Bay Nature magazineWinter 2010

Urban Nature

Public Transit and Other Endangered Species

January 1, 2010

UPDATE Jan 10, 2011: The buses are rolling! Check it out.

Artist Todd Gilens seeks to turn a ubiquitous distraction of city life–advertising on buses–into something much more: mobile street art that gives voice simultaneously to people and to wildlife. The idea is so simple: buses transformed into migrating calling cards for imperiled local species like the salt marsh harvest mouse or brown pelican.

Butterflies fluttering up Van Ness, salmon swimming down Sansome, snakes stopping in the Presidio–all of these represent a chance to acknowledge the habitats that were here not so long ago and the species that still hang on at the margins of our metropolis.

Transit and good city planning are part of the solution to habitat loss, and the buses will display a web link to more information. But that’s not the only point. “We’re so used to being assaulted by advertising,” says Gilens, “that it’s rare just to enjoy something. When you see these images along with everything else on the street, your senses are heightened, and from there you might start to ask, ‘How can our environment be more lively, more nourishing, more humane'”

Gilens hopes to get his project rolling in 2010. Learn more, or contribute, here.

–Dan Rademacher, Bay Nature editorial director


A Butterfly Bus
Mission blue butterfly, Thomas Wang/


Harvest Mouse Bus
Salt marsh harvest mouse, B. Moose Peterson/WRP.


SF Garter Snake Bus
San Francisco garter snake, John Sullivan/Ribbit Photography.
About the Author

Todd Gilens is a San Francisco-based artist. Dan Rademacher is Bay Nature's editorial director. 

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