Long Now Boston City Nature Celebration 02020: Observing the Urban Environment

April was Global Citizen Science month. To celebrate, people around the world took part in various citizen projects, from observing the night sky to measuring rainfall. Long Now Boston joined in by participating in the City Nature Challenge. The City Nature Challenge was founded and is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. It is an international celebration of biodiversity observed and documented in and around urban areas. 

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City Nature Celebration 02020

City Nature Celebration 02020: Observing the Urban Environment

April is Global Citizen Science month. People around the world are participating in various citizen projects, from making sourdough bread to observing the night sky. Please join Long Now Boston in celebrating citizen science, from home, by taking part in the City Nature Celebration 2020 for the Greater Boston Area.

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City Nature Celebration 02020 Frequently Asked Questions

City Nature Celebration 02020: Frequently Asked Questions

Tell me more about City Nature Celebration!

This is a global citizen science event, formerly called ‘City Nature Challenge’, that involves the observation and documentation of biological organisms in the city, stressing the importance of biodiversity in urban environments. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, City Nature Challenge chose to be called ‘City Nature Celebration’ and focus on using nature for relief from a difficult time. CNC encourages  people to go outside and make observations of the wildlife they see in their backyards and neighborhoods, while practicing safe social distancing. Participants upload their observations, as photographic documentation, during the specified time frame (April 24-27) and all observations, if identifiable, are included for the region in which they were taken. Our region is the Greater Boston Area. You learn even more at their website: https://citynaturechallenge.org/

Can I participate and still practice social distancing?

Absolutely! Participating from home in a citizen science project is a welcome respite from the isolation we may be feeling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Keeping track of things, specifically things in nature, may help mitigate any negative feelings. We can join together as a community to document biodiversity, even as we stay apart.

CNC offers the following statement: “In Boston, we encourage documentation of nature in our homes, backyards, and neighborhoods, individually and with our families; and participation online by helping to identify or annotate observations. Together we’ll be making and sharing observations as a global community, celebrating the healing power of nature, documenting our local nature as best we can. Together, we will work with people in cities around the world to celebrate the biodiversity around us – wherever we might be! The CNC is something in which everyone can still participate, even while following all federal & local regulations to keep our communities safe. You can read more CNC Covid-19 FAQs at https://citynaturechallenge.org.”

What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. This social network community consists over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help us learn more about the natural world. This is done through photo documentation and subsequent identification of all types of living, wild species. Built on the concept of mapping, sharing observations, and sharing data of biodiversity around the world, it is one of the most popular nature apps. By recording and sharing your observations, you will create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. You can learn more at https://www.inaturalist.org/.

Download the iNaturalist app from the App Store or Google Play onto your smartphone. You can also use the online version on your desktop.

What is citizen science?

Citizen science is a working effort between scientists and people in a community who are curious and motivated to contribute to a specific scientific endeavor. This public involvement is typically to aid in data collection, but can also be analysis or reporting. Citizen science projects involve one or more people who have shared interests and work toward a common goal.

Do I need a specific level of education to be a citizen scientist?

The short answer is ‘No!’ The great thing about citizen science is that, with the proper training, anyone can participate. Everyone who contributes to a project follows the same procedure. Results gathered through this type of “crowd-sourcing” helps researchers draw conclusions and share the data so that an even broader community has access. These large collaborations allow advancements toward discovery that individual research groups may not be able to achieve on their own.

How can I get more involved in citizen science throughout the year?

There are lots of organizations that provide opportunities to do citizen science, including those that can be done remotely. A great place to start is to visit SciStarter (https://scistarter.org). They offer a variety of projects and you are sure to find one that suits your interests. If you are looking for something local and inclined toward participating in biodiversity studies, a good resource is Earthwise Aware (EwA). Learn about their activities at https://www.earthwiseaware.org.

Snow Cancellation Policy

Snow Cancellation Policy

  • Long Now Boston events follow MIT’s snow cancellation policy. Their snow cancellations are listed at https://emergency.mit.edu, and MIT keeps a “SNOW line” at 617-253-7669.
  • We may also need to cancel if the presenter can’t make it to the venue.
  • We strive to announce event cancellations by 3 hours before the event.
  • In the event of sudden storms we will announce cancellations as soon as possible.
  • In the event of a cancellation, all paid tickets will be refunded.
  • Cancellations will be shown on the Long Now Boston website in a banner on the home page, and an email will be sent to all attendees via Meetup and Eventbrite as well as social media channels.

Long-term Loonshots: The Science of Phase Transitions and the Course of World History

Sept. 9, 02019: Long-term Loonshots: The Science of Phase Transitions and the Course of World History

A Long Now Boston Conversation with Safi Bahcall, Author of Loonshots (02019).

See the post-event Summary here.

Monday, September 9, 02019: 7PM at the CIC Venture Café — Doors open @ 6pm — Come early and meet other Long Now thinkers

Why did modern science ignite in 17th -century Western Europe when China, Islam, and India had been so much more advanced for 1,000 years? How does understanding the behavior we see in a glass of water help us understand the fate of companies and empires? How can we use these insights to help our institutions shape the next 1,000 or 10,000 years? 

Safi Bahcall is the author of the 2019 NYT Bestseller — Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries


Cambridge Innovation Center is an in-kind sponsor of this Long Now Boston conversation. We are very grateful for their support.

Innovations to Eradicate Global Poverty

Long Now Boston Conversation Series

June 3, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Featuring Eleanor Murphy (Acumen) and Katherine Collins (Putnam, Honeybee Capital)

Synopsis:  Some 12,000 years ago, people began cultivating their own food, providing a far more reliable source than nature alone, leading to settled communities and, ultimately, a global civilization. The technologies and capacities for feeding human communities have improved through the millennia, bringing huge benefits to growing populations.  Yet poverty and hunger still afflicts much of the world — a tragedy that we can eliminate within decades if we empower communities, through enlightened investment, technology and market solutions, to achieve their own aspirations.

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Long Now Boston FLASH TALKS – Contest Invitation

Calling all members!  We would like to hear from you! 

Do you have an idea, a technology, an image, a story or an artistic expression that provides insight of long-term significance to our region or to our world?  Would you like to discuss it with members of the Long Now Boston community?


On May 6, 02019, Long Now Boston will be hosting an inaugural FLASH TALK FOR MEMBERS, starting at 7PM at the CIC Venture Café in Kendall Square.  The event will be FREE and open to the public. 

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Robotic Futures: Reading Minds & Mastering Gentle Touch (4/1/02019)

Robotic Futures: Reading Minds & Mastering Gentle Touch

April 1, 02019. Doors open @ 6pm — Come early and meet other Long Now thinkers — Presentation starts @ 7pm. 

See the post-event summary: Robotic Futures – A Cyborg Vision.

A Long Now Boston Community Conversation with Bruce Blumberg, Principal UX Engineer at Universal Robots.

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