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Finding Wild Spaces in Urban Places

July 21, 2022

Wild Lands Advocate article by: Norine Ambrose, Executive Director, Cows and Fish

Click here for a pdf version of the article.

Do you ever wake up with this sense of some dream you had, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t remember what it was about? You have a sense or feeling, but no concrete understanding. I think that same hard-to-catch feeling is true when we try and pin down the feeling many of us get when we go into wild spaces – a deep sense of joy, or reinvigorating energy, or wonder. But it is hard to pin down why.

When I go to an urban park, I have different expectations from when I go to a national park or public land in the western part of Alberta; but I still hope to gain some of that energy, joy of the outdoors, a sense of being in the right place. Likewise, when I am in rural, settled landscapes, whether farms or acreages, I still want that feeling. And I expect that those using land across Alberta – from urban green spaces around built stormwater ponds to mountain parks – want it too. They are enjoying, while also stewarding, these places to be healthy.

If I were asked to illustrate a scene of utter serenity and peace, I would choose a picture of a mother grizzly wandering across flower-covered slopes with two small cubs gamboling at her heels. This is truly a part of the deep tranquility that is the wilderness hallmark.
- Andy Russell, 1975
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