What is StAND?

The Study of Active Neighborhoods in Detroit (StAND) is a collaborative research project between Michigan State University, Detroit Audubon and the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department. The study is led by Dr. Amber Pearson, Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University. We aim to better understand the link between nature and active and healthy neighborhoods in Detroit.

Why does this matter?

This research aims to better understand the health of Detroit residents and how we can improve neighborhood conditions while also improving the natural environment. Through this research, we hope to better understand how to support and create active and healthy neighborhoods for everyone.

In an increasingly urbanized world, many people have become disconnected from nature. Yet, contact with nature is fundamental for human health and quality of life. Across the globe, it is estimated that 55% of the population currently resides in cities. Many cities lack easy access to natural spaces or 'greenspaces', particularly in low-income areas. Contemporary lifestyles and neighborhood conditions have led to increased public health concerns, including lack of physical activity, little time spent outdoors, and the rising prevalence of mental health and chronic disease issues.

This research aims to better understand the health of Detroit residents and how we can improve neighborhood conditions while also improving the natural environment. Through this research, we hope to better understand how to support and create active and healthy neighborhoods for everyone

Why Detroit?

We hope to learn about what makes neighborhoods active and healthy. By conducting this study in Detroit, we hope to promote Detroit as a beacon of healthy, active neighborhoods for other cities across the USA and beyond.

Our Research Partners

Detroit Audubon and City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department

Our Funding

We are funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute and the Detroit Medical Center. Additionally, we are funded by:

Detroit Audubon

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Michigan State University



Moss: Carbon Sink Wonder

By Ventra Asana, D. Min, Community Liaison

StAND, MSU Submitted September 15, 2023

Moss Image with violet mushrooms
Image Source:Pixabay

The next time you go walking – whether through the neighborhood or in your own backyard – look down and observe the lowly tuffs of moss you see there. It’s recently been discovered that soils containing moss have properties that can be vastly beneficial to ecological balance.

Sara Klimek reports in the online magazine, The Cooldown (www.the that geoscientist David J. Eldridge et. al additionally found that “mossy soils had greater cycling of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous … [acting] as a carbon sink by keeping … 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.” Further, mossy soils have the potential to help restore soils that have been destroyed or degraded because of fires, desertification, and other climate disasters. With so many dire reports afloat, it’s truly refreshing to learn that this discovery points the way to some good news to mitigate some of the damages related to climate change.

Hope for Ocean

By Ventra Asana, D. Min, Community Liaison

StAND, MSU Submitted June 28, 2023

While dire reports proliferate about the acceleration of climate change, it is refreshing to also learn that nature is creating its own defenses to save the planet. One such example is the existence of “Neptune Balls” – seagrass spheres that form under certain ocean conditions to capture floating pieces of plastic. In an exciting article on the subject marine biology scientist Anna Sanchez-Vidal, from University of Barcelona, reports that “…plastic debris in the seafloor can be trapped in seagrass remains, eventually leaving the marine environment through beaching" ( Not only are the spheres beautiful, but they also restore polluted water, which authors Macnamara and Hood report “…absorb CO2…exude oxygen and are a natural nursey and refuge for hundreds of species of fish.”
In this summer season that has just begun, it might prove greatly advantageous to consider how much plastic we consume, as homage to continuing the fight to keep it out of our waterways. In that effort, it is hopeful to discover that nature is assisting us by absorbing as much as it can.

SHAC lab research

StAND, MSU Submitted June 1, 2023

SHAC lab research highlighted in MSU Today: This research was conducted by current and former lab members, Katie Brown, Aaron Reuben and Kim Clevenger, with mentorship from Dr. Pearson and Dr. Pfeiffer. We found that nature views from classrooms, and trees in particular, may lower behavior issues in young children. Check out the article!

Assisting Green Science

By Ventra Asana, D. Min, Community Liaison

StAND, MSU Submitted May 10, 2023


If you re like some people distressed at the accelerating travesty of earth destruction in its many forms like increasingly shrinking animal populations, polluted waterways, extremes in weather, and more then you may not be aware of a dynamic way to help mitigate these problems. Citizen Science is a burgeoning field of practical application to assist scientists in their overall data collection. It is described as scientific research conducted with participation from the general public (See In this practice, ordinary citizens can choose an area of science to monitor and partner with professionals in that field to record data on the subject.

There are numerous such avenues, resources, and references for novice citizen scientists to get started. However, the most important task is to first identify what most interests you. Are you passionate about birds extinction? Then the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( provides opportunities to log bird migrations. Or if you want to help ensure more plastics reduction, contact the Oceanic Society in their project Global Ocean Cleanup ( Maybe you want to monitor the skies? Head on over to The American Association of Variable Star Observers to become part of their Citizen Sky group ( Additionally, many resources exist to inform citizen scientists including organizations like Citizen Science Association ( and others, and references like The Field Guide to Citizen Science (Cavalier, Hoffman, and Cooper). Take some time to explore ways you can get more involved in active earth care by considering if the arena of citizen science interests you.

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Greening the Roof

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

March 30, 2023

Reducing or mitigating climate change is a long game, with no quick fixes. Though it may seem easier to adopt behaviors like using recycle bins, consuming products that promote “zero waste”, or reducing carbon overloads by walking, biking, or carpooling – everyday realities often find us slipping back into habits that may be easier. That’s nothing to fret about. Improving the planet will require all these actions and more, as each of us explore new paths.

Adopting green roof technology is one such method that can considerably assist the planet. A green roof contains vegetation that is supported by a growing medium, rather than soil, under which a waterproof membrane is created to support the structure. While there are many methods that contribute to green roof construction, one source reports that there are at least five advantages to them (1) reduction of water runoff, (2) energy efficiency, (3) improved air quality, (4) beneficial to habitat and, (5) being longer lasting than regular roofs (

Image Source:Shutterstock

While it will require considerable physical and financial input to implement sustainable technologies like installing a green roof, the planet will do better overall. In this way, planning strategically in the present can help to ensure that future generations experience improved climate conditions. The present sacrifice is worth it, for long term climate gains.

Sustainable Coffee

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

February 23, 2023

Countless controversies swirl as to whether folk should be drinking coffee. Some specialists opine that it is detrimental to the nervous system, while others insist that it sharpens mental acuity. Former White House chef Sam Kass reports that coffee is one of the world’s foods that will become scarce, along with others like rice, wine, chocolate, and shellfish ( But if you enjoy the taste of a freshly brewed “cuppa jitter juice” it is extremely important to sustainably support the farmers who grow coffee.

Studies show that the coffee most consumed by drinkers is of the “coffee Arabica” varietals. Many blends of coffee derive from this main type. However, it is a crop more adversely impacted by certain factors, including climate change (extreme temperatures, drought) and excess deforestation. Experts are urging coffee producers to diversity their crops by planting coffee Robusto. This type of coffee has been shown to stand up more strongly against destructive forces than does coffee Arabica ( However, currently the production of this coffee varietal is more expensive for farmers to grow. It will require sacrifices on the part of consumers to support those who sustainably grow coffee, by purchasing it in our grocery stores and markets. While this sacrifice directly affects our budget, it is one small way to contribute to the continued production of good coffee, so as to push back against the stoppage of coffee, altogether.

Black History Month!

Black History Month

Feet, Hearts Forward!

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

January 25, 2023

Here we go again, into the wild blue yonder, challenged by a New Year. Like me, you may be considering what will be the actions you’ll undertake as goals in several areas: personal, societal, spiritual, etc. I see 2023 as a chance to add to this list the intention to create an “earth care” plan that will make sense to you, and that will actually be doable.

For me, this earth care plan includes shoring up/improving tasks already done inp revious years. For example, continuing community gardening work with Keep Growing Detroit, where we pay memberships to obtain quality seeds and hot and cold crop plants, and attend specialized workshops in canning, mushroom growing and so much more. I also want to keep supporting the butterflies through the auspices of LaNita’s Butterfly Garden, to help the creatures find the best habitat to thrive. There may be more I can do, but I think these are agood place to start.

How about you? Have you thought about what earth care assistance you can provide in the city? You don’t have to take on the whole world of ecology reform – just deciding to do something can make all the difference to improve our environment!

Loving Earth, Recycling Trees

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

November 25, 2022

It’s that time of year again when our thoughts and actions turn to celebrations of the holidays. It’s astounding that decorations for them start cropping up in stores right after Halloween. We can scarcely catch our breath for one season before we’re being pushed into the next, and the next. But it’s as important as ever to hold fast to our determination to engage critical earth care at year-end, as we have throughout the year.

One thing that can greatly benefit the planet is to recycle our living Christmas trees. There are several uses for leftover trees that serve the natural habitat, contribute to landscape restoration and more. Several great tips for recycling trees suggested from The National Christmas Association ( include

  • • Leaving trees at curbside for pickup
  • • Drop-off at recycling centers
  • • Donating them for municipal mulch programs
  • • Donation to nonprofits for fundraising projects
  • • Adding to the compost bin

With so many opportunities to carefully consider keeping trees out of the landfill, we are practicing yet another aspect of intentional earth care. If you are setting up a live tree this year, take some time now to choose one of these ideas to implement. The earth and its creatures will thank you.

Biophilic Design

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

October 25, 2022

You may have heard the saying: “There’s nothing new under the sun”, thought to have had origins in the ancient biblical text of Ecclesiastes and probably overused today. But recently while attending the 6th Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) held at Wayne State University, I discovered an earth-friendly building practice being used more frequently across the globe: biophilic design. Biophilic design is an architectural strategy that combines elements of nature and space to afford beauty and well-being for human occupants. While the term itself is new to me, research reveals that the idea has been around since the “hanging gardens of Babylon” (, while Wikipedia discusses psychoanalyst Eric Fromm having first evolved biophilia as a theoretical framework wherein humans express a profound passion for life “whether…person, plant, idea or social group”, modern day architects attribute its origins to Edward O. Wilson (1984).

In the session “Rooftop Oasis: A Transformation for Health and Wholeness” biophilic architect Anne M. Cox discussed that one of the key components is to provide nature-oriented design for effective health and wellness. This is accomplished by using features of water, plants, air, light and direct views of nature, as well as artworks that incorporate these elements in the design. As viewers in the session, we were privy to the effectiveness of biophilic design, in that the lecture room was created to focus our gaze on plants and direct light from the campus. This allowed a sense of calmness, helping me to even transcend the frantic pace of the Forum, itself. I departed with a renewed hope that this type of design can be used to restore cities and their residents to spaces of increased tranquility, even in the midst of excessive urban noise and chaos.

HELL STRIPS: An Undersirable Name for a Desirable Outcome

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

September 27, 2022

Whatever you might contemplate when you hear the word “hell”, it probably conjures unpleasant thoughts and images. Many of these derive from depictions of torture and agony inflicted upon ne’er-do-wells, doomed to suffer eternally in the next life, because of their misdoings in this one (think Dante’s The Divine Comedy in literature and Ebenezer Scrooge in film). Probably few people would equate notions of hell with “the good life”–and it’s doubtless the same for anything with the word hell as a description.

It’s no less so for an area of landscape called “hell strips”. These scant patches between the street and sidewalk are most often littered with ugly weeds, litter, and other debris. Most of us walk past them without any regard to their potential. But hell strips can offer great contributions to air quality, habitat for bees and butterflies, and visual enjoyment.

young girl drawing with chalk

Image Source:iStock

Because the soil may be of poor quality it’s important to build it up a bit before planting. And be sure to check with municipal authorities before putting in plants, as well. A thorough study of the best perennial plants for pollinators can be found through the Michigan State extension at and for a great read on hell strips, visit this website Let’s hope that the next time you hear “hell”, you’ll equate it with the opportunity to do something good for the environment and neighborhood!

On Water, Part 2: Those Incredible Beavers!

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

September 1, 2022

I've recently been astonished to learn that the odd-looking beaver could be the antidote to stem some of the disastrous effects of the world's current drought conditions. It seems that the beaver–though often considered a nuisance to private property owners and land management systems such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (Department of the Interior)–can still be viewed as conducive to restoring natural water systems such as rivers and lakes.

It cannot be ignored that the destructive traits of beavers are worrying. For example, one study demonstrates that they can “cause damage by 1) gnawing on trees or crops; 2) flooding trees, crops, property, or transportation corridors (roads, airports, railways) through dam building; and 3) degrading and destabilizing banks and levees through burrowing” (See: These types of infrastructural devastations not only destabilize the natural environment, but also result in astronomical costs to revitalize the landscape.

However, it is imperative to also acknowledge the ways in which beavers help to restore droughted land to flourished conditions. For example, as beavers build dams they improve the landscape by 1) causing streams of water to go deeper, which allows them to be cooler, 2) improve groundwater by cooling it down and forcing it to the surface, resulting in cooler air temperatures, and helping to slow fire burns by flooding land with water (See: All these improved conditions, assisted by the enterprising work of beavers, point to some good news for mitigating climate change because of drought conditions. Well done, beavers!

On Water, Part 1: In the Face of Severe Drought Consider the Art of the Bund

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

July 27, 2022

There is a huge need for ecological restoration for the earth to replenish its water reserves. In the U.S. and globally, skirmishes over who “owns” water resources often degenerate into the issue of “water conflict”. This term describes “a conflict between countries, states, or groups over the rights to access water resources” (See: Wikipedia, Water Conflict). Currently in the U.S. several states have long jealously observed that Michigan, as one of eight states situated within the Great Lakes Basin, should share its water with less arid areas including California and Nevada. Legal battles are being waged as to how much, if any, Michigan water should be shared.

However, there is some good news. One exciting exception to this problem is the cultivation of a method to restore water by creating bunds. Bunds are “semi-circular shaped pits that capture rainwater” ( In Tanzania and other African countries, the nonprofit Just Dig It trains residents to dig bunds to regreen areas where previously there was no vegetation. The process is successfully growing green landscape, and even protects against flooding. How can we learn from this and reflect on our water abundance in Michigan?

before and after picture of a field
Image Source:Justdiggit

Petosky Prize Winner 2022

By Dr. Amber Pearson

June 30, 2022

Diane Cheklich accepting the Petosky Prize 2022

Detroit Audubon's Diane Cheklich is awarded the Petosky Prize 2022 from Michigan Environmental Council. Diane has worked tirelessly to establish Detroit Bird City, in an effort to conserve bird habitat in Detroit, a major flyway for hundreds of bird species annually.Click here to view article.

Learn more about Detroit Bird City here:


By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

June 15,2022

There is so much that is devastating in today's world, that it often feels overwhelming to the point of no return. Yet again, the economy is in dire straits, with inflation adversely tanking our savings, running up grocery bills and severely curtailing the use of our gas-guzzling vehicles. And there is yet another war draining the nation’s coffers, between Russia and the Ukraine. At some point one could wonder: how are we ever going to right these wrongs?

Well, while it’s understandable that despair might be the order of the day, there are many things we can do to stem the negative emotional tide. Getting into nature doesn’t require any depletion of our money reserves – it’s free for the taking. A very effective technique for restoring our emotional timbre is to practice “earthing”, sometimes called “grounding”. It’s the process of walking or standing barefoot on the earth, and it’s deemed as extremely beneficial to the body. Studies reveal that it connects the body to free electrons in the earth’s magnetic field such that maladies like high blood pressure, depression, sleeplessness and more, are rerouted to improve overall health. There is a maelstrom of disagreement about whether earthing is real or a hoax. But what I know is this: when I take off my shoes and stand on the cool grass or walk on the warm sand at the beach at Belle Isle, I can almost hear my body’s cells singing praise to me. It is just a momentary reprieve. But I begin to relax. I feel at peace and exhilarate from this small act of enjoying nature. And the noise of daily life is silenced in the doing of nature encounter, rather than all the relentless talk about it. Try it…you will be pleasantly surprised.

Forest Bathing

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

May 2,2022

Recently, there has been a surfeit of ecological articles on the trend of “forest bathing” and its beneficial attributes. Forest bathing – derived from adherents in Japan – is the term given to describe the practice of connecting to the beauty of nature by immersing oneself in woodlands, be they forests, parks or wilderness landscapes. Practitioners claim that it can restore one to increased health, particularly in the areas of sharpened focus to observe nature, restore the body to more optimal functioning, lessen anxiety and other depressive maladies.

Like many, I sometimes grow weary of the seemingly unending admonishments to do more to steward the earth, for there is so much to do. We are constantly bombarded with the need to recycle, reuse, redo – to be steadfast in our efforts as eco-contributors. So, I skeptically categorized this idea of forest bathing as one more thing to add to my bucket list. But Im willing to undertake the challenge. The closest “forest” in Detroit is Belle Isle Park, a 982-acre island and city-owned park run by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Whenever I venture out to the park, I’m newly amazed at its beauty and diversity of bird life, insects, and flowers. And while it’s presently too chilly for me to stand in a thicket of trees with high winds blowing, I’m rather curious to see how I’ll feel when the weather warms up. I want to give myself the gift of nature washing over me, helping me to reduce stress and come further alive. This is one challenge I want to undertake – how about you?

Jumpstarting Spring

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

March 9, 2022

In these early days of March, we may be chafing at the bit, eager to get on with the budding of flowers and trees, fresh breezes and sustained warmth. After prolonged ravages of snow and ice, it's no wonder that we want to jumpstart spring season. Whether you’re a gardener, a picnicker or even someone who just wants to take a good walk or run, it looks like the winter continues to obstinately cling to the calendar. But brighter days are imminent.

One way to satisfy such longings is to visit a nearby botanical garden. These gardens – often administered by colleges and universities – were created to demonstrate the diversity of plants from local and global collections, with their botanical names displayed. One source says “... [they] may contain … cacti and other succulent plants, herb gardens … tropical plants, alpine plants, or other exotic plants” (See

There are many botanical gardens that may satisfy that “spring itch”. In East Lansing, why not take in the views at the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden, located on the campus of Michigan State University? This garden identifies itself as the oldest in the United States, “established in 1873 by Professor William James Beal ( Another MSU botanical garden can be found at the Clarence E. Lewis Landscape Arboretum, which was found in 1984. This garden was uniquely established to assist landscape students in their careers. Finally, in Detroit, there is the beautiful Anna Scripps Howard Conservatory located on Belle Isle State Park. Created in 1904, the conservatory sits on 13 acres, features an 85-foot dome to accommodate tropical palms, and is touted as the oldest facility of its kind in the United States. I’m convinced that a visit to any of these magnificent gardens will instantly refresh our winter-worn souls.

Anna Scripps Howard Conservatory at Belle Isle

Image Source:

Try a Rain Chain

FOCUS: Raingardens, bioswales, rain chains

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

February 15, 2022

In the quest to work more sustainably with the environment to mitigate climate change ravages, the use of a rain chain presents a great opportunity to harvest water. The rain chain - increasingly becoming more popular in the United States - had its origins in Japanese culture. They are used in two main capacities: (1) as decorative items to adorn religious temples, and (2) residentially, to capture water for reuse in Japanese homes. In the classical structure, they consist of a series of bell shapes with a hole in the bottom, through which the rain can be directed. they can also be vertical chain links from which the rain cascades, freeform or into a catchment. Of course, rain chains can also be shaped in a variety of designs.

Rain Chain

Image Source: Pixaby

Rain chains are not only aesthetically beautiful, but they also are a practical way to harvest rain reserves. Particularly, when coupled with a rain barrel, they can further provide much-needed water for the garden as well as preventing sewer overflows. Can you imagine how beautiful neighborhoods would be with the installation of rain chains? We might want to challenge ourselves this year to exchange a downspout with a rain chain as another viable method of earth stewardship!

Water Remediation Part 2

FOCUS: Raingardens, bioswales, rain chains

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

January 4, 2022

The problem of water excesses brought about by climate change is almost solely enough to discourage us from forming solutions to turn it around. To wit, the recent summer flood incidents in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs caused residents to lose not only material goods, but also resulted in structural damage to basement walls and home foundations. A few years earlier in 2018, residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula experienced major roads washed away, homes saturated with mud, and sadly, the loss of lives. In both cases, Michigan was granted emergency relief status on recommendation of former Governor Rick Snyder and current Governor Gretchen Whitmer, which allowed federal assistance to provide relief.

While federal relief is certainly foremost to help restore systems damaged by catastrophic rain events, there are some more immediate methods that we can do to help mitigate excess water runoff. Two of these include rain gardens and bioswales.

A rain garden is a system that provides a catchment for rain overflow to collect in a shallow earth depression in which vegetation is planted, as well as drainage materials like a gravel bed and larger rocks. The depression should be approximately 8-10 inches, with a sloping portion that will allow rain to pool so as to absorb into the soil. It is helpful to know the exact composition of the soil, as clay soil will respond better with the addition of peat or gravel ( 

Bioswales provide additional strong deterrents from overflooding, but they are much more involved than constructing a rain garden. They require a buildout of more at least 10 feet away from a home or building. Additionally, measurements must include necessary slope and depth of at least 6-10 inches, and account for center placement of the depression. This can be more easily determined by using a bioswale calculator (

Whether deciding to build a raingarden or a bioswale, these are two viable solutions to mitigate storm runoff that will greatly benefit the landscape and contribute to healthy animal and bird life as well.

Water, Protecting Our Precious Resource Part 1

By Ventra Asana, D. Min., Community Liaison

October 13, 2021

Ask almost anyone their views on the worth of water and you’ll hear that it is valuable. We can survive in dire situations for a while without food, but most indicators show that people can endure for about three days without water. Not only is water central to the successful function of our vital organs and overall health, this natural resource is crucial to the restoration of the earth, overall. And as catastrophic climate change continues to rage, decimating forests, land masses, air and soil, water is equally caught in its ravages. Many global communities are being devastated by extreme water weather events like floods, mudslides, drought and much more – all precipitated by either the severe lack of, or too much water. In the case of the former, droughts are devastating life for villages in Madagascar, while the World Atlas reports that at least 10 countries have the greatest issues of water shortages, including Ethiopia, the Sudan, China, Iran, Uganda and others (

Meanwhile, in the United States at least “…90 percent of what it considers the West — California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana — is in drought.” (see

The problem of excess water is also worsening in the U.S. Increasingly, cities and rural areas are repeatedly experiencing the oversaturation of water runoff that floods basements, overruns seawalls and sewerage drains.

What can we do to mitigate these problems?

In the case of water excesses, green stormwater systems offer some indicators that excess water runoff can provide relief. While some systems like French drain installations, geothermal construction and installing meadows may prove cost prohibitive for most homeowners, there are some less expensive methods to contain rainwater. Particularly, constructing rain gardens and bioswales are two ways that can greatly contribute to green stormwater improvements. Stay tuned to more discussion on how these systems can be implemented.

The Problem with City Trees

by Ventra Asana, D.Min./Community Liaison-StAND

September 7, 2021

Environmentalists have long discussed this as a vital need to mitigate the harmful effects of catastrophic climate change, including rising land temperatures. While no one is exempt, for communities that are economically disenfranchised, especially those of color, the issue of hard concrete surfaces in city neighborhoods exacerbates the problem of rising temperatures, resulting in “heat islands”. Where there is a lack of tree canopies, residents suffer from the effects of heatstroke and other ailments directly related to extreme heat events. A recent article by Nina Ignaczak in Planet Detroit ( underscores the necessity to provide adequate tree cover for several impoverished urban areas in Michigan. Further, the nonprofit organization American Forests provides a “Tree Equity Score” for determining adequate tree cover in such communities, with a score of up to 100 wherein the lowest scale highlights the dire need to plant more trees.  Examining vastly differing economic extremes in two Michigan cities, Bloomfield Hills and Detroit (the articles lists several more), we learn that the suburb of Bloomfield Hills has a score of 100, while Detroit City hovers around 80. Though the lower score is not as bad as some cities, it highlights the problem of neighborhoods that have little housing and huge swaths of vacant land, without enough trees.

white petaled flower

There is some good news. Several community groups are working to restore tree canopy in urban areas. Residents are working with The Greening of Detroit ( in a series of tree plantings to share more trees. The organization has planted over 130,000 trees since 1989. Though the city will have to work very hard to restore its once lush tree canopy, there is great hope that tree restoration is well on the way!

Black Birder's Week

March 25, 2021

It is national black birder's week May 30 - June 5 !!!. Birders Week

Research Article: A synthesis of health benefits of natural sounds and their distribution in national parks

By Rachel Buxton, Amber Pearson, Claudia Allou, Kurt Fristrup,& George Wittemyer

April 6, 2021

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America peer reviewed journal, read the research article by Rachel Buxton (Carleton University), Amber Pearson (Michigan State University), Claudia Allou (Michigan State University), Kurt Fristrup (Colorado State University), and George Wittemyer (Colorado State University): A synthesis of health benefits of natural sounds and their distribution in national parks. “This study examines evidence of the health benefits of natural soundscapes and quantifies the prevalence of restorative acoustic environments in national parks across the United States. The results affirm that natural sounds improve health, increase positive affect, and lower stress and annoyance. Also, analyses reveal many national park sites with a high abundance of natural sound and low anthropogenic sound. Raising awareness of natural soundscapes at national parks provides opportunities to enhance visitor health outcomes. Despite more abundant anthropogenic sound, urban and frequently visited sites offered exposure to natural sounds associated with health benefits, making them a valuable target for soundscape mitigation. Our analysis can inform spatial planning that focuses on managing natural soundscapes to enhance human health and experiences.” 

Listening to Nature Gives You a Real Rocky Mountain High

April 5, 2021

In read about how Listening to Nature Gives You a Real Rocky Mountain High: Sounds like birdsong and flowing water may alleviate stress, help lower blood pressure and lead to feelings of tranquility. Carleton University conservation biologist Rachel “Buxton teamed up with researchers from the National Park Service and Colorado State University to author a 2019 study documenting manmade noise in U.S. national parks. The study was part of a growing pile of research exploring noise’s negative impacts on animals and humans alike. Noise makes it hard for animals to find food and mates and can lead humans to suffer stress, high blood pressure and other ailments.” 

Soothing Sounds of Nature Helps Boost Mental Health

March 29, 2021

Watch 9 News reporter Marc Sallinger interview Rachel Buxton (Carleton University) and George Wittemyer (Colorado State University) about the recent study A synthesis of health benefits of natural sounds and their distribution in national parks, published March 22, 2021 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We actually have pretty good evidence that there’s major health benefits to being exposed to nature. The evidence is really clear. Listening to natural sounds reduces stress, reduces annoyance and it’s correlated with positive health benefits,” said Wittemyer….."They’ve really gotten a lot of us through this pandemic. Spending time in parks, spending time listening to natural sounds, they’ve really gotten us through," said Buxton. "Close your eyes and listen to what’s around you. Listen to the birds singing and the wind rustling the leaves in the trees."

How Nature Sounds Affect Well Being

March 26, 2021

Treehugger, a blog that claims to be the world’s largest information site dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream, highlighted a paper by lead author Rachel Buxton (Carleton University) A synthesis of health benefits of natural sounds and their distribution in national parks.

“For their research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Buxton and her team identified three dozen studies that examined the health benefits of natural sound.... Some examples they found reported in those studies included decreased pain, lowered stress, improved mood, and better cognitive function. We found many health-bolstering sites in parks — sites with abundant natural sounds and little interference from noise. The importance of water sounds may relate to the critical role of water for survival, as well as the capacity of continuous water sounds to mask noise,” the researchers wrote, pointing out that water features are often used in landscapes to mask noise and to make urban greenspaces more pleasant…there was also some evidence that natural sounds have benefits over silence”. target="_blank">

Additional Information on the Impact that Nature's Sounds Have on Mental Health

This study is featured on News Center Maine’s page

This study is featured on Quirks and Quarks.

This is featured in HealthDay, the world’s largest syndicator of health news and content, and providers of custom health/medical content.

This study is featured in Country Living UK, a magazine that features lifestyle advice on health and fitness, country travel, and rural real estate. Country Living UK

This study is featured in Macau Business, Macau's oldest English language publication.

This study is featured on CTV news in Canada.

This study is featured in MentalFloss.


Community Supporters

The following organizations and businesses have supported our research in Detroit neighborhoods.