Ken Leinbach – Book Journeys Author Interview – July 6, 2017
On this episode of Book Journeys, Maggie McReynolds, interviews Ken Leinbach, author of Urban Ecology: A Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities and the World.
Ken is the executive director of the Urban Ecology Center, which is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a nonprofit organization whose ultimate focus is “to get kids outside,” and some of the ways in which the Center has impacted the community it is in is reduction in crime, revitalized parks and academic performance increased. This has attracted the attention of people around the world (such as those in the city of Tiberias, in Israel) who are interested in learning how the Urban Ecology Center achieved this, so they could apply such programs and lessons to their own communities.
Unlike other authors who start out writing one book and end up writing another, Ken knew that the book he would write, when he joined the Author Incubator program, would be about the Urban Ecology Center. Ken had already had the idea to write the book for a few years, during which time he was doing research on how to do just that, so when he came across the Author Incubator program he jumped at the opportunity. Ken noted that he then felt the pressure of deadlines and for the need to finish the book because of all the people who were supporting him, not only at the Ecology Center but also at the Author Incubator. Writing a book of this length was a totally new experience for Ken, and he remarked that following the process laid out by the Author Incubator enabled him to succeed. Ken remarked that the Author Incubator’s concept of a book being a love letter to a particular individual was particularly powerful.
Ken took a sabbatical from his work to take the time out to write the book, becoming an artist-in-residence at the Conserve School in northern Wisconsin, where he stayed in a cabin by a lake and worked with the high school students at the School. To make things fun for himself, and to avoid falling into the trap of being distracted by nature, as he liked the outdoors, Ken developed a system where he created four different writing stations, located around a quarter of a mile apart. He would then ride his bicycle from one station to the next, spending one and a half hours at each station writing.
Ken remarked that getting advanced quotes was interesting, as he managed to get these from such individuals as Jane Goodall and Ken Salazar, who was the US Secretary of the Interior during the administration of former President Obama. The book launch was another powerful experience for Ken, particularly since the book jumped to bestseller status in four categories and six different countries. Ken noted that Urban Ecology is presently being used in different ways, with CEO’s using it as a leadership reference and professors using it as a textbook in community development subjects. To would-be authors, Ken recommends reading the Difference Press books related to writing, which is only part of the entire process, the latter being something that all authors should keep in mind.
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