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Van Alen Virtual Book Club:
The Nature Fix

UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Alen Book Club is a purely virtual affair for the time being. In an effort to recreate the conversational nature of our meetings within this new format, space is limited for this event. Those previously enrolled for the original iteration of this event will be given priority.  

May 26, 7–8:30 pm

A Zoom link will be provided to registrants prior to the event. 


Can more exposure to nature consistently improve your mood? Can even a glimpse of a tree, park, or river better your health? Should you put yourself on a nature “diet”? In The Nature Fix, Florence Williams’ reporting prompts these questions and more. Throughout she pushes researchers to explain humankind’s connection to the natural world, and explores the myriad implications for urban living.

This month’s book is available at a discount from the following independent booksellers:
Community Bookstore (Park Slope) – 20% discount
Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene) – 15% discount
(Just say you’re with Van Alen Book Club at check-out)

About the Moderator

Dr. Robert McDonald is Lead Scientist for the Global Cities program at The Nature Conservancy. He researches the impact and dependencies of cities on the natural world, and helps direct the science behind much of the Conservancy’s urban conservation work. He holds a PhD in Ecology from Duke University and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and a recent book, entitled Conservation for Cities (Island Press) which documents the role green infrastructure can play in the well-being of urban residents.

Prior to joining the Conservancy, Rob was a Smith Conservation Biology Fellow at Harvard University, studying the impact global urban growth will have on biodiversity and conservation. He also taught landscape ecology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, helping architects and planners incorporate ecological principles into their projects. He holds a B.S. degree in biology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rob recently wrote an essay examining the relationship between COVID-19 and cities, and the ramifications it might have for the moving forward. He challenges the burgeoning narrative that the pandemic might trigger large-scale urban flight and considers ways the current crisis might be used to make cities greener and more sanitary.


Van Alen Book Club meets the last Tuesday of every month (except December) in our street-level space. Our discussions, moderated by some of our favorite urbanists, use the urban experience in fiction and non-fiction as a springboard to ask how we experience cities, and how we want to make them in the future. Meetings are open to all, and include pizza, wine, and beer.

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