Communities

Empowering Local People in Conservation Work

We recognize the crucial link between healthy, wild lands and the quality of life of the people in and near them. The same linkage between nature and culture is vital in urban settings. Our work with both urban and rural communities reveals their strengths and aspirations. In the process we give voice to the value that people, in whatever setting, find in the conservation of natural resources.

Our approach is focused on the assets local people bring to the conservation process and identifies (1) the strengths of their local organizations, (2) their ecological knowledge, (3) their use of natural resources, (4) their cultural practices related to sustainable livelihoods, and (5) their aspirations for the future.

Working with Communities in the Andes-Amazon

Together with partner organizations, we work with communities living in or around protected areas. Typically, these are communities whose livelihoods depend heavily or almost entirely on the health of the surrounding forest. We focus on the quality of life of local people and design a strategy that engages local communities in the management, land-use planning, and long-term success of the protected area. 

Working With Communities in the Chicago Region

We help urban communities design and develop environmental programs and plans that build on their local assets and address quality of life concerns. Our method is to work with communities to identify their assets and give voice to the value that people find in the conservation of natural resources. With the consent and colloboration of the local partners, the museum brings resources of its scientific staff to work in the community with the goal of building local capacity.

Current projects include:

  • Calumet National Heritage Area
  • Climate Action Toolkit
  • Contemporary Urban Collections
  • People and the Kankakee Landscape
  • The Roots & Routes Initiative