ICYMI: A Virtual Forum on the Future of Parks and Play

Social distancing circles in a park
Circles in a London park mark appropriate social distance. / image: Winniepix licensed under CC BY 2.0

On July 15, right in the middle of Park and Recreation Month, three of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—Children’s Outdoor Environments, Environmental Justice, and Parks & Recreation—collaborated to host an open dialogue on the future of parks and play.

ASLA members were invited to take part in this virtual forum as an opportunity to converse with peers about their observations and experiences, new developments being planned or currently underway, and what they are seeing locally in terms of park and play space usage or changes in use.

PPN leaders and members came together for small-group discussions within Zoom breakout rooms focused on what’s happening in parks and playspaces, and what landscape architects are hearing from clients and stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forum Facilitators:

  • Ilisa Goldman, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Ken Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer and past Co-Chair
  • Heidi Cohen, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Missy Benson, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Chad Kennedy, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments and past Co-Chair
  • Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Tom Martin, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer
  • Matt Boehner, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer

Four discussion topics and prompts were provided to spark discussion and input from attendees, who ranged from students to firm principals who came from across the U.S., along with a few based internationally. Below, we recap key points, recurring trends, and takeaways from the conversation.

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Getting Started with Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Teachers and students interacting
An effective strategy for participatory design is to go where children are, working with them alongside teachers and out-of-school program leaders as core partners. / image: Darcy Varney Kitching

We are honored to share the third of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one, Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, and part two, The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking, published here on The Field earlier this month). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

If you were to create a dream team to facilitate a placemaking process with children, who would be on this team, and why?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Start with a few enthusiastic people who represent different types of organizations. You need to have people who work with children and youth, such as teachers who want to do project-based learning, or education staff in nonprofit organizations. You will also want someone who can influence decisions. One or two people need to be willing to take charge of the project. For a small initial venture, they can be volunteers, but to sustain a culture of participatory practice, coordinators require funding.

In the Growing Up Boulder program that we have worked on together, a team typically includes schools or child- and youth-serving organizations, city planning and design staff, and university students. Specific partners vary depending on how a project lines up with organization aims and who will be impacted. We are fortunate to have committed city leadership, but in some cities, a nonprofit organization with a sustainability mission may be the critical catalyst and serve as facilitator. The single most important element of a “dream team” is that it reflects the community and pays close attention to people whose perspectives might otherwise not be heard.

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ASLA to Host Virtual Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN

Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA

Upcoming Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN Podcast
Monday, July 27, 2020 New date TBA

On July 27, ASLA will air the Everything but the Building podcast episode featuring the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN), interviewed by Stacey Brochtrup. Attendees will learn about the organization and then have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, BlackLAN Founder and President and first black landscape architect awarded the Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Everything but the Building is a podcast about the people, places, and history behind the profession of landscape architecture. It can be found on eight different platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher.

BlackLAN was established in 2012 as an online communications network. The network was established by Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, as Manager and Kofi Boone, ASLA, as Co-Manager. BlackLAN is an organization for landscape architects of African heritage in the United States and internationally. The goal of the network is to foster mentorship, facilitate black diaspora conversations, disseminate news items, and provide resources and other information. In addition to the online network, the BlackLAN is currently moving to an open-source website platform to expand the work and mission of the network. To learn more about this vital community of landscape architecture professionals or sign up to receive the BlackLAN newsletter, contact BlackLAN.

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The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

A third grade student exploring an outdoor space with peers
When third graders explored opportunities to redesign the Civic Area, they wanted to honor the wildlife that lived there. This boy signals to his peers, “Shh, don’t scare the ducks!” / image: Stephen Cardinale

We are honored to share the second of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one: Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, published last week). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

What are the advantages for everyone of including children on a design team?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Children bring a playfulness that lightens the work and energizes creativity. They literally see the world from different perspectives, given their different heights and their love of climbing and running over, around, and through the landscape. Children bring freedom from preconceived expectations. We find that children tend to think about all groups in their community—including other species! When the City of Boulder gathered input from all ages in preparation for redeveloping the downtown Civic Area, preschoolers and elementary school students were the voices for biodiversity. They wanted to make sure that changes would accommodate ducks, other birds, squirrels, and butterflies.

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Leveraging Community Voices for an Inclusive Future

by Alicia Adams, ASLA, and Lori Singleton, ASLA

Community engagement in Detroit
image: Alicia Adams and Lori Singleton

Shared Dialogue and Community-Driven Authorship in the Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan

“We Hope for Better Things”

Detroit’s history has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. As a burgeoning auto industry attracted workers at the turn of the twentieth century and sustained them and their families into the 1950s, Detroit became the birthplace of the American middle class. In many ways, the city came to exemplify the American dream and, at the same time, the intrinsic characteristics which made it so elusive to communities of color.

Over the following decades, Detroit, like so many Rust Belt cities, was subject to the extreme consequences of economic decline and collapse. With industrial shutdowns came loss of jobs and residents. This, compounded with the effects of corrupt political, policing, and planning systems, served to only exacerbate the issues of preexisting racial inequalities. The impacts are still very evident in the city today.

Although Detroit’s story has become one of the most iconic, the city is not alone in the scars it bears. Inflicted by centuries of discriminatory policies and pervasive racial injustices in our systems that persist today, these wounds run deep in our American cities. Now, more than ever, we see evidence of this across the nation, brought into sharper focus by the Black Lives Matter movement—with collective voices that are speaking out against violence and systemic injustice against people of color. As Detroit works to rebuild itself, it must do so with a dedicated focus on equity and racial justice, and a commitment to creating more inclusive social and physical infrastructure.

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Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Middle school students documenting a site with photos
Middle school youth photo-document open space adjacent to their school prior to an intergenerational neighborhood park redesign. / image: Lynn M. Lickteig

We are honored to share the first of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer. The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

For readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of placemaking, would you please share a bit about it?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Placemaking involves bringing people together to plan, design, construct, and inhabit settings of daily life: the local region, city, town, neighborhood, and everywhere people live, learn, work, and play. It is an art and a science, as people contribute their insights, creativity, and knowledge to co-construct places of meaning and memory.

The last two years have seen a wave of youth activism—first climate strikes, and more recently, demonstrations that Black Lives Matter. The climate strikers are rallying for a better future built on renewable energy, social and intergenerational justice, and the protection of biodiversity and the living world. Their scale is global. As one of their slogans says, “There is no Planet B.” Placemaking brings ideas like these down to the local level. By including young people in placemaking, we invite them to participate in creating the world they want to live in. They are telling us that they want a world where people live in harmony with nature.

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Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020

by Bill Estes, ASLA, Robert Hewitt, FASLA, and Ryan A. Hargrove, ASLA

Prior to the shift to online instruction, University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture students were utilizing a digital platform to create and share work. The image shows a lesson on perspective drawing. / image: Ryan Hargrove

Webinar: Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020 (recording now available)
Thursday, July 23, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Hosted by ASLA’s Education & Practice PPN

As COVID-19 cases are surging across several states, many educators are in a state of limbo planning for the coming school year. As an affiliate faculty member and lecturer in the University of Washington’s Department of Landscape Architecture, I too am looking toward the autumn with a mix of uncertainty and optimism. In a recent email from the University describing the planned approach to reopening, it is currently anticipated that some classes will be taught in-person, some taught remotely, and some will be a hybrid of both approaches. In any scenario, I, like many others, am in the process of thinking through my class and how to best serve my students while working within social distancing requirements or remote learning challenges.

To a degree, remote learning is no longer new, and many lessons have been learned through the rapid shift universities were forced into this past spring. While I was not teaching through this transition, I followed it closely with intrigue and I had some experiences as a guest lecturer reviewer throughout the spring quarter. Still, I kept asking myself, how are other instructors adapting and what lessons have they learned in the process that could influence my planning for the fall? There have been several groups within universities and departments that worked together to develop repeatable and effective solutions, and there have been helpful articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the “Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching” series in Places Journal.

In addition to these resources, I have spoken to many students and faculty regarding the ups and downs of their experiences. Recently, I spoke with Associate Professor, Ryan Hargrove, PhD, ASLA, from the University of Kentucky, and he shared some interesting and insightful thoughts on his experiences with remote education.

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The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration

Landscape architects at work in a design office

Webinar: The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration and Experiences in the Time of COVID-19 (recording and additional resources now available)
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Construction contract administration is an important part of the profession of landscape architecture. When properly orchestrated, this phase allows the landscape architect to take a decisive path to help ensure successful implementation of the design and materials they have specified for a project.

Seasoned landscape architects often have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform construction contract administration services, simply based on their real-world experience. However, even they can have specific questions about their role and processes—perhaps being unfamiliar or unsure of certain aspects. Beginning and emerging landscape architects may feel overwhelmed or insecure regarding this phase. It is also important that landscape architecture students have a preliminary awareness of this subject.

Therefore, the ASLA Professional Practice Committee created The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration with the intent of providing information, knowledge, and guidance to a sometimes unfamiliar and misunderstood facet of the profession. The document serves as a reference to assist landscape architects in the construction contract administration of landscape architecture construction projects.

ASLA members may access the guidelines for free—just add the document to your cart and check out, using your ASLA member username and password.

To learn more about construction contract administration, please join us on Tuesday, July 21 for an overview of ASLA’s Construction Contract Administration Guidelines, plus discussion of current events and how COVID-19 is affecting construction contract administration, presented by Wm. Dwayne Adams, FASLA, Emily M. O’Mahoney, FASLA, Joy Kuebler, ASLA, and Keven Graham, FASLA.

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Documenting Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

Pine Ranch
Pine Ranch, HALS AZ-4-5, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

2020 HALS Challenge: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes
Deadline: July 31, 2020

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.

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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