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Nature & Climate Change

Will leaving oak leaves on the ground improve your garden?

Learn more about how oak leaves create a warm winter blanket for your garden.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Biomaterials (part 1 of 3)

New medical technology from a combination of 3D printing and mineral isolation.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Showcasing nature

How photography shows us nature in new ways.

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Design and Nature Reimagined: Can we create a living battery?

Every leaf that you see on a plant or tree is a tiny, living, solar battery. For years I've wondered why we haven't invested more in figuring out solar storage by mimicking leaves.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Immortal Ginkgo?

How a ginkgo tree may hold a secret to (almost) immortality.

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How bioswales manage stormwater

Bioswales help cities manage stormwater in a way that's more cost-effective and sustainable.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Going Bananas

As weather patterns become more erratic, storms become more intense, and desertification grows, we are seeing increased instability in food production.

And this instability may be coming for bananas.

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Sustainability work at Netlify

How I put together a team to work on sustainability initiatives within Netlify and convinced leadership to provide sustainability funding.

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Design and Nature Reimagined: GMO trees for faster growth?

As trees mature, they tend to take up more CO2. Is there a way to speed up their growth?

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An introduction to the impact of native planting

Native plants in your garden help support wildlife and are easier to maintain than non-natives. Learn what makes a plant native to an area and how you can get started planting native plants in your garden!

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The curious case of the urn-shaped flowers: Naming is hard (part deux)

A deep dive into the beautiful little urn-shaped flowers that are native to my region (and apparently a lot of other ones, too).

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The curious case of the urn-shaped flowers

Going on a tiny research deep-dive to understand why a few seemingly unrelated native plants have such a similar and unique flower shape. Botany done by a non-botanist, this should be fun!

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Photorespiration: the opposite of photosynthesis

Photorespiration is protective process that plants use to slow water loss. What is it and how does it impact plants? Science-y stuff written by a non-scientist. Fun!

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Nature belongs everywhere, Part 2

Previously we talked about what rewilding is and how it looks in different landscapes. This week I want to talk about the benefit and impact of rewilding.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Nature belongs everywhere, Part 1

Rewilding is becoming a growing movement throughout Europe to catalyze conservation efforts. What is rewilding, and how does it change our landscape and promote biodiversity? This is part 1 of a rewilding series I'm writing.

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Conserving old forests should be a first step in climate mitigation

Which is better? Conserving old growth forests or planting new trees?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Growing buildings

Including nature in our built environment creates spaces that are healthier for us and the planet.

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Design and Nature Reimagined: The universe beneath our feet (Part 1)

Fungi are everywhere, and the more I've seen it the more entranced I've become. So let's look at how fungi works, and how we might learn from it. Part 1 will include cool fungus facts (a phrase I never thought I'd say), and Part 2 will reimagine how we might learn from fungus.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Can art give us hope?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how art influences us and the way we influence it. I think that having nature inspired art is a wonderful way to both appreciate nature, and even discover things that you hadn't noticed before.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Can the soil save us? (Part 2)

We're continuing with Part 2 on how the soil can save us, based on the documentary Kiss the Ground. Previously we talked about the importance of soil and the scary realization that desertification was expanding on a global level. The open question for all of us is; what can we do about it?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Can soil save us? (Part 1)

The other day I was watching the Netflix show Kiss the Ground, which is all about soil. I enjoy documentaries, and although climate documentaries can be overwhelming, I don't know all that much about soil and thought the movie might be informative. But I watched it two weeks ago and am still thinking about it! Here's a little bit of what I learned. Buckle in, cuz this is only Part 1 of 2...

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Robots in the water

Conservation is a huge part of combatting climate change, because once something is damaged or lost it takes many, many decades or generations to build itself back up again. And refusing to clean up our plastic mess, in addition to refusing to stop using plastic, leads to especially harmful pollution in our water.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: How grief can be our gateway to hope

I thought this week I would talk about mental health, climate change, and hope. How do we deal with feelings of grief and loss of what we know?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Understanding the un-understandable

One of the (many) things that makes climate change so hard is the inability to truly understand it. If we don't understand it, it makes it hard to push for change. So, today I want to talk about climate modeling and visualization. How might we use these tools to better understand the challenge that we all face?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: The dirty business of healthcare

Healthcare is a unique place for design, innovation, and nature to come in, because healthcare really isn't something that's really in the front of our minds when we talk about waste.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: A new way to fly

Today I want to look at the possible future of planes. What might we do differently to reduce emissions when using air travel?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Mass reforestation around the world

I want to talk about trees again, mainly because I love them so much and because I think planting trees is one of the most hopeful acts you can do. A tree is a bet on the future, something that will be most appreciated after you've lived and died, and therefore something that you do for others.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Natural light through the night

As spring comes and brings more light later into the day, I've been thinking a lot about how light plays in our life. It's easy for us to flip a switch as night comes, without even thinking about it. However, a lot of material goes into our lighting and the impact of our lights creates light pollution that confuses migrating birds and nocturnal animals and insects.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Water bears in space!

Hi there! Today we're gonna talk about tardigrades, also known as water bears. Water bears are some of the strongest little creatures out there.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Do flowers party at night? No they go to bed early.

If you know anything about me by now, you may have noticed I love (love) plants. I love growing my garden, and spend a lot of time watching the flowers. If you've ever done this, you may have noticed that some of your flowers close at night. Purple shamrocks, tulips, lotus, morning glory, and california poppies are just a few of the many flowers that exhibit this behavior.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Look to the birds

I often talk about the future and climate change mitigation. How might we change something going forward to reduce or reverse climate change? But an important part of climate justice requires a realistic view. And that view must include adaptation. How might we reimagine our relationship with nature in order to adapt to a changing climate?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Using mushrooms to fight climate change

Sitting with untapped potential, how could mushrooms help us create a better future and mitigate climate change?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Mimicking nature to help us store and use energy

Although we all likely know about renewable energy by now: wind, hydro, solar, and even nuclear energy, one of the ongoing problems we've had for moving toward new energy is being able to store that energy in a battery. Today I wanted to look at opportunities for understanding how nature stores energy and how we might mimic that with our own technologies.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Using mapping to save our coral reefs

This week we'll be talking about a sad subject, but one filled with a lot of hope.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: The beauty of bogs

Today I'm going to talk with you about something you probably never thought you'd read about.... peat bogs! Why peat bogs, Marisa, I hear you ask me through the screen.

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Is Betterment's Socially Responsible Investing actually socially responsible?

Today we take a quick look at Betterment's Socially Responsible Investment portfolio. What's that all about and is it any good?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Solving the plastic pollution problem

This week we're going to talk about plastic. Something that we use every day, and is one of the easiest ways to perpetuate our fossil fuel usage.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: An ocean of innovation

I've talked a lot so far about trees and plants, but there's so much more beyond what's beneath our feet. So today I wanted to talk about the ocean. Think of this as an introduction into how the ocean and climate are related.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Connecting with nature through sound

Hope your day is going well. Today we're going to talk about some ways people are using sound to connect with nature.

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Design & Nature Reimagined: The Future of Growing Food

I love food and love gardening so I figured this week we'd look take a look at some possible futures for growing food. How can tech, nature, and innovative thinking reimagine how we plant and what types of food we grow?

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Design & Nature Reimagined: Reforesting cities and towns

This week we're looking at some examples of cities and towns that are putting in the effort to reforest their communities in an attempt to make their areas better for themselves and the planet. We see how we're reforesting both outside and inside our lived spaces.

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Getting Involved in Climate Work

I spend a lot of my time thinking about climate change. Over the years, I've struggled over how to have an impact, especially when I'm not specifically working in the climate space. This post is about how my thoughts have evolved on this over the course of my career.

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Collaborating with nature: Reimagining our cities with vertical forests

We need bolder visions to help us imagine what our cities and towns could be. This post starts to explore what that could look like, starting with a few examples that already exist or are in design.

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Taking back the streets

Streets were originally meant for all people to use. With the rise of the car, people got pushed further to the edges, and an entire legal system was set up to defend drivers of cars rather than those impacted by them. How can we change that narrative now?

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We all belong in the climate conversation

Joining the conversation on climate is for everyone, because it will impact all of us.

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Designing a better built environment

We can design a better world if we're willing to ask better questions and make real change.

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Designing for people: How research and design can help us create smarter cities

I had the opportunity to give a talk at the Portland Junior Developers meetup. This post is a link to that presentation, where I shared some ideas on how can we use research, design, and tech to create better cities.

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Finding hope as our world changes

A few months ago I was lucky enough to go to the Cooper Hewitt Design museum in New York. The exhibit I saw was what I've been waiting for. It made me sad, excited, angry, and most of all—hopeful. It changed me in such a way that I still think about it almost every day. I want to share some of what I learned with you.

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Dealing with climate anxiety in a dying world

How anxiety can give way to productive anger.

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Gardening for the non-gardener

Sometimes house plants can be really difficult to maintain. They usually die from being loved to death... overwatered. So, I wanted to share tips on how to get started with gardening even if you don't have a lot of space. If you have a window that opens or a little balcony then you've got yourself a little outdoor garden!

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