Executive Director, Center for Urban Ecology, Butler University
In the three years since Timothy Carter became Butler University’s first director of its Center for Urban Ecology, he’s been busy defining the center’s vision, setting goals and building relationships within the campus as well as the Indianapolis community.
In that time, he has established the Butler Campus Farm, which provides chemical-free produce to the campus community, area restaurants and Second Helpings. The farm now has a manager and student interns.
“We like to think about how the center’s work is relevant,” said Carter. Showing people that they can grow healthy food in an urban setting is part of that mission.
While the center may have started as a way for faculty and students to study ecology, it has become a participant in helping to improve the city’s environment.
“A lot of what I’ve been working on is, how can we make this place we call a city a place where humans and nonhumans can coexist in a way that allows both of them to flourish,” said Carter, who came here from the University of Georgia, where he earned his Ph.D. in ecology.
To do that, he and the center have become involved in several grassroots initiatives, such as Reconnecting to Our Waterways, Growing Places Indy and The DaVinci Pursuit, which encourages collaboration between scientists and artists.
One of the center’s long-range goals is to become a national leader in urban ecology practices and serve as a model for other cities.
A native of Pennsylvania, Carter had never been to the Midwest when he came to Butler.
“The city was open to the sorts of ideas and projects we were looking to do,” he said. “It was just a great fit for us.”
“Us” is Carter and his wife, Katy, and their three children ages 9, 6 and 4. At home, he keeps chickens, makes and sells hats, and roasts his own coffee beans, an outdoor process involving an old popcorn popper.
“Once you’ve had fresh roasted coffee, you can’t go back,” he said. “That’s the curse.”•