Thursday, January 5, 2012

Field trip!

As  a newbie to the AALS conference, I was relieved to learn that no permission slip was required to attend the Environmental Law Committee and Natural Resources Law Committee Field Trip, which was held today at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.  It was a wonderful time, and I met a number of great scholars I hope to get to know better over the years.

For those that weren’t able to attend, I thought I’d share a couple ideas that I found useful and fun, which are, I admit, idiosyncratically chosen from among the idea-packed day:

 --A panel of academics who had spent time in the administration spoke about the role of academics in relation to governance.  A number of insights were mentioned.  One idea a panelist mentioned that  I liked went to the heart of making scholarship useful, and recommended that writing the law review article was just the first step.  After that, she suggested writing a shorter version for a lay audience, and then trying to place an op-ed.  Perhaps this “three-fer” strategy is one we could all try as a path to both prominence and relevance.

 --A great panel about urban parks introduced a new idea to me, which is that of “redfields.”  Redfields were defined as those properties that might have been overleveraged and are now underperforming, especially in our urban areas, and where there is no perceived foreseeable chance of redevelopment.  Think of that strung out strip mall or abandoned factory you walk or drive by.  The concept is to turn “redfields to greenfields,” re-purposing these areas as parks, and in turn, using parks as a means of driving economic development of the area.  Those interested in the idea can learn more here. I thought this was a novel idea and one worth a closer look.  (And speaking of taking a closer look in urban parks, have you seen the amazing photography of MacArthur genius grant recipient Walter Kitundu, who does amazing photos of birds in urban parks?  Check it out.)

--For the techie, a speaker from the Smithsonian noted that the museum now has an app you can download that will let you identify tree species from leaves.  It’s called Leafsnap.  Maybe you should download it for that next hiking trip.

 That’s all from AALS today.  More tomorrow.

 Stephen Miller

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