In 2018, a team from Moody Graham Landscape Architecture met with members of the Annapolis Caucus of African American Leaders after touring various sites around town that tell their story. We thought their story could be told in a more emphatic manner, and shared how landscape architects are skilled at telling community narratives within the physical environment. Our firm has a couple of local examples which they were familiar with, without knowing the designs were by landscape architects. They seemed to welcome our idea to help them.
A few months later, a tragedy occurred in our town when a gunman killed five journalists at the office of our local newspaper, the Capital Gazette. A group from the African-American Caucus, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, approached us to see if we could help design a memorial for the five journalists. That was the beginning of a two-and-a-half year engagement with many members of the Annapolis community.
The Design Process
The committee’s initial idea was to have images of the five slain journalists on a granite monument to be placed at a significant location in Annapolis. Moody Graham offered to have an in-house design charrette to generate design ideas. This effort was offered pro bono to give the committee something to use to attract community interest.
We generated nine concepts, which we shared with the committee and the Annapolis Art in Public Places Commission. We then met with leadership of the Baltimore Media Group, the owners of the Capital Gazette newspaper. At that meeting, the narrative behind the memorial took a more focused direction. We were told that journalists do not want to be the story. Journalists are part of the community. They are the guardians of freedom of the press, for the community.
by Michael Igo, Affiliate ASLA, PE, D.WRE, LEED AP, CID
Whether it’s a fender-bender, a prescription co-pay, or a tree branch falling on our house, insurance is a part of our daily life and economy. The insurance business has been around for millennia. As landscape professionals, we often equate irrigation with an insurance policy against drought. But, when we actually apply the basic principles of insurance to irrigation, we see that the current system of water allocation for landscapes is faulty.
Consider a landscape owner deciding to install an irrigation system: they desire an “insurance policy” to avoid the risk of plant death during drought. The money paid to an installer could be considered the “insurance premium” to deliver water to the landscape. However, if we take a closer look, the real insurer is not the irrigation installer—it is Mother Nature paying out in freshwater supplies!
In the diagram below, we have a situation where the landscape irrigation owner, “the policyholder,” is paying a “premium” in the form of money, but the insurance company, Mother Nature, is not receiving these premiums and is constantly paying out in the form of water. In this case, the policyholder’s actual cost to the insurer is zero. This underscores the reality that most land developers do not pay the environmental cost necessary for Mother Nature to sustain her resources for all.
The White House recently launched a website inviting the American public to apply for political appointment positions, and ASLA encourages its members who want to make a difference and want a seat at the table to use the White House “get involved” portal to apply for opportunities including full-time policy positions and volunteer advisory boards and committees.
Every four years, after each presidential election, about 9,000 federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government become available. These positions, commonly known as political appointments or “plum” positions (named after the color of the original publication listing these positions, The Plum Book), must be filled by the incoming president and are subject to noncompetitive appointment.
With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) taking place October 31 – November 12, 2021, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) continues to advance climate action.
Earlier this month, ASLA joined with Architecture 2030 to call for all sovereign governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040, which would accelerate the current timeline to achieve emission reductions outlined in the Paris Climate Accord by a decade. The 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué, which will be issued to world leaders at the UN climate conference.
Dr. Chalfont is a leading practitioner in the art and science of healing gardens, therapeutic spaces, and dementia gardens that incorporate the natural world into the healing process. He designs and builds engaging outdoor spaces in dementia care environments and leads hands-on training workshops to facilitate their active and enjoyable use by residents, staff, and families. In his research, he explores the benefits of the natural world for holistic health (mind, body, and soul), in particular how nature contributes to prevention of (and healing from) dementia.
What inspires you to do work in the therapeutic landscape?
When I first got into it, I felt that the healing qualities of nature were hugely undervalued and underused in landscape architecture and garden design. The emphasis was on visual qualities rather than a person’s lived experience of spending time outdoors and actually using the space. In care environments, that was predominantly the case. Over the years, I have witnessed and experienced positive changes in the mental and emotional health of a wide range of people through engagement with nature and the outdoors. There is an ethical imperative, that people have a birth-right to receive healing from nature and not be deprived of it.
Cades Cove, Natchez Trace State Park, and Percy Priest Lake are just a couple of Tennessee’s most popular campgrounds, in this state with an abundance of sites for outdoor adventures. But coming soon, on November 20 and 21 only, there’ll be a new gathering spot in Nashville for landscape architects and landscape architecture enthusiasts: ASLA’s Practice Basecamp. Located on the EXPO floor, this will be the place to be, rain or shine, the weekend of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, taking place live and in-person November 19-22, 2021.
Register by this Thursday, October 14, and save $130.
Practice Basecamp will be the EXPO’s hub for a range of practice-focused programming, including:
Engaging campfire sessions organized by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)
Continue the Conversation with select education session presenters
Fast-paced Game Changer presentations
Presentations from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS)
Many of these sessions are designed to be opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees. The Professional Practice Network (PPN)-organized campfire sessions, for instance, will be conversation-focused, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. And perhaps best of all: no has to remember to unmute in order to participate.
This last year has provided an awakening on issues of equality and our environment. One issue in particular that impacts communities nationwide and can be enhanced by landscape architects, is the ease of access and quality of parks. This topic of access to quality parks and open space has been given emphasis throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as parks and open space became vital places to work, live, learn, heal, and seek refuge. Coupled with looming environmental challenges and the ability for parks and open space to help protect and mitigate these impacts, there has never been a better time to focus our attention on the topic of creating healthy and equitable parks. This is our call to action.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, communities of color and those in stressed socio-economic areas have suffered from the inability to social distance and recreate in a safe and therapeutic environment. This adversity has compounded existing health issues impacting these communities, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity which are intertwined among various other environmental health hazards and conditions. Many of these communities are also at higher risk of adverse environmental impacts and are typically at a higher risk of displacement or damage due to extreme weather events. Considering the current impacts of COVID and future challenges they face from changing environmental conditions, one thing is evident, that immediate attention is needed to address our equity and abundance of parks and open space for the health, safety, and wellbeing of our communities across America.
Though parks and open space may seem like a low priority in budgeting for cities and agencies, it’s time for a paradigm shift to seeing these resources as significant or equal to vital social and healthcare services, as these spaces help to bring communities together and allow for therapeutic opportunities to increase health and physical enjoyment and to connect people with nature. Furthermore, park and open space areas serve as vital green infrastructure for communities facing intensified challenges due to climate change, because they serve as critical space to combat and lower the impacts of potential storms and natural disasters.
The Indigenous burial ground that is currently called “Indian Mounds Regional Park” has been a sacred burial ground for over a thousand years. It is significant to living Indigenous Peoples as a cemetery where their ancestors are buried. It is a place of reverence, remembrance, respect, and prayer. When the City of Saint Paul established a park in this location in 1892 with the purpose of protecting the historical setting and spectacular views, connections of contemporaneous Indigenous Peoples to the sacred site were not understood, considered, or valued.
Over the last century the condition, name, and use of the landscape as a park have become beloved to the surrounding community. Yet many non-Indigenous people have wondered about this powerful landscape without understanding its importance to tribes. Through public gatherings with generous sharing by tribal representatives and members of the public, we learned that the power of this place affects the people who interact with it, and there is a strong desire to protect it as a sacred site.