexpected was the bookandrsquo;s emotional content. I was touched. I literally laughed and cried, diving forward into each new story, genuinely interested to hear about the next personandrsquo;s wildlife experiences.andquot;
andquot;Chicago wilderness? Who knew what fabulous creatures you may encounter there! There has never been another book that celebrates so beautifully the ways wild creatures can be encountered in the midst of the asphalt grids and windy shores of this most American of cities.andquot;
andquot;A fascinating and beautiful book linking ecology, anthropology, spirituality, prose, art and poetry that urges us to rediscover our relationship with urban animals. Chicago provides an ideal background for this elegant and engaging examination of how animals and nature can reconnect us back to our own humanity; addressing essential and universal questions for all city-dwellers in this modern age.andquot;
andquot;Nature in Chicago is everywhere and for everyone. Read this book for its symphony of voices.andquot;
In any given year, in the spring and fall, some 7 million birds representing 300 different species migrate through the city of Chicago.and#160; They come for great architecture, cuisine, song, views, and flywaysandmdash;creating their own urban nature.and#160; They alight our forest preserves, our lakefront paths, and the minds and hearts of citizens and students through the urban region. Chicago has gone to extensive lengths as a city to aid its finned, feathered, scaled, and furry animals enjoy the city as much as its bipedal inhabitants. Chicago is andldquo;Natureandrsquo;s Metropolis. Nature lovers, amateur naturalists, community organizers, urban agriculturalists, social workers, and concerned citizens have always been part of the fabric of the city.
Chicago Creatures aims to animate this natural world of the Chicago region, using stories, poems, and art to show how the vibrancy of nature in Chicago runs like a rhizome throughout our collective experience as urban naturalists.and#160; Recognizing the stories have often the best means of reaching readers, the essays in this volume tell stories about urban nature, and so too do the poems, and paintings, and photos.and#160; We see in these various creative forms how nature inspires, and holds meaning, even in an urban wilderness, and perhaps because of the urbanity of it all in some cases.and#160; The pieces are organized thematically, around the types of places and encounters readers would have with urban nature.and#160; The ultimate hope is that in learning about the animals of the city readers will think more about their conservation and longevity.and#160; And while the experiences might be local, the messages in this book are born to fly.
About the Author
Gavin Van Horn is the director of Cultures of Conservation for the Center for Humans and Nature, a nonprofit organization that focuses on and promotes conservation ethics. He writes for, edits, and curates the City Creatures blog. Dave Aftandilian is associate professor of anthropology at Texas Christian University. He is the editor of What Are the Animals to Us? Approaches from Science, Religion, Folklore, Literature, and Art.