Phipps Conservatory Presents Virtual Nature of Place Symposium: Wild Childhood

Pittsburgh, PA – On April 5 – 7, leaders from across disciplines will join together for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ second annual — and first virtual — Nature of Place Symposium. With a theme of Wild Childhood, speakers and attendees will discuss the deep importance of how children significantly benefit from time in nature, but also how some children are deprived of this experience due to a variety of factors such as racial injustice and disability exclusion.

The Nature of Place Symposium centers on the implications of biophilia — the innate human connection to nature — which extend across a vast array of disciplines including design and engineering, nutrition, psychology, public health, education, biology and the humanities. Biophilia is expressed all over the world every day, through complex collaborations such as the design and construction of buildings and landscapes; and intimate, personal encounters including nature hikes and home gardening. Since 2014, Phipps has held a monthly Biophilia: Pittsburgh gathering to bring creative minds together for learning, exploring and strengthening the bonds between people and the natural world. At Phipps’ first Nature of Place Symposium in February 2020, these concepts found a new expression as leaders across disciplines came together to discuss the influence and impact of biophilia on their work and the work of the future.

Each day of the symposium will include three pre-recorded talks, one live daily keynote speaker, and a panel discussion with the keynote and the other three speakers. The pre-recorded talks will all be available to registrants one week before the symposium begins to allow for flexible viewing. A full list of speakers will be added to Phipps’ website soon. Stay tuned to for details. Symposium sessions include:

Session 1: The Physical and Cognitive Value of Time in Nature
This session will discuss the developmental, cognitive and physical benefits of children spending time in nature.

Session 2: Equitable Access to Greenspace — Changing the Outdoor Culture
Although time in nature is beneficial to children, not all children have equitable access to greenspace due to such factors as racism and facilities that are not inclusive of different abilities. This session will explore the existing social, cultural and physical barriers to access to nature and discuss the needed changes.

Session 3: Equitable Access to Greenspace — Changing the Cities
Access to nature can be greatly improved by city infrastructure and planning, such as regulations to add more trees or minimize the distance to parks and green spaces. This session will explore the important role city planning can play in helping to ensure equitable access to nature.

Keynote speakers are educator Kimberly Refosco and Ariam Ford of Grounded Strategies. Session speakers include:

  • Dr. Viniece Jennings, Agnes Scott College
  • Trevanna Grenfell, Wildwood Path
  • Eboni Preston, Greening Youth Foundation
  • Britt Patterson Weber, Naples Botanical Garden
  • Gabe Tilove, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
  • Ujijji Davis Williams, Landscape Architect at SmithGroup

General registration for Nature of Place Symposium: Wild Childhood is $49 and student registration is $15. For more information, visit