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Corona, connecting with nature and Coursera

I am going to change the format of this blog a little and instead of posting only finished projects I will reuse the same method I did with my travel blog few years back – I will talk about what I do on ongoing bases and include the projects as part of the weekly/twice a month posts ( depending how I’m getting on with this time wise and if there’s anyone interested reading it every week) : )

There’s not much new to say about Corona as it’s hit us here in Estonia just as anywhere else. The country went to lock-down as precaution and everything pretty much shut down this week. We’ll see what the long term effects of this will be, but right now the supermarkets are still well stocked (as my Friday shopping trip confirmed) and panic buying does not have such a big impact here (yet).

Things for me were quiet even before the global pandemic and apart of one map project there’s nothing happening right now. The great news is this means I can go for the walks also inside the week and not only on the weekends. Avoiding public transport and not owning a car means I have to discover my local neighbourhood which at first seemed dispiriting, but turned out to be lot better than I expected!

So for three days this week I’ve explored the walks around Pirita river valley – one of the biggest nature reserves in this area. I’ve often walked on the Pirita beach, but I haven’t been in the river valley for years and I didn’t realise how close they are linked. This week I was able to connect the two tracks and discover a new long distance walk that passes some of the most beautiful scenery in the city.

The Pirita forest is a dense urban forest of dominantly beach pine and the river winds through it, offering stunning views on every turn – on one side of high white sand banks and on other of reed beds and abundant wild fowl. It’s amazing to see the nature thriving in the middle of the city, so close to urban development. This is also an active leisure area and yet it remains very calm and spacious.

Calm views across the river towards sand banks and pine forest

As much as I’m loving my social isolation walks it’s also certain things won’t stay this quiet forever. So for the last few weeks I’ve also been taking an online course at Coursera to see if this will bring in some new ideas and ideally new work. I’m taking the UX design fundamentals by Cal Arts and I really enjoy it and can highly recommend it to anyone interested to know more of UX.

My final self-chosen course project is an app prototype for planning greener and healthier journeys and the core idea is to offer alternative route suggestions based on air quality, noise levels, urban greenery and activity count. So this is what I am working on right now and fingers crossed this could also evolve to a real world project.

Anyone out there interested in building or funding it? : )