The Lyceum: Urban Ecological Restoration

by / May. 25, 2018 8am EST

We are all movement. Or rather, all we are is movement.

Or even: In the beginning was the movement. And the movement begat further movement and thus relationship. As each unimaginably tiny particle began to shimmy and gyrate, ripples influenced the experience of other particles: all other particles everywhere. Physics tells us that nothing is ever stagnant, no matter how deeply we would like to believe in confinement and isolation. Change is the natural state and it is forever relational. Standing still is still a dance.

Perhaps there is no greater teacher than observation: no better way to train the innate senses than by observing the surrounding natural world. Surely, you’ve seen the green shoots that demand their way through concrete cracks. People are talking about our world becoming ‘post-wild’ due to the overgrowth of humans and their subsequent environmental manipulation and massive waste production; but is post-wild even possible? Aren’t we a part of nature, too? Wilderness persists and communicates in its own terms. Our definitions (and squabbling thereof) are likely far too puny to fathom the elemental power in nature’s resolve. If the intellect is to expand beyond definitional hang-ups, perhaps it should give way to the sensory input from the natural world. Learning how to interact collaboratively with the environment is essential for survival on this planet. Or rather, it is essential if we care to improve the quality of life while we are here.

A wildly unique training opportunity focused on environmental collaboration and persistence will be offered at Silo City on June 22-24. The Urban Ecological Regeneration course, presented by the Lyceum at Silo City, is an opportunity to learn about ecological science and practical sustainability techniques with fellow experts and explorers. Nature is optimistic, but it requires alliance and support from its human manipulators. (We’re all part of the same movement, after all.) The team of instructors comprises impassioned self-motivators from the Western New York area who have the -ist titles; but more importantly, they have committed their lives to the study and play of ecology.

The post-industrial setting on the privately-owned land that comprises Silo City is more than a backdrop for the training. It is a fellow teacher on the scene. The land, which is located on the Buffalo River, presents its own history, prospects, and challenges in landscape negotiation. The UER training will lay a foundation for understanding city-centric environmental resilience and teach progressive, respectful methods of eco-system interaction.

Participants can expect to learn about:

  • Sustainability mapping: understanding sustainability in urban settings, creating holistic sustainability plans, long-term viability
  • Riparian and wetland ecology: get a primer in healthy ecosystem functioning, flora and fauna communities, biodiversity, and field observation
  • Applied botany: learning about native plant species, restoration strategies, identification and data collection methodology
  • Applied entomology: trying out important insect identification, collection, and preservation techniques, roles of pollinators for native plants
  • Basic soil science: gaining an understanding for what types of substrates naturally occur and why and how to amend soil using best practices
  • Bioremediation: focusing on urban-specific conditions and how to address pollution issues using organic methods
  • Project planning and management: practicing thinking through project logistics, and addressing challenges in the field

Sometime around 360 BC, Aristotle alleged that “nature does nothing in vain.” According to the legends, his process of teaching was observing, talking and walking through the Lyceum in Athens, where a curious public gathered to learn. This became known as the Peripatetic School—peripatetic comes from the Greek word peripatētikos, or “walking up and down.” This movement-based, participatory, collective spirit of learning in ancient Greece helped to inspire the conceptual formation of the Lyceum at Silo City. The 20+ acres site has been alive with exploration and wonderment since its inception as a space for cultural assembly. The educational component of the Silo City campus is flourishing now as the first course in Urban Ecological Regeneration is offered. The deadline for pre-registration is June 8th. Visit for more information.

This is a place of growing ideas; resistance to movement is futile.