Ep6: Conservation & Identity with LaJuan Tucker
On this episode, we'll examine the relationship between natural history and social history. Join Leah as she sits down with park ranger LaJuan Tucker to talk about the conservation of urban wildlife, and how changing societal attitudes determine how we relate to our landscapes. LaJuan will explain how, in recent years, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department has implemented a new mandate to protect pollinator habitats, even when that means sacrificing the "manicured" look of the park in high-traffic areas.
We'll also zoom out and talk more broadly about the philosophy of conservation today. How should our parklands be used, and who gets to decide? Should we strive to preserve "native" landscapes, or build more community gardens? And how do we reconcile the romance of the Texas landscape with the racist realities of our past? We'll talk about the lingering effects of Jim Crow in Austin, from actual monuments to the Confederacy, to present-day structural inequality. And we'll hear about LaJuan's personal mission to encourage young Austinites of color to seek careers in environmental conservation and city planning. Here, and in upcoming episodes as well, we'll begin to engage with the paradox of Austin as an environmentally progressive, yet very socioeconomically segregated, city.
Below are links to topics discussed:
Trust for Public Land document containing stats about city parks in the US
Apps and other wildlife-watching resources:
Local initiatives mentioned:
Article from KUT.org about the renaming of Robert E Lee Road
National Wildlife Federation blog post about the Mayor's Monarch Pledge in Austin
Below is a map of the many park locations discussed in this episode: