Hello! My name is Jennifer Lenhart and I am a programme manager at Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Sweden, addressing WWF’s global efforts to support sustainable urban development, namely via its One Planet Cities programme.
Having recently moved to Stockholm, I’m keen to explore the city the best way I know how: testing out its cycling infrastructure and public transport. I’m well versed on the benefits of the bicycle lifestyle, having spent the last 5 years in Amsterdam as a PhD researcher examining cities’ climate change strategies. My PhD (completed July 2015) concentrated on urban climate policy and planning; however I am equally interested in how policies roll out, influencing a city’s businesses or residents. As an urban citizen, my choices to live a sustainable lifestyle are determined in part by my own actions, and in part by what is available. Amsterdam inspired my blog and remains my blogging muse, offering the opportunity to explore and observe all of the inspiring (often hilarious) things one can encounter cycling the city.
Before Stockholm and Amsterdam, I have lived, studied or worked in countless U.S. cities (e.g. Seattle, Honolulu and Boston); in Swedish cities (e.g. Uppsala, Malmö and Lund), as well as Budapest, Hungary; Khon Kaen, Thailand; Les Cayes, Haiti; and Nairobi, Kenya – in context to studies or work pertaining to international development, environmental policy and urban governance. These cities vary greatly, in terms of climate, culture and socioeconomic situation, but there are common lessons to learn. Urban living can constitute a lower impact on the surrounding natural environment, if sprawl is impeded by compact and mixed-use design. With the right policies and infrastructure, as well as the right dose of creativity and empowerment, cities can manifest high quality (and sustainable) urban living: green spaces, thriving and mixed economic activities, entertainment or a random encounter.
This blog is dedicated to the cities I have lived, visited or derive inspiration from – notably a city’s quest for sustainability and quality of life. At times this requires active research or exploration, to dig deep and understand how or why a particular strategy is effective. Other times simple and unexpected observations (with a camera close at hand) are enough to capture something unexpected. I will focus on the latter: to discover how ‘the city’ lives, breathes and addresses the nuances of urban life. My hope in doing so is to start a collection of good ideas or funny encounters that may be helpful or humorous to other urban actors, highlighting ways we can learn from each other.
As a disclaimer: all photos in this blog are taken by the author, unless otherwise specified. I am happy to share them, but please send me an email first or cite them accordingly. 🙂
- Featured on The Guardian’s “The best city blogs around the world – an interactive guide” and permanently hosted on the new Guardian Cities website.
- Featured on Sustainable Seattle’s website & blog: “Sustainable Cities Around the World: The Urban Observer“
27 thoughts on “About”
Hey! Totally love your blog my friend. I can’t believe how long it has been since I last saw you, but now I feel like we’ve caught up a little bit. Hope all is well!
Thanks Debbie! I also really enjoy your blog & reading about your adventures! And loved your wedding photos on fb! You guys are as lovely as ever! Hope you are enjoying life, and if you are passing through Amsterdam… let me know!
This is awesome!
Sweet blog! Wanna go for a walk/explore round amsterdam some time? If so, send me an email — available in the about section of my blog! Enjoy the spring time!
Are you also based in Amsterdam then? 🙂
Ya! Til June at least. Would be great to explore with you!
Sure! I’m off to Bali Friday for a meeting on East Asian cities and sustainable transport; then back a few weeks and off to Reykjavik for a PhD course on climate adaptation… anyway though… sure we can find a time! Would love to hear your impressions of the city & other interesting initiatives you have been involved in!
I am living in Amsterdam for a few months and am hoping to meet up with some of the urban farm work going on! Thank you for the helpful links and insights. I would love any connections or advice! firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Lydia, sorry… I just saw your message! I will respond to you via email! (I was avoiding my blog for a while, trying to catch up with work deadlines!)
Hi, I am from Brazil and I am very interested in urban farms in Amsterdam too! Could you send me something via e-mail? If you are not very busy, my e-mail account is email@example.com
Hi! Thanks for the comment. I will do so indeed. Unfortunately, now is a bit of a busy time – just finishing the PhD. Perhaps contact me in a month about this? I also have a Master student writing on the topic and his thesis should be finished by that time. Best of luck before!
I want to send you a magazine that I am publishing erarly in February that may interest you. Can you let me know where I can send it?
Thanks, Stephen Hodes
Sounds interesting. What is the magazine about? I’m curious.
Best regards from Amsterdam,
The magazine is called Amsterdam, Anticipating the Future / Amsterdam, Inspelen op de Toekomst. It is about ‘drukte in de stad/congestion’ and the balance in the city between inhabitants and international visitors (tourism).
I love the topic of your PhD dissertation and all the work you are doing in general. It’s always a pleasure to meet a global citizen, especially one who shares similar passions. I hope we cross paths one day on our mission to build sustainable and fun cities!
Keep hugging trees,
Thank You! Indeed: similar passions and visions for sustainable, fun and fabulous cities! Let me know if you are ever in Amsterdam! It’s great!
I’ll let you know when I’m in town for sure!
Hi Jennifer! Wow, our educational interests really coincide. I was just accepted to begin my time as a MESPOMer for the 2016-18 batch; my top two choices were MESPOM at CEU or a Research Masters International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam. I’ve visited Amsterdam twice, and I love it! Before this application year, though, I actually applied to Wageningen University and was accepted, but had to turn it down due to financial reasons. My ultimate goal is to study in the Netherlands for my PhD, and it seems that you, quite literally, have done the exact trajectory that I am trying to do. I have not officially sent in my enrollment form to CEU yet, and I keep second-guessing myself whenever I officially decide on a program. I’m interested in the intersection of environmental policy, specifically energy resources, and gender equality in developing countries. CEU has a great “international” curriculum, and is quite focused on policy and economics, and also offered me a partial scholarship (which looks good on a resume, and is around$15-18,000 cheaper total (over the course of 2 years); but, UvA is a well-known school, it’s in the Netherlands (where I’d like to do my PhD), is focused on development studies and includes some policy/economics, and it’s research-based. As a past MESPOMer and Wageningen student, and current Amsterdammer, do you have any advice to offer based on personal experience? I’m leaning towards the CEU program because it’s cheaper, I received a scholarship, the international curriculum, and the ability to still do my PhD in the Netherlands, but I’m also worried that I’m making the wrong decision because UvA is technically the “better” school/program. I know this is a lot of information, but I would really appreciate your input! Cheers!
Hi Megan, small world indeed! In short, I would 100% recommend MESPOM. It was the most amazing experience of my life! A great programme and a very strong community. Met my best friends and mentors there. It has influenced every decision since… In fact I leave on Wednesday for the MESPOM/ CEU reunion in Budapest. Can’t wait! Over the years I’ve gotten to know many of the students and alumni of different graduating classes, and I’m always impressed. It’s like meeting old friends full of passion and direction – and fun! As for your hesitations, while CEU may be a small university, it is well regarded in its circles. Likewise, Lund and Manchester have very strong reputations internationally. Wageningen is also nice, but I was more of a city girl…I didn’t last long in the village. 😉 Happy to discuss further with you if you like, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Busy as you can imagine, but always happy to help!
I recently attended the Low Carbon City event in Medellin and I really enjoyed your presentation. I found the examples in your presentation very inspiring.
I specially remember the slide in which you talked about Szimpla Kert in Budapest, one of my favourite places there.
I hope that people in the event had the opportunity to take advantage of your experience and knowledge during the conference.
From now on I will be regular visitor of your blog ☺
Regards from Medellin
Wow Kevin! Thanks so much for this wonderful message and I don’t know how I missed it before!!! I really enjoyed my time in Medellin – what a fantastic city! And yes, Budapest (including Szimpla) are close to my heart. I spent a year there – in a MSc programme at Central European University. Such a fantastic place! In any case, thanks so much and SORRY for my delayed response! Please feel free to reach out again and let me know of any exciting things underway in Medellin or elsewhere! Best wishes from Stockholm!
I found your blog after seeing your presentation on Urban Climate Governance through a Coursera course on sustainable cities. I have been living in rural areas of the US for the past four years, and I often hear grumbles about how cities do not respect the natural environment. I was encouraged to hear your examples about how cities are incorporating sustainability into the daily lives of their citizens. I was particularly intrigued by your example of the Rotterdam Energy Approach and Planning. I am curious to know whether similar approaches can be used with regards to water resources (i.e. implementing green infrastructure to store water next to areas with many trees). I will keep on reading your blog to learn more about sustainability in cities!
Hi Laura! So nice to hear from you & thank you for your kind words. Indeed, the Rotterdam Energy Approach and Planning has since applied to similar resources streams (water, waste, etc.)
If you have access to academic resource journals, here is a link to the expanded study on REAP: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652615005727.
If you do not have acccess to academic journals, I can send it to you… (Currently on holiday; but please remind me in a few weeks otherwise.)
Best wishes before & thanks again!
Hi Jennifer! Thank you for the article link! I do indeed have academic journal access, so I was able to download the article. I will also search for other places with the Rotterdam approach. Happy holidaying!
Awesome! Be in touch later as need be! Best wishes (currently from Seattle!) 🙂
Thanks! I grew up near Seattle, so I hope you are enjoying the city in its summer mood! If you ever visit again, Washington Arboretum is a wonderful place to take a walk in the woods in the city 🙂
How fun! I’m from (West) Seattle! Indeed I love the city & its soul. And the Arboretum was a favourite of mine when I was a student at the University of Washington! Small world. 🙂