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EWN - Engineering With Nature

  • Seeing the Forest for the Trees—The Value and Complexity of Forest Ecosystems

    14 MAY 2024 · How do we think about forests and their value? We know that forests store carbon, and with the climate changing, many might think the answer is to just plant more trees. Our guests challenge that conventional wisdom and, as the saying goes, help us see the forest for the trees. In Season 7, Episode 8, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), are joined by Laurie Wayburn, Cofounder and President of Pacific Forest Trust (PFT), and Nathan Beane, Research Forester in the Environmental Laboratory of the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). They’re talking about how to sustainably manage forests to make them more resilient.  Laurie has dedicated her career to forest conservation and sustainability. She is an innovator, a pioneer, and an authoritative voice on forest practices and policy. Much of Laurie’s work at Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) is working with private landowners on conserving forests. “We wanted to work with what I would call the enlightened self-interest of private landowners and make it financially competitive, or even more desirable, to keep their forests as forests, not just as plantations, but to manage them as forests with the full suite of functions.” Nathan is the leading research forester within the US Department of Defense (DoD). As lead of the Forest Ecosystem Dynamics Team at ERDC, his research primarily focuses on forest communities, their function, health, management, and sustainment, and ultimately the creation of “resilient forests.” Nathan’s work addresses problems in forested lands on USACE and DoD installations. His on-the-ground research helps to inform a more comprehensive understanding of healthy forest ecosystems and how to improve their management. In their respective roles, both Laurie and Nathan speak for the forests. As Laurie describes it, “When people use the term forestry, what they’re typically thinking about is the production of timber or fiber commodities. That phrase, ‘seeing the forest for the trees,’ is all too apt because so many people think of forests just as a collection of trees.” She describes forest systems as beginning well below the ground and ending above the canopy with trees being the most visible piece of a storehouse of biodiversity that comprises the forest overall. Nathan agrees, noting, “While forests provide key habitats for a range of wildlife, including threatened endangered species, they also generate oxygen, filter water, provide soil stabilization, carbon sequestration, ecosystem biodiversity, natural disaster mitigation, and flood control.” Laurie has a strong call to action for listeners: “One of the most critical things I hope we can help people think about is forests are essential infrastructure, just as we think about roads or the internet as essential infrastructure. As you go about your daily life, be aware of, and grateful for, the grace and blessing of forests and return the favor. They don’t exist without people caring and being involved.” Nathan agrees: “I’m a big advocate for that. I think it’s important to highlight that it’s critical that we understand the complexity of forests. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, and I think it’s really important that we continue to conduct research in this space. I’m really glad to be a part of the EWN Program that supports this.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at   • • • • 
    56m 42s
  • Using State-of-the-Art Tools to Cocreate a Future for the LA River

    30 APR 2024 · Imagine restoring a 51-mile-long concrete river—running through the heart of the Los Angeles Basin in California—into a vibrant corridor reconnecting fractured communities and ecosystems. In Season 7, Episode 7, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Amanda Tritinger from the US Army Corps of Engineers talk with landscape architects Alex Robinson from University of Southern California (USC) and Leslie Dinkin from the Kounkuey Design Initiative in Los Angeles. They discuss the use of storytelling, augmented reality, and physical modeling tools to engage people along the river in cocreating a new future for themselves and for the river. Leslie recently graduated with dual master’s degrees in landscape architecture and heritage conservation from USC, studying under Alex and working with him at the Los Angeles River Integrated Design Lab (LA-RIDL). Alex’s work is rooted in his personal experiences with the City of Los Angeles (LA) and its infrastructure, including the LA River, and finding out how people spend their days interacting with these interesting landscapes. Fresh out of graduate school in 2005, Alex worked on the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, one of the first of many plans for the river that tried to bring different values into the thinking about how to transform the river into something more than just an instrument of flood control. He has continued this focus with the realization that, “We were constrained by so many voices and different constituents, all speaking different languages. I thought, what if we could create a platform where we had a more collective understanding, where people could begin to speak the same language and were able to cocreate something.” This led Alex to reach out to the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), which has hydrology modeling in its toolset. As Amanda notes, “You can see how this just clearly aligns with Engineering with Nature. At ERDC, we have numerical and physical models, but how do we get our models to talk to people? I think Leslie and Alex have done a really great job in not only creating that connection but making it meaningful.” The product of this collaboration with Duncan Bryant, Research Hydraulic Engineer, and his colleagues at ERDC’s Coastal Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL), was the development of a physical model of a section of the LA River with adjacent land owned by the city where there is an opportunity for big changes. As Alex explains, “This is the crown-jewel opportunity for changing the LA River.” To take the engagement with the model to the next level and produce something that invites people to participate in the process, Alex and his colleagues developed an augmented reality component to visually overlay information on top of the physical model. “It lets people interact—a community member can come in and make a comment, draw something, and that becomes input an engineer and a landscape architect can consider in their design process.” Thinking about how advanced visualization tools support community engagement, Alex says, “I think the model and all the different tools we’ve developed have created this incredible common ground for people to have a conversation and have their ideas and values represented in the system.” Amanda truly appreciates the work that Alex and Leslie are doing: “If I could just represent all of engineers for a minute, I’d like to say, thank you. Thank you for helping us communicate.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at   • • • 
    44m 29s
  • 3D Printing Nature-Inspired Infrastructure (NII) – The Future is Upon Us!

    16 APR 2024 · Imagine the possibilities if brilliant scientists and engineers could figure out how to use natural materials like silt and clay, dredged from waterways, to make nature-inspired, 3D printed structures like reefs and roots to restore habitat and protect coastal shorelines. In Season 7, Episode 6, host Sarah Thorne is joined by Al Kennedy, Burton Suedel, and Andrew McQueen from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). All three are Research Biologists in the Environmental Laboratory at ERDC. They’re discussing the 3D printing workshop they hosted in February 2024 to explore the potential of nature-inspired 3D printing. As a special feature of this episode, several of the workshop participants share highlights from the workshop discussions and the inspiration for their future work.  The Corps dredges more than 200 million cubic yards of sediment from navigable waterways every year. In Season 5, Episode 6, Lieutenant General Spellman, USACE Commander and Chief of Engineers, spoke about his 70/30 goal–achieving 70% beneficial use of dredged material by 2030. 3D printing can enable new and novel ways to use sediment as a resource and improve the Civil Works’ mission delivery, unlocking some of the constraints on traditional infrastructure engineering by using simple bioinspired design, leveraging natural geometries to produce more pleasing recreational uses, improved ecological functionality, plus economic and social benefits. The workshop was a key step in advancing the potential of 3D printing by bringing together a diverse group of experts from government, academia, and the private sector to explore the potential of 3D printing using natural materials. Workshop breakout groups focused on four major research areas: - Ecosystem restoration and bioinspired design - Coastal resilience and sustainability - Sediment properties - Scaling up   Key discussions and takeaways from the workshop, include:  - The importance of being more intentional with infrastructure design, incorporating nature-inspired features to leverage optimizations from nature, and delivering multi-functional materials that offer co-benefits like habitat enhancement alongside primary infrastructure objectives. - Discussions on the properties of natural materials and their performance in 3D printers, including stability of end products, and the potential need for pre- and post-processing to meet requirements. - Exploring and innovating the best applications for 3D printed materials, such as using dredged material from confined disposal facilities (CDFs) for ports and coastal areas, enhancing community resilience with new or rehabilitated infrastructure like berms. - The necessity for maturation and scaling up of 3D printing applications, transitioning from lab-scale to larger format printers suitable for field use, encompassing nozzle design and managing available dredge material for use. - The potential safety benefits of using 3D printing to automate infrastructure production in hazardous work environments.  Synergy, engagement, and collaboration was evident throughout the workshop, and participants expressed a strong interest in continuing the dialogue. A report on the workshop results will be available on the EWN website. For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at   - - -
    52m 21s
  • EWN Atlas 3 Launch Coming Soon – 58 Inspiring NBS Projects

    2 APR 2024 · Innovation and collaboration are cornerstones of Engineering With Nature (EWN). Sharing projects, demonstrating outcomes, and inspiring practitioners around the world is an important part of advancing EWN. The EWN Atlas series, initiated in 2018, has been key to showcasing the incredible work happening around the world. Season 7, Episode 5, kicks off the launch of EWN Atlas, Volume 3. Host Sarah Thorne is joined by cohost Burton Suedel, Research Biologist at the Engineer Research and Development Center, USACE, and Zelini Hubbard, Senior Project Manager at Anchor QEA and Project Manager for Atlas 3. The EWN Atlas series demonstrates the power of EWN in action, highlighting projects that exemplify EWN concepts, principles, and practices. Each Atlas is organized in chapters, presenting projects in various environmental contexts—beaches and dunes, wetlands, islands, reefs, riverine systems, and floodplains—as well as chapters on specific project types, such as the use of vegetation and natural materials, and environmental enhancements of existing infrastructure. Sarah spoke with five contributors to Atlas 3 whose projects exemplify the quality of EWN projects being implemented around the world:   Cathy Lear is a Senior Habitat Biologist at Clallam County. The Lower Dungeness River Project she led is in Clallam County, WA. This project incorporated nature-based solutions (NBS) to restore a floodplain.  Mary Kate Brown is Assistant Coastal Programs Director for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. She talks about how the Lightning Point Restoration Project in Bayou La Batre, AL, used green and gray infrastructure to revitalize a culturally important shoreline.   Samantha Belcik is a Biologist and Planner with the Chicago District, USACE. She describes the Fort Sheridan Project in Lake County, IL, which used historical native plant ecotypes and natural processes to restore a coastal ecosystem.   Zoe Elliott Perkins is a Senior Coastal Engineer on the Beaches Team for the City of Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. She was part of the team on the Palm Beach Artificial Reef Project in Palm Beach, Queensland, Australia, which constructed an artificial reef to provide coastal protection and recreational resources.   David Johnston is a Project Engineer and Acting Team Lead in the Waterways Section of the USACE Huntington District. He led the Ohio River Bonanza Bar Project in Portsmouth, OH, which used dredged material beneficially to create ecological habitats and restore the historical footprint.   Burton and Zelini hope Atlas 3 gets wide use. As Zelini notes, “All 58 projects really do provide interesting examples of how NBS are being applied to a broad range of challenges. I think it’s a real feat that the work of so many has been distilled down into a digestible and readable document.” Burton agrees, adding, “What we’re striving to do is to share best practices worldwide, inspire actions in others, foster the confidence in our collective vision and encourage others to incorporate NBS into their infrastructure projects.”  Jeff King, Lead of the EWN Program, notes that: “Atlas 3 really reflects the best of the best work being done by colleagues across USACE and around the world.” Jeff thanks the entire team that worked on Atlas 3, and all the contributors and adds, “I’d like to personally invite all our listeners to check out Atlas 3, and all of the wonderful work being done—it will be available in May 2024. I hope all our listeners and readers will be inspired by the projects we’re featuring.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at   • • •
    41m 8s
  • Catching Up with Todd Bridges – Failing at Retirement but Advancing NBS

    12 MAR 2024 · It’s old home week and time to get the original EWN Podcast gang back together. In Season 7, Episode 4, host Sarah Thorne is joined by cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature Program (EWN), and our friend, colleague, and inspiration behind the Engineering With Nature Program, Todd Bridges. Todd is now Professor of Practice in Resilient and Sustainable Systems in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA). A lot has happened since February of 2023 when we celebrated Todd’s 30-year career with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), where in addition to being Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science, he founded and was the first National Lead of the EWN Program.  Having taken only a month off after leaving USACE, Todd says that he “failed at retirement. I’m as busy now, if not more so, than I was before. But I think a ‘busy life’ is a ‘happy life.’” For Todd, change is inevitable and keeps one energized: “I wouldn't trade the 30 years that I was blessed to have with the Corps of Engineers for anything. It was vastly fulfilling in so many ways, on so many levels. But change is necessary, and I’ve been enjoying embracing the change and continuing to do whatever I can to make a difference.” We discussed some of the highlights of Todd’s busy first 11 months at UGA where he is teaching and advising engineering students about natural infrastructure, and has his first graduate student, Scott Blackstock, a Captain in the US Army who will focus his research on nature-based solutions. Todd is also podcasting at UGA, cohosting the Resilient Futures Podcast with Dr. Alicia Helmrich, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering. The Resilient Futures Podcast focuses on what it takes to create resilience in a variety of different contexts. In addition to his teaching and advising, Todd has continued to spread the word on EWN and nature-based solutions (NBS) in many forums, including: participating in two summits hosted by the White House—the Invest in Nature Summit and the Climate Resilience Summit as well as being selected as one of 11 lead authors on the United States’ first National Nature Assessment to lead development of the chapter on “Nature and the Safety and Security of the United States.” Todd continues to be active in the Network for Engineering With Nature (N-EWN), which he cofounded with Brian Bledsoe in 2018. As Todd explains, “Progress runs on the rails of relationships. I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing in the growth. Today we have more than 25 partners that are committing their own sweat equity to a wide range of N-EWN initiatives.” In February 2024, Todd and Jeff participated in the Policy Forum for Nature-Based Solutions in Washington DC, sponsored by N-EWN and the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program. The Policy Forum brought together a diverse array of stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators, practitioners, academics, and others. It provided a platform for rich discussions on the transformative potential of nature-based solutions across various sectors. Jeff and Todd are both energized by the growing acceptance of nature-based solutions. As Jeff notes, “Five years ago, nature-based solutions were not ubiquitous. Today we’re constantly talking about NBS, and more and more NBS projects are coming online.” Todd agrees: “There’s been a convergence of thinking—an alignment of need and opportunity that we need to capitalize on now if we want to really make a difference for the country and for communities.”  He adds, “The future is very bright for Engineering With Nature.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at   • •
    46m 43s
  • A Personal Journey to Make NBS “Just Part of the Fabric” in the San Francisco District

    20 FEB 2024 · Our guest is a scientist and innovator who brings new thinking and new applications of nature-based solutions (NBS) into her work every day. In Season 7, Episode 3, host Sarah Thorne is joined by cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature Program (EWN), and Julie Beagle, Environmental Planning Section Chief for the USACE San Francisco District. Julie joined USACE three years ago desiring to make the biggest impact possible. Jeff notes that, since then, Julie’s leadership on EWN has been absolutely outstanding and her passion for NBS to address a whole range of projects in the San Francisco Bay and throughout the district is inspiring. She’s moving the needle when it comes to advancing the practice of integrating NBS into project decision-making. Julie began her career as a field scientist working in rivers all day, on a job that let her be outside doing science. As a geomorphologist, she studied how sediment and water shape the surface of the earth. In her early career, she focused on protecting salmonid species in northern California and assisted communities in restoring rivers and explored landscape management strategies to better protect and integrate habitats. Then she worked her way downstream into more engineered flood-control channels working on issues related to water quality and the interaction of land use and development. She notes that, “over the last 15 years, climate change became the driver. I became focused on how landscapes, people, species, and ecosystems are going to adapt to this changed reality.” As Julie describes it, the whole watershed connects. What happens in the upper watershed influences what happens down in the floodplains, tidal marshes, down to the bay and the outer ocean. “It really helped me understand this entire landscape that we have modified and are now having to adapt for all the benefits that we need from our ecosystems and lands. We have to take a landscape approach, and that’s why Engineering With Nature really resonates for me.” One of the projects that Julie worked on right before coming to USACE was the This publication helps communities identify different adaptation strategies that take advantage of natural processes. Julie has translated her experience to what she is doing for USACE today with the opportunity to work in different areas and across jurisdictions. “I’ve been focused on San Francisco Bay for a long time, but I’m really excited about all these other estuaries starting to think about this Adaptation Atlas–type approach. We can help them develop these same types of toolkits and then make that connection to the dredge material that the Army Corps produces across the entire West Coast.” Jeff notes the importance of taking what is being demonstrated in the San Francisco District and replicating it across the country. “What Julie is doing in the San Francisco District has a lot of value. We want to capture that and share the learnings and experiences you’re having as an EWN Proving Ground with the rest of the Corps enterprise.” Leveraging her role as the EWN Lead in San Francisco District, Julie’s goal is “to make NBS just part of the fabric of the way we do business.” Jeff agrees, “I want this to be something that we use time and time again. NBS should become integrated into all our project decision-making. That is real culture change, and Julie’s leadership is a great example.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at • •
    38m 9s
  • Advancing NBS through Building Relationships in the Pacific Region

    6 FEB 2024 · Nature-based solutions (NBS) are of growing interest in many parts of the world as scientists, engineers, policymakers, and others look for new ways to address climate change challenges. In S7, E2, host Sarah Thorne is joined by EWN cohosts Burton Suedel, and Amanda Tritinger. Their guest is Paul Cruz, Sr. Program Manager in International and Interagency Services in the USACE’s Pacific Ocean Division. They’re talking about advancing NBS by building relationships with colleagues in the Pacific region. With a military background and experience in planning and security cooperation, Paul describes his work as: “I tell people I went from the 8-crayon box set to the 200-crayon box set with a pencil sharpener on the back, working with all these scientists, engineers, and research personnel on new and exciting topics and capabilities that we bring to the table as we engage our allies and partners all around Asia. And certainly EWN was one of those capabilities.” While assisting the Philippine Navy with dredging efforts for their Navy Bases, Paul met with the Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). “We took advantage of the opportunity to support their dredging challenges because it was helping facilitate the military side, and we started to see a real growing relationship between the USACE and the DPWH—two agencies that have a lot of the same mission sets.” This led to additional engagements on typhoon recovery and flood control, and reclamation projects with the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In March 2023, Amanda participated in a technical exchange hosted by the Taiwan Water Resources Agency (TWRA). Over 100 participants from academia, local and federal agencies, and NGOs took part and expressed a great deal of interest in the knowledge that the USACE and TWRA had to share. As Amanda notes, “We enjoyed participating in the panel. I believe to this day we're applying what we learned and brought home to our respective countries.” Burton followed this up in October 2023, attending the Taiwan International Water Week hosted by TWRA. “It was a great opportunity to share some of our best practices and try to relate them in ways that the next generation of professionals—scientists, biologists, engineers, and other disciplines—can pick up on.” In the Portland District in 2022 and in the Seattle District in 2023, USACE hosted technical exchanges with delegations from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT). Both countries face similar issues in their coastal environments. As Amanda describes it, “I saw a lot was multi-issue problems in Japan with compounding effects—flooding, plus wave action on storm events, and the most subsidence I'd ever seen, plus the risk of volcanic activity. While multibenefit may be seen as nicety for us, for Japan, it’s a necessity.” These examples underscore the value of relationships in the Pacific Region. As Paul notes, “From a military perspective, we don’t do anything anymore alone. It’s always together.” For Burton, “To me, it’s mutual learning. I’m always pleasantly surprised how engaged and engaging the participants are and how much progress they have made to incorporate innovative EWN principles and practices into their projects.” Amanda adds: “Building deep relationships that are sustainable is so important. I think to progress the practice and support a sustainable future, we need to engineer with nature, but we need to engineer with humanity too.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at • • •
    46m 2s
  • Regenerative Land Management—Nature Already Has It Dialed In

    23 JAN 2024 · Welcome to a new season of the EWN Podcast! Our guest has a bold vision for natural, holistic land management. He's not just thinking about how water harvesting and land management can complement or even replace traditional water resources engineering, he's putting it into practice. In Season 7, Episode 1, host Sarah Thorne is joined by cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature Program, and Ricardo Aguirre, Director of Land Management and Water Security for WEST Consultants (WEST) in Arizona and Executive Director of the Drylands Alliance for Addressing Water Needs (DAAWN). Ricardo is an engineer, rancher, consultant, and an accredited holistic management professional and educator. He has 25 years of experience working on hydrology, stormwater management, flood control, and groundwater recharge. Ricardo grew up on a cattle ranch and cotton farm in southern Arizona. The farm failed, and his family urged him to get away from agriculture, but his mother sensed that water was going to be the future in the Southwest and recommended he become a water attorney. Instead, he chose civil engineering with a focus on water resources. Following graduation from the University of Arizona, he worked at the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) while completing a master’s degree at the University of Illinois. After working in land development, Ricardo’s career brought him back to his family’s lands but with new perspectives on land management and water use. He started his own firm, Holistic Engineering and Land Management, then joined WEST to pursue his vision for regenerative land management. Regenerative land management, Ricardo explains, “is understanding nature’s patterns and working with nature to maintain landforms, specifically in this case, grasslands that do the yeoman’s work in the carbon and water cycles.” One of the core principles in this system is the need for megafauna, large livestock such as sheep and cattle. Ricardo says that, “in temperate environments, megafauna prevent forests from moving in on grasslands; and in arid environments, megafauna prevent grasslands from becoming a desert.” To better understand these relationships, Ricardo and WEST have created a demonstration site on land purchased by WEST that used to be part of Ricardo’s family’s ranch. They are conducting a project to compare the impact of conventional grazing—a small number of animals in a very large area for long periods of time (months to years)—to high-density grazing—a larger number of animals in a very small area for very short periods of time (hours to days). As Ricardo explains, this high-density grazing concentrates and evenly distributes the beneficial animal wastes and the trampling of plants back into the soil to feed beneficial soil organisms. The animals then don’t come back to this land until the space is ready to be grazed again. Also, in alignment with the principles of EWN, Ricardo is committed to advancing the practice of working with nature through training. He is an accredited professional with the Savory Institute and trains land managers in holistic management: holistic financial planning, holistic ecological monitoring, holistic land planning, and holistic planned grazing. In 2024, Ricardo will offer training courses through DAAWN, the nonprofit Savory Hub, one of a network of local learning centers affiliated with the Savory Institute that offer services to support local farming, ranching, or pastoralist communities, tailored to their specific needs. For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at • •
    41m 29s
  • Continuing the EWN Journey

    9 JAN 2024 · It’s a new year and we’re kicking off a new season of the Engineering With Nature® Podcast! Season 7 launches on January 24. Host Sarah Thorne recently caught up with Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature Program, to discuss highlights from Season 6 and give us a glimpse of what’s ahead. The EWN Podcast launched in July 2020, and as Jeff notes, “One of the biggest highlights has certainly been the number of listeners that are coming to our space. For those out there, thank you so much for listening. He adds, “We really appreciate the interest and the support of our listeners from around the world. Everywhere I go—meetings, conferences, workshops—people are listening to our podcast, and they are truly engaged. They love what we’re doing. It’s incredibly exciting to get that kind of feedback.” Sarah and Jeff review highlights from Season 6—the theme was Expanding the EWN Lattice. The wide array of topics covered included the historic wildfire season in Canada that dramatically affected air quality across Canada and in many US states; the application of nature-based solutions (NBS) in the Boston area to address sea-level rise, reduce flooding, and build coastal resilience; new guidelines for the application of thin-layer placement of dredged materials; the importance of dunes in the coastal environment; preservation of historic, culturally significant St. Croix Island by using NBS; and the science behind the importance of nature to health and well-being. Season 6 featured a broad range of researchers, practitioners, and leaders—scientists, engineers, landscape architects, authors, and others—within the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) other US federal agencies, industry, nongovernmental organizations, First Nations, and others. All focused on innovative approaches to incorporating nature-based solutions into their work and encouraging others to do so. Sarah notes the synergy that continues to build among EWN practitioners, “All of these people are bringing their passion. I hope the work of all the people we’ve had on our podcast inspires the next generation to really dig in and learn these new techniques and advance the practices of EWN and NBS.” The theme for Season 7 is Continuing the EWN Journey. As Jeff explains, “We want to continue on this journey—keep sharing more of the wonderful topics that come our way and the interesting people we are blessed to get to know on this journey. ‘Continuing the EWN Journey’ conveys that. Listeners can expect another impressive lineup of shows in Season 7, including episodes on innovative technologies; government policy related to nature-based solutions; discussions with international practitioners; conversations with leaders from not-for-profit organizations, agency partners, and Engineering With Nature USACE District Proving Grounds; along with coverage of important EWN events. As Sarah says, “So many people are really making a significant contribution to advancing NBS and EWN. We want to share their stories and their passion.” Mark your calendar for the launch of Season 7 on January 24! In Episode 1, we’re speaking with Ricardo Aguirre, a rancher, practicing engineer, and educator who’s doing groundbreaking work applying EWN-type approaches to land management. He talks about how traditional practices have negatively impacted landscape and soils, particularly with respect to climate change. He is thinking about things differently in terms of holistic water harvesting and land management practices that can be more effective. We hope you’ll tune in. - - -
    36m 27s
  • A Conversation with Florence Williams about The Nature Fix

    12 DEC 2023 · Can nature make us happier, healthier and more creative? The simple answer is yes … and it’s been scientifically proven. In Season 6, Episode 10, hosts Sarah Thorne and Jeff King, Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program, USACE, welcome Florence Williams, a renowned journalist, author, speaker, and podcaster who spent over three years traveling around the world talking with leading scientists about how to quantify the benefits of nature on people’s health and well-being. Florence joins us to talk about her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, and what she has learned on her journey. As a contributing editor for Outside Magazine, Florence is sometimes assigned stories; but when she was asked to write about the science behind why we feel good in nature, the assignment immediately spoke to her. What started out as a magazine story ended up as a book. In writing The Nature Fix, Florence was motivated by what she calls our “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors,” which involves the shift to moving to cities and simply spending less time outside. Florence notes the growing volume of scientific study in this area. “There’s a ton of mounting evidence. When you consider all these different scales and types of studies, it becomes really, really powerful.” Florence likes to “witness the science”. The first stop on her journey was Japan, where a physiological anthropologist, Yoshifumi Miyazaki has been studying “forest bathing”. Florence explains “forest bathing is the idea of being in a nature space, almost like sunbathing.” She notes that after just 15 minutes of sitting in the woods or walking around trails there are significant positive physiological changes on metrics like blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and hormone levels. On another stop, Florence met with David Strayer, a cognitive neuroscientist. He believed that he got his best ideas after being on the river and became interested in the “three-day effect”—a term coined by a bookseller in Salt Lake City who noticed that some “magic” seems to happen after three days outside. Florence joined Dr. Strayer’s class, Cognition in the Wild at the University of Utah, when they went camping in the desert. “It was a helpful way for me to start to frame some of the theories about what’s going on in our brains and then of course to experience some of it too by spending three days outside.” When asked about potential learnings for EWN, Florence notes the importance of designing spaces, especially in urban areas, where our senses can come alive in a comfortable way. “When we’re in modern life and in our cities, our senses are assaulted in ways that we just accept and don’t really think a lot about.” On a trip to Seoul, South Korea, she visited the Cheonggyecheon canal that had been redesigned to be a natural space. “They daylighted it and landscaped it and put trees around this canal. Acoustic engineers came up with water features and a walking path. When you descend into this lovely trail, you don’t hear the traffic noise. You hear the sound of water and birds.” Florence believes that these kinds of urban natural spaces should play a significant role in infrastructure projects. Her call to action is this: “We can construct our lives in a way that helps facilitate our mental health; that should be a priority for all of us and for our children and for our neighborhoods. I really encourage people to get involved with their communities, encourage more trees, more playgrounds, more parks, more recess for kids.” For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the at · ·
    45m 56s

For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a...

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For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a broad range of economic, environmental, and social benefits. EWN, as it is called, is developing and implementing nature-based solutions for infrastructure, engineering, and water projects.

EWN brings together a growing international community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, from all kinds of disciplines to collaborate on how best to harness the power of nature to innovate, solve problems, and create sustainable solutions.

This podcast tells their stories.

It’s a show about innovation and collaboration. It is about combining natural and engineering systems. And it is about amazing results for infrastructure, the environment, and communities. Scientists and experts will talk about how they are transforming traditional approaches to infrastructure challenges across the US and around the world by applying the principles and practices of EWN.

Sarah Thorne of Decision Partners has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the EWN initiative for the past decade, and, through this podcast, will share stories of the people, their unique collaborations, and a broad range of projects that exemplify the principles and practices of EWN.
We hope you’ll listen to the show and be inspired!
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