Urban Ecology meets Spatial Poetry

I delivered a series of workshops at a local high school this fall, including both Urban Ecology and Spatial Poetry. I felt there was a really big nexus where the two meet. The observation of the urban environment, both the natural and built world, lends itself to poetic description.
I remembered that earlier this year, I attended a program hosted by our Long Beach Department of Youth Development, called “My Hood, My City.” The City partnered with the Youth Leadership Institute. My Hood, My City – Youth Leadership Institute. I thought it also fit neatly into this nexus.
The program worked with youth to learn more about their own neighborhoods, historically or contemporarily, and to lead other members of the public on a tour of the locations that were meaningful or significant to them. I participated in the North Long Beach Tour, which met at our Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. It was a great example of letting youth lead while providing them with a creative outlet that became a medium for self-expression and community activism.

This picture shows our tour stop at nearby Houghton Park and Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center.

More pics from Spatial Poetry and Urban Ecology


Thanks for sharing this, @JacquiV! I like the remix you did here and agree with you that there is a big opportunity for these two activities to overlap. This chance for youth to not only learn and explore their neighborhood but also express their creativity is something we should encourage more often! :smiley:

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#activities:spatial-poetry This is my updated Canva presentation I used with some of the high school classes I presented to in December. We turned the examination to the spaces we inhabit as lands that belong to the Indigenous people, the Tongva People. We looked at some different poem formatting and devices. The outcomes were pretty nice. I used some examples from my own workshops, online poetry, and a few beta testers’ examples that were shared in our forum. This was only broadcast to my students. I found that the instructional zine was not so important for these students, but we did discuss the zine content with the whole group.

This workshop could be steered even more to the Spatial Poetry and #activities:urban-ecology intersection.

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Here is a workshop plan for the re-mix. Feel free to copy and rework it.

Spatial Poetry Meets Urban Ecology – A Remix

This activity operates best as a structured workshop for middle to high school aged participants. Originally, it was delivered as part of a high school outreach program. Participants explore the environment where they live and go to school, through information gathered by observation and through research. They will create reflections on their explorations.

  • Age Range: 10+

  • Group Size: 20-25 max, depending on time and staff

  • Number of Facilitators: 1 - 2

  • Activity Length: 1.5 hours, with possible follow-up sessions

  • Cost: $0 - whatever you can afford to spend, using materials on hand

Supply Kit

The materials are flexible and can be made up of whatever you have on hand, such as:

  • (Optional) blank[ zines](file:///C:/Users/staff/Downloads/d658b85d-b402-46cf-b8e4-149f6c1a2e86.pdf): folded & cut (How to)

  • paper of all types—cardstock, construction, watercolor, origami

  • markers, colored pencils, crayons, watercolors

  • Stencils

  • Stickers

  • Stamp pads and rubber stamps

  • Laptops/Tablets or computer access if researching together

  • Glue

  • Stapler

  • Scissors

  • Rulers

  • Clipboards

  • Collage materials (discarded picture books and magazines)

Workshop Prompts

This activity can be easily adapted to the history and geography of your locale. If possible, split the workshop into two sessions. The first session focuses on research into local history, maybe delving into a specific database. The second session takes us outside and then through the creation of a zine or poster. We zoom back down to the individual.

:office:Preparation: Research to find out the history of the land and the community. Check out websites with information about Indigenous Peoples to learn more about the history of your location. If time is short, select a specific database for students to explore with you, as a group.


:globe_with_meridians:Project: Create a zine or a poster that depicts how you interact with your environment. Thinking of what you learned about the Indigenous People who are the caretakers of this land, how do you feel about this place? Take your notebook outside and make observations about your environment and how you feel being here. You can collect samples, draw what you see, and write down your thoughts. Think about yourself and how you fit into this environment.

Example Projects

We used examples of stories, poetry and artworks from Tongva People, as well as other poets.

This website hosts the final projects of a class at The New School called Mapping the Field:


Facilitation Tips

Provide all kinds of materials to explore. Keep the format open-ended so students can create in the way they wish. Some students create more visual expressions, while others focus on the words. All creations are valid. Encourage students to use their senses. Circle story maps would be a suggested project for students having trouble getting started.

Links to fun poetry websites for inspiration and exploration

Auto-generated Haiku based on geographical location:


Magnetic Poetry Online: Magnetic Poetry : Play with the Nature Magnetic Poetry Kit

Map Resources

UCLA Mapping Indigenous LA: https://mila.ss.ucla.edu/

Google Earth enables you to create your own maps and projects:



Here is a link to the Canva slideshow I just presented. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Here is the padlet that we filled out as an icebreaker:

Feel free to add to it and play around. I like padlet.