Sustainable Living: Under city lights, urban camping takes root

Posted on August 12, 2013 | green living, New York, San Fran, sustainable living
Summer begins with a lot of good intentions, plans to get back into nature and reconnect with our roots.  But, if your camping ambitions have yet to materialize, don’t despair: a night under the stars might be closer than you think!

City governments and urban entrepreneurs across the world are now paying increased attention to providing camping options within city limits.  Sound like an oxymoron?  Well it is, which is why urban camping is blossoming into an outdoor experience unto itself: not quite rural romping not quite city hustling.

One fascinating example is taking root in Amsterdam where architects Oscar Rommens and Joris Van Reuseldrew drew inspiration from the skyscraper but gave it a campy twist.  Their creation is a small-scale, mobile, urban camping facility.  The unit is a literal and figurative platform for city explorers to  stay overnight (avoid exorbitant hotel prices), connect with other travelers and rediscover urbanity in a totally new way.

While vertical camping catalyzes innovative new designs, it also creates room for the bare-boned traditionalists.  Spearheading this approach are the folks at Bivouac, a summer rooftop art instillation that doubles as 15-person campsite. The project is currently running in New York, Boston and across the pond in London.
The campers here aren’t typically travelers, Bivouac is more an experiment in day-to-day life in the high-tech city jungle. Guests are encouraged to live their normal daily lives, taking the subway and working as usual, before retreating to their low-fi oasis at night (without showers, internet or electricity). Interested in setting up camp? Check it out here.

In the Midwest, urban camping has a unique iteration that’s more nature-focused.  North Face has teamed up with the Chicago parks department to create the Camping 101 Program, giving novice campers and their families the chance to have a slumber-party in select public parks.  The initiative is so well-loved that North Face is teaming up with other state park agencies in California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The consensus when it comes to easily-accessible camping is clearly more, more, more! Have you pitched a tent in an urban jungle? 

We’d love to hear about your adventures.

Sustainable Living: When Nerds Meet Nature

Love has moved online, and not just for personal relationships. The matchmaking potential for business romances (aka partnerships) is a burgeoning area in which savoy innovators, with a social conscience, are building new platforms.
Nerds for Nature are the superhero-cupids of this new frontier, an eclectic mix of techies, hackers, activists and environmentalists in the San Fransisco Bay area. They noticed that, while the non-profit industry stood the most to gain by harnessing the low-cost and high-impact power of new technologies, they were the most reticent and unsure how to do so.
Victoria Bogdan, a NFN member, recently told The Grist, “We thought, if we could bring together the tech-capable with the environmental professionals, and facilitate an exchange of ideas – just begin that dialogue – that would be something new”. So Nerds for Nature got to work, launching officially one short year ago at the Code for Oakland civic hackathon. And the sparks are flying.
So far, Nerds for Nature is facilitating matches through their widely successful Speed dating events.  They also run a BioBlitz meet-up in McLauren Park where nature Nerds, scientists, and amateur naturalists embark on a scavenger hunt of sorts to identify as many species as possible using the iNaturalist app to record their findings.  This is the new equivalent of dinner and a movie for industry dating.
We will be following closely to see what genius brainchildren Nerds for Nature can take responsibility for in the future!