Running Wild

by Matt Boehner, ASLA

Runners at the starting line
The intensity of the starting line captured during the Gans Creek Classic. / image: John Kelly Photos, LLC

Running is one of the most popular and practiced sports worldwide. In the U.S. alone, more than 64 million people went jogging or running in 2016, representing a nearly 300% per capita increase since 1990. Relieving stress and having fun are among the top reasons Americans continue to run; however, within the growing trend are competitive races on and off road, with the passion for this starting at the youth level with the sport of cross country.

While cross country running is by no means a new individual or team sport, the planning trend for parks and recreation departments has been traditional active sports such as baseball/softball, basketball, and soccer facilities. Cross country courses historically were set up to run through parks or golf courses following simple mowed paths and painted lines, with no real infrastructure or permanence. Columbia Parks and Recreation (CPRD) and a unique partnership with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) and the University of Missouri Athletics (MU) aims to race to the front of the growing running trend of dedicated cross country courses with the development of a championship cross country course as a stand-alone park amenity that can host a variety of running events for all skill levels.

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SITES Successes: Celebrating “Firsts” from 2019

by Danielle Pieranunzi

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA / image: Green Business Certification, Inc.

In order to create a truly sustainable, resilient, equitable, and healthy society, we must address our outdoor spaces. Unlike conventional buildings, which play an immense role in impacting both our outdoor and indoor environments, healthy and functional landscapes appreciate in value over time, providing a multitude of benefits at various scales—from reducing urban heat island effects and cleaning stormwater runoff in cities to improving the mental and physical health of those who interact with these spaces.

While every building has a site, not every site has a building, and the SITES program fills a necessary and important gap in elevating the importance of landscapes and sustainable site development.

This is why it’s so exciting to see the ways that the market is growing for SITES. Within the past year alone, we saw new project types, new countries implementing the rating system, and stronger commitments to sustainability with Platinum-level certification. To keep up with market demand, we also began formally offering precertification, which can help projects attract community supporters, funders, and can even expedite permitting in some localities.

The SITES program celebrated many “firsts” in the past year, and it is through projects’ leadership that we continue to see demand and ingenuity move the market for sustainable outdoor spaces forward.

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The 2020 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

The Smokey Hollow Community
The Smokey Hollow Community, HALS FL-9-4, Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For the 11th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document vanishing or lost landscapes. Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect and climate change.

By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, you may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past. People from every state are hereby challenged to focus their 2020 vision to complete at least one HALS short format history to document vanishing or lost landscapes.

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2020. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the National Park Service’s HALS website.

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2019 ASLA Conference Education Session Recordings

The opening general session of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture
In her opening general session, Gina McCarthy declared, “We need landscape architects to design a world that is healthy, safe, and beautiful — and more just. Landscape architecture can kindle hope in all of us.” / image: EPNAC

More than 40 education sessions recorded during the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego are now available through ASLA Online Learning. The recorded sessions’ topics range from climate action and metrics for assessing public space designs to innovative business practices and risk management.

ASLA Online Learning offers both live online presentations throughout the year and more than 200 recordings for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH). Log in using your ASLA username and password for member discounts and access to free PDH, for ASLA members only.

Free for ASLA Members: The 2019 General Sessions

Gina McCarthy, President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, brought down the house during her 2019 keynote speech when she declared landscape architecture THE profession to solve the climate crisis. ASLA members now have exclusive access to the recording of the opening general session, From Climate Change to Climate Action: Building a Clean, Healthy, Sustainable Future, free-of-charge via ASLA Online Learning (1.0 PDH LA CES/non-HSW).

The blockbuster closing general session, No Time to Waste: Landscape Architecture and the Global Challenge of Climate Change, presented by Kongjian Yu, FASLA, Kotchakorn Voraakhom, ASLA, and Hitesh Mehta, FASLA, and moderated by Andrew Revkin, is also available to all ASLA members free-of-charge, offering 1.0 PDH LA CES/non-HSW.

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Green Schoolyards: An Interview with Sharon Danks, Part 2

by Lauren Iversen, Student ASLA

Hoover Elementary School students in their school's garden
Students at Hoover Elementary School in Oakland, California search for interesting insects to study in their beautiful half-acre garden. / image: Paige Green, © Green Schoolyards America

Green Schoolyards: Our Cities’ Opportunities to Create Thriving Public Land Where Children and their Communities Benefit

Welcome back to the second part of Lauren Iversen’s interview with Sharon Danks, Founder and CEO of Green Schoolyards America. For the first part of this conversation, please see last week’s post.

How do you see play fitting in? I’m really interested in how play affects children’s mental and physical development. How do you see things like nature play fitting into the schoolyards?

I think it’s important that our schoolyards encourage all types of play: gross and fine motor, pretend play, social play, and nature play—particularly for preschool through elementary school. We need to be developing environments that interest children, as they play in the same place year after year, as their needs expand, and interests change.

Adding trees, shrubs, and other plants to a schoolyard—and designing them in ways that invite interaction—is important. Plants in a green schoolyard should not just be there to add to curb appeal for adults but should be designed first and foremost to facilitate child development and children’s happiness.

What do children like to do in natural settings? They generally enjoy crawling into bushes to make forts and dens. They like to climb trees. They enjoy picking flowers and collecting pine cones and acorns. They enjoy using different plant parts in their games as the seasons change—picking flowers in the spring, collecting seeds or nuts when they fall, and gathering brightly colored autumn leaves.

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Showcase Your Work: Enter the ASLA Professional and Student Awards

ASLA 2019 Professional Honor Award in Residential Design. Hassalo on Eighth | From Urban Blight to LEED Platinum Neighborhood. PLACE. / image: Christian Columbres

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is accepting entries for the 2020 Professional and Student Awards. This prestigious juried landscape architecture competition honors the best and most innovative landscape architecture projects from around the globe and gives a glimpse into the future of the profession.

ASLA Professional Awards Key Dates & Deadlines:

ASLA Student Awards:

  • Monday, May 4, 11:59 p.m. PST: entry fees for the Student Awards are due
  • Monday, May 11, 11:59 p.m. PST: submissions for the Student Awards are due

This year, a new award category, Urban Design, will recognize projects that activate networks of spaces that mediate between social equity, economic viability, infrastructure, environmental stewardship, and place-making in the public and private realm.

Winners receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine, and in many other design and construction industry and general interest media. ASLA will honor the award recipients, their clients, and advisors at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami Beach, October 2-5, 2020.

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Green Schoolyards: An Interview with Sharon Danks, Part 1

by Lauren Iversen, Student ASLA

Children playing, green schoolyard, Golestan School
Children play exuberantly in the vibrant green schoolyard at Golestan School in the San Francisco Bay Area. / image: Paige Green, © Green Schoolyards America

Green Schoolyards: Our Cities’ Opportunities to Create Thriving Public Land Where Children and their Communities Benefit

We are delighted to share Lauren’s interview with Sharon Danks, who talks about her vitally important work with greening schoolyards. This is a topic that is applicable to anyone who cares for and about children!
– Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director

Interview with Sharon Danks, Founder and CEO of Green Schoolyards America, by
Lauren Iversen, Student ASLA, graduate student in Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington

Sharon, please tell me what Green Schoolyards America is and works towards.

Green Schoolyards America is a non-profit organization, based in Berkeley, California. We focus on transforming asphalt-covered school grounds into park-like green spaces that improve children’s well-being, learning, and play while contributing to the ecological health and resilience of our cities. We are working to change the norm for school ground design, use, and management so that all children will have access to the natural world on a daily basis, right outside their classroom door.

School districts are one of the biggest land managers in the country, and yet they often don’t see land management as their role. As a result, school grounds are often unusually barren places from an ecological perspective, particularly in our cities. Sadly, we’re putting millions of children—some of our most vulnerable citizens—in these places without adequate protection from the elements or the mental and physical health benefits that the natural world affords. The most barren school grounds are typically also in places with the fewest resources, creating an extreme equity problem and shocking level of disparity.

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Urban Forestry & Quality of Life

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Boone’s Ferry Road streetscape in Wilsonville, Oregon
image: MacKay Sposito Engineering

Ever wonder what our urban streets and avenues would be without street trees or other urban forestry components? Have you ever pulled into that shopping center from yesteryear only to find not a tree, planting island, or bit of shade in sight? How did that wall-to-wall paved impervious area make you feel? Can cities and urban infrastructure even exist and provide an ample quality of life without urban forestry?

Urban forestry is essential to our built environment and population centers and is defined by Wikipedia as the “care and management of single trees and tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving the urban environment.”

Healthy streetscapes and efforts to employ urban forestry techniques have a number of positive effects cities could likely not live without. Street trees help curb the urban heat island effect and can be effective in carbon sequestering in urban areas where carbon footprints tend to peak. They also provide much needed shade that improves not only the pedestrian experience, but also keeps your car cooler on a 90 degree day and helps businesses reduce energy use through less air conditioning. Street trees often increase property values, aid in stormwater management, and as an added benefit, attract tourism, businesses, and economic investment.

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