Earth’s Due

by Alli Wilson

ASLA 2021 Professional Honor Award in Urban Design. The CityArchRiver Project, St. Louis, MO. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates / image: Scott Shigley

A Call for Creative Responses to Climate Change

Responses to something as sprawling, manifold, and complex as the climate change crisis can take many forms, from advocacy to art, from research to action plans. While the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is accepting video submissions from emerging artists on the climate change emergency, here on The Field, the Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (PPN) is seeking creative responses to climate change from landscape architects. Today, we are featuring a poem by Alli Wilson, along with more from Alli on what inspired her to write. We welcome your submissions, and look forward to highlighting other entries here on The Field in the future.
– ASLA’s Sustainable Design and Development PPN leadership team

This Earth is Due Diligence

Tell me, landscape architect
Do you truly think
Our environment is resilient
Or is it more on the brink

Is earth and its climate
Healthy, equitable, and safe
Or against our core values
Is reality starting to chafe

We claim we are stewards
Protecting this earth
Yet of meaningful actions
I am finding a dearth

Individual colleagues
Do good work, to be sure
But we can’t all then claim
To be part of the cure

So let’s turn our mission
Into more than a statement
Those old wasteful habits
Let’s see more abatement

Those large format sheets
We print every day
The educational lunches
All in their own tray

Those shipments of rock
With tons of emission
When we look for materials
Let’s source with contrition

Planting non-natives
Pushes birds off that land
Their inevitable extinction
Then goes hand-in-hand

We focus on aesthetics
While the planet gets hotter
Will boulder color matter
If a project’s under water?

Invasives, like cigarettes
Once thought of as healthy
We know now it’s untrue
Yet we still plant them plenty

Just stop with the bottles
Of single use plastic
For community meetings
Carboys aren’t all that drastic

Leave that leaf litter
To naturally decompose
Don’t have it removed
That system just blows

We drive cars to meetings
A quick bike ride away
And should insist irrigation
Is recycled or grey

Have on-site compost
Built into designs
Why ship fertilizer
You can make it just fine

With metal structures
Bolt it, don’t weld
This makes reuse easy
When it needs to be felled

Our furnishing choices
Have long enough lumbered
Use reused, then recycled
You’ll feel unencumbered

Concrete doesn’t cure
Our problems at all
The soil can’t breathe
Plus emissions aren’t small

Until addressing these costs
Is part of each build
Our title of steward
Remains unfulfilled

If we do this right
It’s our time to shine
Our potential is sitting
Like fruit on the vine

Let’s set industry standards
Our peers by our side
So construction isn’t wasteful
But pointed to with pride

So let us start small
With our own pollution
Be more than a profession
Let’s be a solution

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