Ken Leinbach Talks About How the Pandemic Has Changed Our Relationship with Nature

“Connecting people to nature and each other is really what it’s about.”

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Ken Leinbach, director of the Urban Ecology Center, joined Milwaukee Magazine Publisher and Editor Carole Nicksin for a livestream lunch Wednesday. 

The Urban Ecology Center is an environmental education and stewardship group in Milwaukee. Leinbach talked about the group’s origins, the state of the environment in Milwaukee and ways to celebrate Earth Day this year.

He also discussed how the pandemic is changing people’s interactions with nature.

“Our mission at the Urban Ecology Center is connecting people to nature and each other,” Leinbach said. “It’s an interesting mission to have when you really aren’t supposed to be connecting with each other in a physical way.” 

Leinbach said that in the past few weeks, he’s noticed an increase in the amount of people in Milwaukee’s parks and other natural spaces. 

Urban Ecology Center in My Backyard, located on the Center’s website, offers many ways for people to connect with nature while social distancing. It includes activities from self-guided nature scavenger hunts and park tours to Earth Day crafts. 

To help preserve Milwaukee’s environment, Leinbach said that people should limit plastic use and support the local food economy.

“I could list off a hundred different things you could do, but it’s actually just considering the environment with every choice you make,” Leinbach said.

For today’s Earth Day celebration, Leinbach encouraged people to take a moment to simply appreciate the environment around them and share that appreciation with others.

“Go out, and whatever you see, share it with someone,” Leinbach said. “Connecting people to nature and each other is really what it’s about.”

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Elizabeth Johnson is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine and a journalism major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.