Climate Action Now: Landscape Architects as Climate Advocates

Climate Action Now presenters Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, Scott Bishop, ASLA, April Philips, FASLA, Pamela Conrad, ASLA, and Adrian Smith, FASLA / image: courtesy of Adrian Smith

During the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, representatives from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee (CAC) shared how ASLA is advocating for the landscape architecture community to have a voice in the international conversation on climate action, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s recent COP26.

Committee leaders discussed communications, action, advocacy, and working together with international coalitions to scale up the new inclusive, climate-smart planning and design practices required to achieve zero emissions in the built environment by 2040. Our presenters were:

  • Scott Bishop, ASLA, Climate Action Committee (CAC) Chair, Bishop Land Design
  • Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, CAC Immediate Past Chair
    VRLA
    Pamela Conrad, ASLA, CMG Landscape Architecture, Climate Positive Design
  • April Philips, FASLA, April Philips Design Works
  • Adrian Smith, FASLA, ASLA Vice President of Professional Practice, NYC Parks and Recreation

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The 2021 ASLA Conference in Review: Professional Practice Network Highlights from Nashville

The 2021 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk / image: Alexandra Hay

Practice Basecamp at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville earlier this month was the EXPO’s hub for practice-focused programming, including fast-paced Game Changer talks and presentations from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (stay tuned for announcements of the 2021 HALS Challenge winners and the 2022 HALS Challenge theme, coming to The Field soon!).

Today we are taking a look back at the campfire sessions organized by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). These conversation-focused events were  opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. In case you missed the conference this year, we hope the photos below provide a glimpse of all the goings-on in Practice Basecamp.

For those interested in watching recordings of education sessions that took place in Nashville, many sessions will be available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning in the coming weeks.

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Sustainability, Sustainable Landscape Metrics, and SITES

Grant Park Gateway, Atlanta, GA / image: The Sustainable SITES Initiative®

Take a survey to show your sustainable landscape knowledge!

A research team is looking to understand landscape architecture professionals’ knowledge, interest, and participation in sustainable landscape design and sustainable landscape metrics.

They’ve released an anonymous survey and are hoping that you will weigh in. The survey explores the relationship between professionals’ interest in sustainable landscapes and knowledge of and participation with sustainable landscape metrics.

The research team includes:

  • Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, ASLA Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) Co-Chair
  • Michael Ross, ASLA, SITES AP, Assistant Professor, School of Landscape Architecture, The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • Kathryn Nelson, ASLA, SITES AP, Instructor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Texas Tech University
  • Olivia Sievers Ross, SITES AP, Hinoki Designs

You may notice that those involved are SITES APs. In fact, the survey partially focuses on the SITES certification. The SITES certification promotes sustainable and resilient landscape development. It can be used for development projects located on sites with or without buildings to enhance their sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies, and improve resilience.

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ASLA 2021 Conference Education Session Highlights, Part 2

Blevins Japanese Garden / image: courtesy of Cheekwood

The 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture begins this Friday in Nashville! In addition to the events planned for the EXPO’s Practice Basecamp, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 100 sessions offering professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by track, speaker, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, AICP, GBCI, ISA, and more).

Below, we run through the second half of these education highlights (see the sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs in our previous post):

See below for the education sessions in each PPN topic area, or click the PPN name above to jump to that section.

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ASLA 2021 Conference Education Session Highlights, Part 1

Nashville’s Cumberland Park / image: Kenny Clayton

The 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture begins this Friday in Nashville! In addition to the events planned for the EXPO’s Practice Basecamp, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 100 sessions offering professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by track, speaker, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, AICP, GBCI, ISA, and more).

If you can’t make it to Nashville this year, a number of education sessions will be recorded and shared as Online Learning webinars so you can still learn about the latest in landscape architecture and earn PDH on demand.

Below, we run through the first half of these education highlights by PPN practice area (stay tuned for sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs this Thursday):

See below for the education sessions related to each PPN practice area, or click the PPN name above to jump to that section.

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Practice Basecamp Preview: Professional Practice Network Events in Nashville

Practice Basecamp at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville will be the EXPO’s hub for a range of practice-focused programming:

  • 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 events 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. Perhaps best of all: no one has to remember to unmute in order to participate.

Want to make the most of your PPN experience at the conference? Explore what’s planned and get ready to make new connections in Nashville.

Saturday, November 20

12:30 – 1:00 pm

1:00 – 1:45 pm

3:15 – 3:45 pm

Sunday, November 21

11:30 am – 12:15 pm

1:00 – 1:45 pm

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Revitalizing an Urban Village: The Example of the Sterling Community

by Thomas Schurch, ASLA

A master plan for a portion of the Sterling Neighborhood depicts street upgrades, public spaces including a memorial square at a highpoint of the site, townhouses inspired by historic mill houses, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Inclusive of the plan is geothermal and solar renewable energy, green stormwater management, and public safety using principles of CPTED. Click here to view at a larger scale. / image: Sterling Community Design Studio, Clemson University, 2018

The Sterling Community in Greenville, South Carolina, is a significant, legacy Black neighborhood in the Southeast. With its remarkable emergence in the 1890s through establishment of a high school for young Black Americans by Reverend Daniele Melton Minus, a tradition for education and excellence was begun. The son of former slaves, Reverend Minus was supported by philanthropist Mrs. E.R. Sterling, for whom the school and later the neighborhood were named. Sterling High School was ultimately adopted by the public school system, a new and prominent building was built, and it became a center of educational, social, and spiritual life in the community and neighborhood.

The neighborhood’s significance in the Civil Rights Movement during and prior to the 1960s and beyond is particularly noteworthy, as partially evidenced by the prominence of Jesse Jackson, who was raised there. In 1967, at a time of integration, Sterling High School was mysteriously burned to the ground—a great loss for the community. With organized efforts within the Movement, Sterling High School’s student body implored the Greenville County School Board to maintain the school’s integrity. It remained a viable institution until 1970, when integration was fully implemented.

In intervening years, outmigration of residents, subsequent neighborhood decline, and recent gentrification of surrounding areas did not diminish Sterling’s place in history as a center of African American life and vitality—a tribute to its legacy and importance. The Sterling Community Trust, formed by Sterling High School graduates in partnership with the City of Greenville, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA), and the Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, represented a broad coalition for neighborhood revitalization.

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The National Trust Includes Historic Cultural Landscapes on the 2021 List of 11 Most Endangered Historic Properties

by Barbara Wyatt, ASLA

Boston Harbor Islands / image: Boston Harbor Now

It may not have been deliberate, but the National Trust’s 2021 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Properties includes five cultural landscapes. The National Trust has become an excellent champion of properties reflecting the nation’s diversity, and efforts to stretch the nation’s historic preservation consciousness to encompass landscapes is reaping results. None of the five are designed landscapes, but each reflects an important moment in American history, and each is a distinct landscape type. Several reflect a diversity that was absent in the early years of the preservation movement. Kudos to the National Trust for encompassing sites that reflect many of America’s people and the landscapes they occupied.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation began identifying threatened sites more than 30 years ago by publishing the annual 11 Most Endangered list. Competition can be keen to garner a place on the list because the publicity and advocacy has saved properties. Typically, properties on the list are threatened by destruction or neglect. It is not unusual for landscapes to appear on the list, including designed landscapes, but five on one list seems like a win.

A summary of the significance and threats to the properties on the 2021 list that encompass significant landscapes follows, drawn from information on the National Trust website. And, the National Trust is accepting Letters of Intent for the 2022 list through November 12, 2021—you’ll find more on the nomination process below.

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LEED to SITES Readiness Tool Now Available

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Pittsburgh, PA / image: Paul G. Wiegman

Did you know that LEED projects may qualify for up to 65 points toward SITES certification? ASLA members might be particularly interested in this, given the sustainable landscape feats that can be achieved through SITES, a comprehensive certification system for creating sustainable and resilient land development projects.

The SITES and LEED rating systems are complementary and can be used independently or in tandem. The new tool—an update to the 2016 document Synergies between SITES and LEED—streamlines LEED credits that have synergies with SITES credits, and has been created to assist LEED project teams to quickly assess their readiness (and gaps) toward achieving SITES certification, based on the LEED credits achieved or anticipated. The tool provides a quick scorecard view of the available synergies between the two programs and includes newly identified credit synergies.

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Memorializing the Guardians of the First Amendment

by Jay Graham, FASLA

The ‘Guardians of the First Amendment’ Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland / image: © Allen Russ Photography, LLC

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.

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Using Insurance Principles for Irrigation and Water Resource Management

by Michael Igo, Affiliate ASLA, PE, D.WRE, LEED AP, CID

Reclamation pond spillway
ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Duke University Water Reclamation Pond, Durham, NC. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects / image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

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.

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Get a Seat at the Table: Landscape Architects Needed for Federal Positions

ASLA 2017 Student Collaboration Honor Award. The White House Kitchen Garden, Washington, DC. University of Virginia / image: UVA School of Architecture / Mary McCall, Associate ASLA

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.

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Landscape Architects United for Climate Action

Climate Positive Design is a research initiative that launched in 2019 to improve the carbon impact of the built environment through collective action. Its mission is to help projects become Climate Positive solutions that sequester more carbon than they emit.
ASLA 2020 Professional Research Honor Award. Climate Positive Design. Pamela Conrad, ASLA / image: CMG Landscape Architecture

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.

ASLA also ratified the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Commitment, joining a global coalition of 70,000 landscape architects in 77 countries in committing to limiting planetary warming to 1.5°C (2.7 °F). This is the largest coalition of landscape architecture professionals ever assembled to advance climate action.

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Healthcare & Therapeutic Gardens Interview Series: Dr. Garuth Chalfont

by Afrouz Rahmati, Assoc. ASLA

images: courtesy of Dr. Garuth Chalfont

The Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is pleased to share a new installment in their ongoing Healthcare & Therapeutic Gardens Interview Series: a conversation with Dr. Garuth Chalfont.

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.

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Let’s Design Shared Spaces Together

Nashville’s Cumberland Park / image: Laura Schroeder Photoqraphy

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.

The advanced rate registration deadline for the conference is October 14, 2021—don’t miss it!

Tools for Equitable Park Planning and Design: Digital Workflows to Enhance Park Access and Quality

by Matthew Wilkins, PLA, ASLA, APA

Rio Hondo Park Concept
Rio Hondo Park Concept / image: KTUA Landscape Architecture and Planning

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.

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Indian Mounds: A Sacred Burial Place

by Brenda Williams, FASLA

Indian Mounds: a sacred burial place
The cemetery is sacred to living Dakota people whose ancestors are buried here. / image: Quinn Evans

The American Society of Landscape Architects recently announced the 2021 ASLA Professional and Student Awards, including the project highlighted here: Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study and Messaging Plan, winner of a 2021 Professional Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning Category.

THIS PLACE IS NOT A PARK

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.

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Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education, Part 2

by Jeffrey Hou, Ph.D., ASLA, and Mallika Bose, Ph.D.

Photo of participants in the Redesigning the Design School Initiative
The ReDesigning the Design School initiative at the Arizona State University / image: courtesy of the Design School at Arizona State University

The following is the second installment in a summary of a recent panel on decolonizing design education that took place at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)‘s 2021 conference (click here for Part 1). In order to address systemic racism and biases within institutions that teach landscape architecture, we must confront the way our profession approaches the teaching and production of knowledge within landscape architecture that replicates racist and oppressive processes, policies, and outcomes in communities of color.
– ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network Leadership Team

Part 2: Cultural and Institutional Transformations

Cultural and institutional transformations were the focus of the second panel which began by discussing initiatives that have been underway at several institutions, the processes by which these changes are being implemented, challenges faced, and stories of success. The panel also discussed the role of institutions of higher learning in society and the actions that could be taken within these institutions to build bridges and connections with civil society to reimagine and work towards creating a just and equitable future for all.

Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, from Arizona State University began with a discussion of the ReDesigning the Design School initiative at ASU, started in 2019. The initiative involved listening to hundreds of voices from industry, alumni, students, staff, and faculty over hundreds of hours of meetings, and hundreds of pages of reports, over the course of two years. Cheng served on the Executive Committee for the ReDesign Committee, which identified six strategic goals:

  • build a truly accessible design school,
  • teach designers to be human-centered,
  • reinvent the relationship between community and design school,
  • decolonize design education,
  • open up silos, and
  • make design central.

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Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education

by Jeffrey Hou, Ph.D., ASLA, and Mallika Bose, Ph.D.

Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education panel session at CELA 2021
The first panel featured Alison Hirsch (University of Southern California), David de la Peña (University of California, Davis), Joern Langhorst (University of Colorado, Denver), and Deni Ruggeri (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), moderated by Jeffrey Hou (University of Washington, Seattle). / image: Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

The following two-part series is a summary of a recent panel on decolonizing design education that took place at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)‘s 2021 conference. In order to address systemic racism and biases within institutions that teach landscape architecture, we must confront the way our profession approaches the teaching and production of knowledge within landscape architecture that replicates racist and oppressive processes, policies, and outcomes in communities of color.
– ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network Leadership Team

Part 1: Curricular and Pedagogical Transformation

With the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, calls to dismantle longstanding barriers and biases in society have been permeating through our political, social, and economic systems, including design education. Amid the recent calls for change, “decolonizing design” has become a rallying cry among many students and faculty in disciplines ranging from architecture to art and design (see, for example, “Architecture’s Colonial Reckoning” from The Architect’s Newspaper and “What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design?” from AIGA Eye on Design).

But what does decolonizing mean in design? For landscape architecture, what does it mean to decolonize our educational practices? What changes are necessary to transform the power structure that produces and sustains the inequity in society through design? What are the challenges and barriers? What actions and initiatives already exist?

These questions were at the center of a two-part, main-stage panel discussion at the annual conference of the Council of Educators for Landscape Architecture (CELA), held online in March 2021. The first session focused on issues related to curriculum and pedagogy, featuring David de la Peña, University of California, Davis; Alison Hirsch, ASLA, University of Southern California; Joern Langhorst, University of Colorado, Denver; and Deni Ruggeri, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The second session addressed cultural and institutional transformation, featuring Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, Arizona State University; Michael Rios, University of California, Davis; and Julie Stevens, Iowa State University. We served respectively as the moderators for the two panels.

The speakers were invited to speak about their involvement with related initiatives either at the program, department, college, or university level. In Session 1, Alison Hirsch has been working with a network of colleagues in North America to rethink the history curriculum in landscape architecture. In his recent role as program director, David de la Peña has been working with his colleagues and students in reassessing the program curriculum at UC Davis. At UC Denver, Joern Langhorst has focused on transdisciplinary opportunities at the college level. As the lead for the Landscape Education for Democracy (LED) initiative, Deni Ruggeri has developed an online, collaborative, multinational program to complement existing programs and curricula focusing on landscape democracy and participatory action research. (The work of those in the second panel will be introduced in Part 2 of this summary.)

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Shifting Toward Climate Positive Outcomes with the New SITES Carbon Pilot Credit

by Danielle Pieranunzi

U.S. Land Port of Entry at Columbus, NM / image: Robert Reck

The first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as “code red for humanity,” was released on August 9, 2021. For those of us invested in sustainability and climate mitigation, the results were sobering but unsurprising: We’re on track to exceed 1.5 degrees C of warming in the next two decades, and every fraction of a degree of warming leads to more dangerous and costly impacts for the planet. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century is still within reach, but requires holistic, transformational change. It requires universal adoption of sustainability guidelines, including broad support for sustainable landscapes, which provide the unique opportunity to not only reduce carbon emissions but to protect and even create carbon sinks. To support these goals, GBCI recently released a SITES Pilot Credit focused on assessing and improving site carbon performance.

The intent of the new SITES Pilot Credit is to understand and improve a site’s carbon performance by assessing and increasing carbon sequestration capacity and reducing embodied and operational carbon emissions. / The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

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Be Part of the Solution: Register for the 10th Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

Purdue University’s entry, A Visible Solution, earned honorable mention for design beauty and elegance in the demonstration project category of the 2020 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: Purdue University Design Board

Registration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 10th annual Campus RainWorks Challenge is open through October 1, 2021.

Campus RainWorks is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

Stormwater pollution is a problem that impacts public health and water quality in communities across the country. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites students to become part of the solution.

To learn more, check out the official Campus RainWorks Challenge Competition Brief, with details on design categories, submission requirements, and rules for participation.

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Here are the ASLA 2021 Game Changer Contenders

Game Changers voting

The ASLA 2021 Game Changer contenders have been announced! Head over to @nationalasla on Instagram to watch all the videos and vote, either through ASLA’s Game Changers Instagram story or as a comment on the two Game Changer posts: videos #1-9 here and videos #10-15 here.

Help us choose the finalists who will present their big idea at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture this November in Nashville.

Cast your vote for your favorite submissions today, then stay tuned to see who will meet us in Music City.

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Park(ing) Day & Environmental Justice

by the Environmental Justice PPN Leadership Team

Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)’s Open Street in New York City / image: Gloria Lau, ASLA

With Park(ing) Day—this Friday, September 17, 2021—just days away, leaders from ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) have shared their experiences with Park(ing) Day, how they have highlighted environmental justice issues through their parklet designs, and their thoughts on Park(ing) Day as a platform to address environmental justice.

Chingwen Cheng, ASLA
PPN Officer and Past Co-Chair
Program Head and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Design + Environmental Design, The Design School, Arizona State University

Park(ing) Day started by responding to a lack of people-centered urban design and automobile-driven urban development. Transforming a parking space to a park space is a statement to advocate for inclusive and people-centered design. Many neighborhoods in Phoenix have experienced inequitable distribution of open space and urban tree canopy, resulting in vulnerable conditions under extreme heat and divergent health outcomes. Park(ing) Day provides a space and time for landscape architecture professionals and educators to get together and advocate for creating quality environments for all.

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Competition / Collaboration: What a Design Challenge Taught Us During a Year Online

by Cullen Meves, ASLA

Topography and Temporality / image: Ke-Ping Kuo, Student Affil. ASLA, Northeastern University

As college students are returning to class this Fall, either online, remote, or hybrid, this post reflects on the extraordinary year just completed and the advances in digital technology evolving simultaneously in our socially-distanced current scenario. The 2020-2021 university school-year saw an immense shift in academic practice and online curriculum. Every professor, faculty member, and student experienced a barrage of new online technologies, teaching and collaboration strategies, and a fundamentally changed appreciation for the vast array of digital tools available.

Over the course of the Spring 2021 semester, five universities engaged in the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, spearheaded by ReMain Nantucket and adapting educational models developed at University of Florida. The Challenge called on interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from leading design universities to reimagine Nantucket Harbor under the latest projections of sea level rise. Teams were asked to create visually impactful designs and propose adaptations and innovations that would enable coastal communities to imagine what Nantucket’s future under sea level rise and climate impacts may look like.

The teams worked with 24 local and regional advisors as well as residents of Nantucket for context and inspiration, all from remote locations geographically dispersed across the United States and for the most part connecting only via online meetings during the semester-long Challenge. Digital communication and representational tools took center-stage over the course of this Challenge and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses these tools offer in this new era of online design.

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STEM, à la Landscape Architecture

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

Planting seedlings
image: Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

To learn more about career discovery, register now for Dream Big with Design later this month, ASLA’s inaugural virtual showcase of landscape architecture and PreK-12 design learning, with fun sessions and resources for students, as well as for PreK-12 educators, ASLA members, and other design professionals seeking to introduce students to the profession. There’s also a pre-Dream Big webinar happening on Friday, September 17—Hollywood’s Backlot Urbanism: A Cinematographic Pattern Language for Landscape Architecture, presented by Chip Sullivan, FASLA.

From June 28 to August 6, 2021, I had the opportunity to be an instructor in a summer program at elementary schools in Henrico County and Richmond, Virginia. Even though my priority at the time was working on my book, I accepted the challenge as a way to test how lessons on landscape architecture concepts can be integrated when implementing STEM activities.

I used lessons that I created and taught during my career as an educator for over 30 years at New York City public schools, but now with an added STEM approach. Although I knew that I was going to integrate concepts from landscape architecture and 3D design, I decided not to include the phrase “landscape architecture” in the program title because it can sound like complex and intimidating work for elementary school children. For this reason, I selected lessons that would help students develop design skills about the outdoor and built environment using the word “environment” as a more inclusive term, because I wanted to be perceived just as the “STEM teacher.”

But what is STEM? Many people know it as the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; however, I agree with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)’s description of it as “an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real world lessons as students apply these disciplines in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the global enterprise enabling students to compete in the new economy.” Therefore, I used this definition as a guide when designing each lesson for this summer program.

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Virtual Community Outreach Meetings May Be Here to Stay

by Kalle Maggio, ASLA, David Barth, PhD, ASLA, Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, and Lauren Schmitt, ASLA

Woman using a laptop and smartphone
image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Over the past year and a half, and as we all continue to be affected by the pandemic, many industries, including the design professions and public practice, shifted from in-person community meetings to the plethora of virtual platforms available for community outreach initiatives. The ASLA Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team decided to conduct a survey that asked landscape architects to describe their experience facilitating virtual community outreach.

The majority of those who provided feedback through this survey used computers and phones for these meetings, and the virtual meeting platforms that were used the most were Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Zoom was the most utilized and described as intuitive, recognizable, and yielded higher participation rates than other platforms. Microsoft Teams has the upper hand for its scheduling capabilities and links with the Microsoft Outlook email platform.

However, there are those who stated that community meetings all have different requirements and engagement should be customized to meet the community’s needs on a case-by-case basis.

The consensus is that though in-person meetings cannot be replaced completely, there is a growing acceptance of virtual meetings due to their convenience and efficiency. People are able to join virtual meetings for the arranged time slot rather than having to spend time traveling to and from a physical meeting site. Some survey participants stated that it allows meeting facilitators to maintain better order, which is necessary for any productive meeting. There is also the ability to record meetings, which provides better review and documentation. Overall, the pandemic has made an impact on the way we continue to conduct business and interact with one another both physically and virtually.

Survey Findings Snapshot

The online survey garnered 61 responses, representing practitioners in private consulting practice (60%) and public agency practice (30%), with other respondents representing students, academic institutions, and non-profits.

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Creating a Space to Reflect, Heal, and Remember

by Valerie Bassett, ASLA

Park visitors using musical instruments
image: Valerie Bassett

The Quinterra Legacy Garden

Seven years after five university students were killed at a house party in Calgary, Alberta, a memorial park designed to honor them opened recently in the local South Glenmore Park. The design of the area, now known as the Quinterra Legacy Garden, was informed by sensitivities surrounding the planning process and shaped by the steps taken to support the families’ design vision for the creation of the park.

The tragedy happened in April 2014 on “Bermuda Shorts Day,” a time which used to be a celebration of the end of the university school year. After several years of mourning, in 2019, we were contacted by the Quinterra Group, set up by family and friends of those lost, to meet with them to understand their aspirations.

In short, the Group’s vision was for a peaceful, contemplative, and vibrant outdoor community space for people to be inspired, to heal, and to connect with nature. They also wanted it to be a special place to celebrate the students’ lives and bring a positive light to the tragedy. With each of the students being known for their love of music, art, and the community, this had to be at the core of the legacy garden.

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Time to Change the Game

Call for Game Changer presentations graphic
The call for presentations is now open for these fast-paced, innovative talks at the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. Submit by September 9.

Do you have an idea that will change the field of landscape architecture? Here’s your opportunity to share it at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture.

We’re seeking presentations for game-changing ideas that can move a profession forward—ideas from different perspectives, voices, and backgrounds. Those big ideas could come from you. You don’t need to present on-the-boards projects—just your big idea!

Game Changer sessions are designed to be fast-paced, innovative talks. Presenters will have just seven minutes to share your game changing idea.

The deadline for presentation proposals is noon PT on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

No matter your speaking experience, this is a great opportunity to share ideas and concepts under development that will drive innovation. Submissions from first-time presenters, students, emerging professionals, and allied professionals are strongly encouraged.

What you need to enter:

  • Your information: Tell us about yourself.
  • Short description: Pitch this presentation in two sentences. How will your idea change the field?
  • Video: Submit a short (one-minute), cell phone-quality video describing your Game Changer session. No fancy production required. Most importantly, have fun with it! The video must be under one-minute to be eligible.

Eligibility and registration:

  • Landscape architecture professionals (graduates of a landscape architecture program recognized by ASLA) and landscape architecture students wishing to present at the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture must be active members of ASLA.
  • Selected Game Changer presenters will receive 30% off a full registration to the 2021 Conference.
  • Allied professionals are encouraged to both submit and speak, but they are not required to be members of ASLA.

To help you get started, the ASLA Professional Practice Networks leadership teams have created a list of inspirational game changer topics that you might consider exploring.

Campus Planning & Design

  • What’s one silver lining from COVID that has changed how campus open spaces are used—and is it here to stay? COVID has changed how open spaces are planned and used. What will future open spaces look like?

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What is the Post-Pandemic Future of Transit in the U.S.?

by Sean Batty, ASLA

A busy street in Portland, Oregon with pedestrians, buses, and trams
image: Sean Batty

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on U.S. transportation. Remote work and unemployment dramatically reduced commuting trips for all transportation modes. Significant declines in transit ridership across the country has been the subject of many headlines. As vaccination rates increase and businesses (hopefully) re-open, what does the future hold for public transit?

U.S. transportation systems, including transit, are designed around the home-to-work commute. This is true despite that fact that most trips do not originate from a home and end at work. Travel to work trips are more likely to occur during “peak demand” or rush hour. The rise in telecommuting has made these early morning/late afternoon trips susceptible to long term (and possibly permanent) decline.

Mass vaccinations and declines in infection rates have eased travel restrictions and social distancing mandates in many states. As a result, travel demand has rebounded to near post-COVID levels relatively quickly. Experts are predicting that this trend will continue after the pandemic is truly over, unless the shift toward telecommuting persists.

In 2018, the percentage of workers telecommuting was around 6% nationally, or triple the rate of telecommuting in the 1980s. Technological advances since the 1980s have made telecommuting possible even if not all were on-board with the practice. Companies reluctant to allow telecommuting pre-COVID suddenly were forced to allow staff to work from home. The extended duration of the pandemic habituated remote work for many. This, combined with advancements in teleworking technologies, potential benefits to the corporate bottom line, and increased employee satisfaction and retention, has caused some experts to predict a more significant and lasting adoption of telework. The result may be a ‘flattening of the peak’ volume during historically traditional rush hours. [See “A Little More Remote Work Could Change Rush Hour A Lot,” by Emily Badger for The New York Times.]

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Community Scale Wildfire Mitigation for Paradise, California

by Jonah Susskind, ASLA

Officials conduct a prescribed burn in Sonoma County, California. / image: Jonah Susskind

On November 8, 2018, the town of Paradise, California, was destroyed in a matter of hours as the Camp Fire tore through the region, making history as the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire event ever recorded. Over the past 50 years, California and much of the Western United States and Canada have experienced a dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires.

Today, the average fire season in these areas is two and a half times longer than it was in 1970. In California, six of the state’s 20 most destructive wildfires have burned in 2020 alone, with associated costs projected to eclipse 20 billion dollars. Experts caution that due to climate change, we have entered a new era of perennial megafires that will only become more destructive and costly in the coming decades. In California, these impending challenges have been magnified by the rapid proliferation of new housing along the outermost edges of metropolitan regions. These areas, known as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), represent the fastest growing land use category in the United States, and are currently home to more than 11 million Californians (about a quarter of the state’s total population).

In Paradise and other WUI communities, these parallel risk factors—climate change and increased rural development—have been compounded by the state’s strict enforcement of federal fire suppression policies, aimed at eliminating wildfire from the landscape altogether. While these policies have been relatively effective at minimizing the impacts of wildfire throughout the past century, they have inadvertently created an increasingly hazardous oversupply of fuel in today’s forests. As a result, wildfires are becoming larger and more destructive than ever before, triggering a cascade of challenges related to firefighting operations and urban planning.

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