Urban Nature

Hey, who spruced up this place?

July 29, 2012

Welcome to the new BayNature.org! We’ve just relaunched this site in a big way, and we’re pretty excited about what you’ll find here:

On a personal note, I first developed the creative brief for a new online trailfinder back in 2009. So this project is the culmination of more than two years of planning, fundraising, and, lately, lots of data wrangling, coding, and debugging. But what I’m most excited about is how the new BayNature.org propels us further in the direction of deep collaboration with the community of people and organization dedicated to exploring and stewarding the rich natural heritage of the Bay Area.

After more than a year of fundraising and mulling different approaches and software packages, we had a revelation in late 2011 that the best way forward was to work with some of our closest friends.

Our good friends at the Bay Area Open Space Council had already created TransitandTrails.org. How could we help build on that? Ken-ichi Ueda, a very creative local photographer, programmer, and naturalist, had recently built iNaturalist.org to help folks record and identify wildlife sightings. That’s our kind of thing!

And we at Bay Nature have amassed an unmatched archive of stories on local nature. (I can tell you from direct recent experience of switching from our old content management system to WordPress that we have 2,457 photos, 1,390 articles, 58 videos, 47 issues, 21 special sections — all created with the help of about 270 authors and two or three times that many photographers.)

So, we thought, what if the new BayNature.org brought all those threads together and invited your participation with reviews of parks and hikes and comments on our posts, articles, and videos? Even better, if you’re an ardent trail user, we’d love to have you on board as a Trailblazer! (Did I mention that the Trailblazer who logs the most new trails into our system in the next three months wins a cool REI backback?)

One thing I love about the new site is that we can actually showcase more than ever the work of the many people who make Bay Nature happen — people like Jules Evens or Joan Hamilton, who’ve done amazing work for Bay Nature over the years. And new friends like Corinne DeBra, who is walking the entire Bay Trail, for the second time. We’ll have some of her hikes on the Trailfinder soon.

And I can’t close without a shoutout to our developers at Identified Media, Kemper Barkhurst and James Kassemi, two masters of WordPress and MongoDB and lots of other things (ping me in the comments if you want to geek out about the five APIs that help make all this work!), and our friends at TransitandTrails.org — Ryan Branciforte and Jereme Monteau — and Ken-ichi Ueda at iNaturalist.org. And the S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, for funding this effort, and Clif Bar & Company, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Regional Parks Foundation for coming on as charter sponsors.

We’ll be expanding our online content to fit our new home, and making more improvements to the site as well—including a mobile-friendly version in the coming months.

So, welcome to the new BayNature.org. Get your nature news. Leave your comments (down there at the bottom of most every page). Find some new favorite trails. And then let us know about it!

Thanks for visiting.

—Dan Rademacher, Editorial Director

About the Author

Dan was editor of Bay Nature from 2004 until 2013, when he left to work for SF-based Stamen Design. He is now executive director of GreenInfo Network, a nonprofit mapmaking organization. A onetime professional cabinetmaker, he considers himself a lifelong maker of things and teller of stories. Dan has been working at the intersection of journalism and technology since, at age 16, he began learning reporting, page layout, and database design. His enduring interest in environmental issues crystallized into a career path in 1998 when he assisted former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in a cross-disciplinary nature writing and ecology course at UC Berkeley, from which Dan received a Masters in English literature. In 1999, he became Associate Editor of Terrain, the erstwhile quarterly magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center. In addition to editing and art-directing Bay Nature magazine, he was also Bay Nature’s chief technology strategist, fixer of broken things, and designer of databases and fancy spreadsheets. And he was even known to leave the office and actually hike outdoors.