San Diego Children and Nature Schoolyard Habitat Workshops
There are many facets to the Children and Nature Movement, from natural playgrounds to family nature clubs, each having the goal of connecting children to the natural world. As many landscape architects have recognized, design is a key component to bringing nature into the everyday lives of children. What better place to do this than in the place our children spend most of their waking hours…the schoolyard!
Since its inception in 2009, San Diego Children and Nature (SDCaN) has offered professional learning opportunities to teachers, parents, administrators, and designers on the why’s and how-to’s for integrating nature into schoolyards. Thanks to a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), SDCaN, San Diego Master Gardeners, and Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting partnered to host four training workshops in 2015 on Creating Schoolyard Habitats for Play and Learning. The 100+ attendees learned how to design and utilize schoolyard wildlife habitats.
Here are a few highlights from the responses so far:
What aspects of housing and community design interest you most?
Urban outdoor space relative to housing of different densities and types. The use of shared open space and community gathering areas to unify mixed income, mixed housing type communities.
Redesign of streetscapes, open areas & mixed use corridors in the urban core & inner ring suburbs. Re-use of historic warehouses and buildings for housing or mixed use. Infill that blends with the existing historic fabric of a neighborhood or corridor. Incorporating wildlife habitat plantings.
How to connect with clients and form ideas for designs.
Innovations that affect behavior, ecology and affordability.
This past Friday, September 18, you may have noticed a few new inhabitants taking over parking spaces all across the country. Instead of cars, you might have seen pop-up sitting areas, outdoor reading rooms, play spaces, picnic areas, or any number of alternate uses—all for PARK(ing) Day 2015.
Taking place the third Friday in September since 2005, PARK(ing) Day began with a single parking space re-imagined as a temporary public place by the San Francisco art and design studio Rebar. For more on PARK(ing) Day’s origins and story, check out Rebar’s PARK(ing) Day Manual and Manifesto.
Creators of parklets this year included many chapters of ASLA, students, landscape architecture and design firms, small businesses, nonprofits, and many more—see ASLA’s PARK(ing) Day map for a sense of the geographic breadth and organizational scope of this year’s parklets.
Below, we take a look at more than a dozen PARK(ing) Day spaces around Washington, DC. From inviting sitting areas to mini-golf, these spaces highlight the potential a single parking space holds to host a plethora of different functions.
The third week in June is home to National Pollinator Week, a week that the U.S. Federal Government and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) officially set aside in 2006 to steer our focus toward the plight pollinators are facing. It’s estimated that a quarter of all invertebrates are pollinators and in the past 35 years, invertebrate populations have decreased by about 45%, while the human population has doubled (University College of London, 2014). In earth time, 35 years is about as long as it takes for a person to blink. If this much diversity can be lost that fast, our actions must also be as swift. Fortunately this year, all hands were on deck, from local parks departments all the way up to the President of the United States. But what was accomplished? And…is it enough?
Monarch populations are at a mere 10% of what they were just 20 years ago (Center for Biological Diversity, 2014) and domesticated honey bee stocks have decreased 58% in 58 years (National Research Council, 2007). In response, POTUS announced the release of an unprecedented action plan to call national attention to the population devastations happening to wild and managed pollinators. The White House Pollinator Research Action Plan outlines issues pollinators are facing and highlights priority actions for a cornucopia of public and private groups. This is the first administration to actively address the issue of pollinator decline to the public and that is a huge step. It is also following through with its promises of creating databases of more accessible information.
But the problem is the document is filled with words like “identify,” “understand,” “determine,” and “research.” The key word lacking here is “do.” How can this be called an action plan when it is missing key action words? Even when action is mentioned, some of the measures have existed for years already. These are not necessarily new advances to protect pollinators, but rather are a distraction from our relatively unbridled pesticide use and the paucity of suitable habitat as a result. I can’t say I am surprised though. When 25% of the global agrochemical market is neonicotinoids, you are bound to run into some red tape (National Resource Defense Council, 2014). Luckily, there are groups spreading the message to put pressure on the government to make big changes…and fast.
The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN)’s focus for 2015 is an interview series developed around being women landscape architects, life/work balance, and mentors. The WILA PPN leadership team developed 17 interview questions, and then found willing landscape architects to participate in the interview process. The following is an in-depth look at responses to the fourth group of interview questions, focusing on how respondents felt their responsibilities outside of work governed their choices and how their work places reacted or set the stage for support.
Nearly everyone has responsibilities outside of work that stress our life/work balance. How have you dealt with the specific life/work tensions in your career?
Though none of the questions specifically asked for respondents’ responsibilities outside of work, i.e. children, spousal needs, extended family, etc., between one-third and half of respondents mention children in their answers. Most also referred to spouses, and one to the care of parents. There was clearly a variety of familial backgrounds, but some common threads.
Play is a primary occupation of childhood and an important contributor to healthy development. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights acknowledges play as being the right of every child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children play or exercise outside for 30-60 minutes a day.  Despite this recommendation, a study of nearly 9,000 preschool children found that almost half of them don’t go outside even once per day. 
Outdoor play encourages physical movement and social and emotional interactions. It fosters thinking and creativity. The quality of outdoor play activities depend upon children being able to experience and to be in an environment that is safe, inclusive, engaging, fun, spontaneous, and arouses curiosity and creativity. When children play outside they can learn to enjoy their own company, take turns and listen to the perspective of others, create and follow and break rules, understand the consequences of their actions, take risks, learn, role play, challenge themselves, problem solve, move, and have fun. Arguably, what happens in outdoor play and exploration is equally as important as classroom learning. To deprive any child of opportunities to be outside and in nature is simply wrong.
Show us who you are! We invite you to participate:
Send us a proposal for a short talk about an issue concerning you for the Landscape Architecture and Transportation PPN meeting. Presentations can be about anything related to transportation, from complete streets and multi-modal transportation planning to green streets, erosion control, and ecological restoration. Submit a title, short summary paragraph, and brief outline for your slides (one to two words per slide) to Ellen Barth Alster at email@example.com. Proposals are due by October 1, 2015.
Send us 1-3 images about yourself and the work you do. Everyone attending the Annual Meeting has a voice that should be heard and we want to know more about you, our fellow PPN members. The images can be about anything: your favorite place, your daily commute, or your most frustrating transportation design challenge. Please send images (as JPEG files) by October 30, 2015 to the LAT PPN leadership team.
The Landscape Architecture and Transportation PPN meeting will take place on Saturday, November 7 at 9:15 AM. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!
Hyejung Chang is Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Clemson University. She received a PhD in Design from North Carolina State University after completing an MLA at the University of Minnesota and a BSLA at the University of Seoul in South Korea. Hyejung has practiced in the US and South Korea. She is interested in landscape aesthetics and ethics as shared values to promote healthy communities and human well-being. We are happy to have Hyejung write the following article highlighting the importance for environmental justice.
– Julie Stevens, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
Justice forms an ideal of a democratic society, yet it becomes harder for designers to address in a contemporary environmental context. I propose an ethical framework with four guiding forces that are mutually supporting in theory, yet often confusing in practice: Democracy, Participation, Public Value, and Moral Obligation. The framework should help landscape architects be more decisive and effective in achieving justice through their work.
The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN)’s focus for 2015 is an interview series developed around being women landscape architects, life/work balance, and mentors. The WILA PPN leadership team developed 17 interview questions, and then found willing landscape architects to participate in the interview process. The following is an in-depth look at responses to the third group of interview questions, asking how respondents felt their gender influenced challenges in their work and/or informed their design work.
Many of our respondents indicated that they had experienced issues with being heard on the job (both at the construction site and in the conference room). Most respond to this challenge by making sure they had their own voice and standing up for their ideas. Several also indicated that they did not feel that gender played a role in their design work, attributing any influences in design (either approach or aesthetic) to personality instead. On the other hand, quite a few mentioned that a focus on collaboration and consensus building in their work was directly related to gender.
Each person’s experience is highly personal, but in sharing, discussing, and being open about our influences and experiences as a profession we become familiar with different ways of approaching similar situations in the future and ultimately push forward the best design for each project.