Join ASLA’s PreK-12 Educator Network


Dream Big with Design event graphic

ASLA invites PreK-12 students and educators across the country to kick off the 2021-2022 school year with DREAM BIG with Design, a two-day virtual event showcasing landscape architecture through hands-on PreK-12 learning sessions for students, with a dynamic forum for the exchange of ideas among PreK-12 educators, ASLA members, and design professionals on the future of the profession. We invite ASLA members, Prek-12 teachers, school counselors, and design professionals to sign up for more information, including access to free resources and professional development opportunities throughout the summer.

DREAM BIG with Design will be held virtually on Thursday, September 23 and Friday, September 24, 2021. The event has been designed to blend easily into PreK-12 STEM lesson plans as well as professional development plans for educators, including teachers and school counselors.

Thanks to ASLA’s dedicated members and proud sponsors, DREAM BIG with Design will be free to attend.

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Get Out into the Field in Nashville this November

Open space at Nashville's onec1ty development
Explore the campus and hear from the development and design teams of ONEC1TY on FS-014 ONEC1TY: Mindful, Healthy Living. / image: Josh Bethea

Among the many draws of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture—from education sessions and seven exciting new tracks to exploring the EXPO and the city of Nashville—the conference’s 14 field sessions are a chance to go beyond the classroom to experience landscapes that will generate new ideas and connections to fellow landscape architects and designers who are passionate about moving the profession forward. Below, we highlight a few of these exciting outings, all of which take place on Friday, November 19.

To take advantage of your membership and early bird discount, use your ASLA member login and password when you register. Registration rates and field session ticket prices increase after August 18, so don’t miss that early bird deadline!

Envisioning Inclusive Communities for Public Housing: the History, Struggles, and Future

Envision Cayce is a redevelopment plan and strategy for one of Nashville’s oldest public housing properties that blends a mixed-use, mixed-income sustainable community with adjacent urban historic neighborhoods near downtown. Enjoy a walking tour of the initial phases and experience the Five Points area of East Nashville.

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Urban Trees: Strategies for Reducing Urban Heat Island in Cities

by Veronica Westendorff, PLA, ASLA, SITES AP

Heat Island Effect Diagram
Parks, open land, and bodies of water can create cooler areas within a city because they do not absorb the sun’s energy the same way buildings and paved surfaces do. / image: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

It doesn’t take a scientist to know. In the middle of summer, walking down the streets of almost any city, there is a notable wave of heat rising off the sidewalks where old trees have deteriorated or been removed and either no replacements or new, young trees which barely cast a shadow across the surface of the walkway are in their place. In contrast, sidewalks and streets lined with mature trees offer respite for pedestrians and cyclists. We cross the street to stand in the shade of a building or under the cooling canopy of the trees around us.

While this change in temperature, referred to as Urban Heat Island (UHI), is noticeable during the day, the real impact of UHI is felt at night, when the sun has set and the impervious surfaces around us hold and slowly release the heat of the day (Norton et al., 2015). This heat begins to compound, and the following day begins at a higher temperature, increasing the overall heat in these areas. Differences in temperature may vary by as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit (Urban ReLeaf, 2016) and are markedly higher in urban areas with more impervious surfaces and less green space. Land cover type plays a large role in moderating these effects. Impervious areas and sealed soil act almost the same in the creation of UHI, while greened areas that include shrub cover and areas with trees and urban forests lessen the effects of UHI (Norton et al., 2015).

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Dearfield, Colorado: Homesteading and the Dream of Black Independence Through Agriculture

by Kevin M. Lyles, PLA, ASLA, and Robert Brunswig, PhD

Black-and-white portrait of Oliver Toussaint Jackson
Oliver Toussaint Jackson moved to Colorado from Ohio in 1877 at the age of 24, establishing and successfully operating a catering business, cafes, a small resort, and a farm in the Denver and Boulder areas. Largely on his own personal initiative, Jackson formed the Negro Town Site and Land Company in 1909 and began purchasing homestead land in the Dearfield area under the Desert Act of 1877 in 1910. / image: James A. Michener Library, University of Northern Colorado

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

The prevailing depiction of homesteaders settling the Great Plains of America is that of stoic white men and their supportive families. But people of all walks of life, races, and creeds sought new opportunities by heading west. Recent research indicates more than 26,000 Black people participated in homesteading the Great Plains, with about 3,500 successfully ‘proving up’ their claims (Edwards et al.). Like most homesteaders, Blacks sought opportunities to start over, obtain land at low cost, and build futures. Additionally, Blacks sought to escape oppression and rising post-Civil War “Jim Crow” racism. Many followed the teachings of Booker T. Washington, an African American intellectual who advocated for Black economic self-sufficiency and social advancement though hard work and vocational training, instead of political agitation. And so many headed west.

Unlike many white homesteaders, most Black homesteaders chose to settle together in rural communities as self-identified ‘colonies.’ Among those communities were Nicodemus (Kansas), Dewitty (Nebraska), Sully (South Dakota), Empire (Wyoming), Blackdom (New Mexico), and Dearfield (Colorado) (Friefeld et al.). Dearfield is exceptional because the colony’s main townsite remains one of very few that still has intact, original standing buildings. It was also one of the latest, established in 1910 when most of the West and Midwest’s desirable farmland and water rights were already claimed.

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An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Part 3

Children playing in the rain
image: Patrick Barkham

What follows is the final part of the interview that I had with Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature. (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.) We end the interview with some of his thoughts about designing for ‘wild children.’
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): What do you see as the most challenging issue that’s preventing children from fully embracing nature? While you have spoken about it in previous questions, let’s fully encapsulate it here.

Patrick Barkham (PB): What’s preventing children from engaging with nature in one word is: adults. We despair about our children being hooked on electronic screens and so forth, as if it’s their fault but it’s down to us adults and I feel the problems are incredibly deep rooted in society.

There are two or three really obvious and practical things in society that I think apply to North America as much as Britain. One is the increase in fear about stranger danger, that our children are unsafe unless we’ve got our eyes on them all the time. Good parenting has become synonymous with perpetual supervision, and we’ve failed to see that this is a very recent phenomenon. It wasn’t a standard that we demanded of our parents as recently as, say, the 1950s. So somehow, we’ve got to get out of that psychological bind.

There’s another problem though, which I think is much more rational, and that’s traffic on our roads. In Britain there isn’t an enormous amount of public space. Our streets and roads are public space, but they are so busy with cars now that it really isn’t safe for children to bike and play on the street, as they once did. An obvious solution, and I think this is happening in the States as well as Britain, is to make streets more shared spaces and have car free Sundays on streets. Neighborhoods can potentially make this happen, particularly if you live on suburban estates with roads that don’t lead anywhere. Again, it’s up to us adults to better regulate our roads and to give children some rights on them, as well as to our car drivers. There’s a brilliant, very elderly sociologist in Britain named Mayer Hillman. He pointed out that we’ve prioritized the rights of car drivers over the rights of one of the most vulnerable groups in society, our children.

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Learning the Business of Design

by Sahar Teymouri, ASLA, and Patricia Matamoros Araujo, Assoc. ASLA

Do you have questions about how a landscape architecture design on paper gets implemented in the real world, and don’t know the answers as a student? Or do you wonder about the practical details of the work you are supposed to do in the future? Maybe you’re a recent graduate just entering the profession, or an emerging or mid-career professional wanting to take the next step on your career path and learn about other aspects of landscape architecture in addition to design.

ASLA’s virtual SKILL | ED program took place across three afternoons last month, with a wide range of sessions addressing many of these questions. Registration to access recorded sessions on-demand is open through this Friday, July 16, and you can watch the sessions until August 31.

First, you’ll learn how to create a killer LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills, pursue the role you’re aiming for, and craft your career path. Next, you will learn how well-known, award-winning landscape architecture firms handle their business development and their strategies to stand out among their competitors. Finally, if you want to manage the business side of design, you will gain some critical insights.

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An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Part 2

Children playing in nature
image: Patrick Barkham

Welcome back to the second part of my interview with Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature. (Click here to read the first part, published last week.) We pick up the conversation by looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on children and their families’ connections with nature.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): As we continue to navigate through the current pandemic, what are your thoughts about connecting children and their families with nature? And, have you had any new ideas or thoughts emerge as a result of the lockdowns and restrictions that we’re experiencing?

Patrick Barkham (PB): The thing that I’ve seen is perhaps small and off point, but we in Britain had our schools shut for more than a term, so almost half a year of our schools being shut and learning either not being provided at all or via online lessons at home. It was a really obvious point to me that in the depths of the pandemic, even in the worst moments of the curve, we could have still provided schooling for our children if we had moved learning outdoors. There was some slightly hopeful talk of that in Britain at the start of the first lockdown and nothing’s really happened with it. The government hasn’t made it a priority or enabled it or funded it in schools.

Understandably, hard-pressed, under-resourced schools haven’t been able to deliver outdoor learning in any enhanced way, and indeed in most schools, there has been less outdoor learning since the pandemic struck than before because teachers have had to focus back on the apparent, key maths and English and so forth that they’ve missed out on. Maths and English can be taught outdoors equally well as indoors. I’ve met some inspiring teachers who are teaching very conventional hard maths and science and English outdoors and getting better results for the children. The children are outdoors and they’re able to concentrate and focus much better when they’re outdoors than when they’re cramped in a noisy, busy classroom, which for some children can lead to sensory overload. My answer would be that the pandemic has been a real opportunity to massively expand outdoor school for everyone.

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The Seventh Shanghai Landscape Forum: Pandemic Revelations

by Lee Parks, International ASLA

Forum poster graphic
7th Shanghai Landscape Forum – The Revelation of Pandemic (poster) / image: The Shanghai Landscape Forum Committee

For the full event summary in Chinese and English, please visit

International practice has been an incredible challenge during the global pandemic as offices around the globe have adapted to new ways of working, attracting and retaining talent, and relying more on digital tools and communication platforms. During the early phases of returning to a ‘new normal,’ international practitioners in China came together for the 7th Shanghai Landscape Forum with the aim to share experiences of the pandemic. It was the first time the forum was held as an online event since it was initiated in 2017.

Speakers from seven world-famous design companies discussed the pandemic from a variety of viewpoints, including personal experience, academic exploration, and practical experience in the profession. Three invited guests included Qi Wei, Design Director of Vanke, Shanghai; Du Pengzhan, Planning and Design Director of Guangzhou Wanxi; and Dong Nannan, Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University. They shared views on development trends, new technologies, big data, autonomous vehicles, and future industry trends, offering advice to practitioners for the post-pandemic era.

Pandemics—Shaping Humanity, Our Landscapes, and Future
Speaker: Lee Parks, International ASLA (Director, Landscape / Landscape Studio Leader)

Lee Parks, Chair of the ASLA International Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN), kicked off the forum with a personal viewpoint on pandemics. As a frequent speaker on nature conservation, biodiversity loss, and ecological design, he discussed the underlying causes, looking back in history at pandemics that shaped advances in public health, urban healthcare systems, and the provision of public open space.

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An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature

Patrick Barkham and his family
image: © Marcus Garrett

I recently had the pleasure of having an extensive Zoom interview with Patrick Barkham. He is an award-winning author and natural history writer for The Guardian. Patrick’s books include The Butterfly Isles, Badgerlands, Coastlines, Islander, and Wild Child. He has edited an anthology of British nature writing, The Wild Isles, and is currently writing a biography of nature writer and wild swimmer Roger Deakin. Patrick lives in Norfolk, England, with his family. What follows will be a three-part series of our conversation about Wild Child that, in all actuality, reads more like a story than an interview.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): Patrick, thanks so much for making time to speak with me today on behalf of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN). Let’s start with this question. Would you please tell us what your favorite place in nature is and what makes it special?

Patrick Barkham (PB): My favorite place in nature is a beach in Norfolk in England called Wells-Next-the-Sea. It’s a small port on the varied marshy North coast and next to it, about a mile beyond over the marshes is the sea, and I love it because it has an enormous golden sandy beach, and sand dunes and pine woods behind it.

It’s very reminiscent of beaches on the East coast of North America and in its scale, a place where you can go and just find peace and space, both of which are two things at a kind of premium in today’s world. It’s also this vast arena of freedom for children, where they can run free and enjoy themselves. Obviously, it’s a place very rich in nature, but for us humans it’s the blank canvas on which we can play and create. My children love drawing in the sand or building the classic motif castle as the tide comes in over the sand. There’s just no end to things that you can do in this environment by engaging peacefully with it.

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