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The New Landscape Declaration is Here!

laf-summit-226wThe Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) released The New Landscape Declaration, a 21st century call to action, at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Annual Meeting in New Orleans. LAF is now encouraging landscape architects across the globe to sign on to this ambitous vision and share how we can turn the ideas into actions to solve the challenges of our time.

The Declaration is the product of LAF’s historic Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future, which brought 700 landscape architects from around the world to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in June. For four months, LAF has been synthesizing all of the ideas and input from the Summit, and the The New Landscape Declaration is the result of many drafts and probing discussions.

We invite you to read through and share your thoughts for action in the comments section below.



Across borders and beyond walls, from city centers to the last wilderness, humanity’s common ground is the landscape itself. Food, water, oxygen – everything that sustains us comes from and returns to the landscape. What we do to our landscapes we ultimately do to ourselves. The profession charged with designing this common ground is landscape architecture.

After centuries of mistakenly believing we could exploit nature without consequence, we have now entered an age of extreme climate change marked by rising seas, resource depletion, desertification and unprecedented rates of species extinction. Set against the global phenomenon of accelerating consumption, urbanization and inequity, these influences disproportionately affect the poor and will impact everyone, everywhere.

Simultaneously, there is profound hope for the future. As we begin to understand the true complexity and holistic nature of the earth system and as we begin to appreciate humanity’s role as integral to its stability and productivity, we can build a new identity for society as a constructive part of nature.

The urgent challenge before us is to redesign our communities in the context of their bioregional landscapes enabling them to adapt to climate change and mitigate its root causes. As designers versed in both environmental and cultural systems, landscape architects are uniquely positioned to bring related professions together into new alliances to address complex social and ecological problems. Landscape architects bring different and often competing interests together so as to give artistic physical form and integrated function to the ideals of equity, sustainability, resiliency and democracy.

As landscape architects we vow to create places that serve the higher purpose of social and ecological justice for all peoples and all species. We vow to create places that nourish our deepest needs for communion with the natural world and with one another. We vow to serve the health and well-being of all communities.

To fulfill these promises, we will work to strengthen and diversify our global capacity as a profession. We will work to cultivate a bold culture of inclusive leadership, advocacy and activism in our ranks. We will work to raise awareness of landscape architecture’s vital contribution. We will work to support research and champion new practices that result in design innovation and policy transformation.

We pledge our services. We seek commitment and action from those who share our concern.

See you in New Orleans! LAF Events at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting

If you’ll be in New Orleans for the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, we hope you’ll join us for these fun and thought-provoking events. LAF will participate in three education sessions, close out our 50th anniversary year with an epic Benefit featuring live jazz, and present highlights from our landmark Summit and a call to action for the future. We hope to see you!

Research and Practice: What Does It Mean? Why Do We Do It?
Fri, Oct 21, 10:30am-12pm
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 271
This Education Session with LAF’s Heather Whitlow, Eric Kramer of Reed Hilderbrand, and Kate Orff of SCAPE features an interactive panel discussion about how and why we undertake research, how we assess its legitimacy, and how we might better transform knowledge into practice. 

LAF 31st Annual Benefit2016annual-benefit-226
Fri, Oct 21, 7:00-10:30pm
The Civic Theatre (*Ticket Required)

Join top designers and leaders from practice, academia, and industry for a festive evening with great food and drink, amazing company, and a live performance from jazz icon Kermit Ruffins and The Barbecue Swingers. Proceeds support LAF’s research and scholarship programs.

Women in Landscape Architecture: Pathways to Success
Sat, Oct 22, 11am-12:30pm
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 261
Moderated by Margaret Plumb of Design Workshop, this panel session features LAF’s Barbara Deutsch, Christine Ten Eyck of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, and Thaisa Way of the University of Washington sharing their personal career paths, while discussing the opportunities for female innovators in the field.

LAF Booth in ASLA Expo Hall (#100) summit-crowd-226
Sat-Sun, Oct 22-23, 9:00am-6:00pm
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Hall E-F
Visit our booth to help LAF celebrate 50 years, see highlights from our Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future, and add your voice to The New Landscape Declaration, our 21st century call to action for the profession. 

What’s Next: The Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future
Mon, Oct 24, 10-11:30am
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 356
LAF’s Barbara Deutsch, Frederick Steiner of PennDesign, Laura Solano of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Kristina Hill of UC Berkeley present highlights from this landmark event and reflect on developing a 21st century call to action to achieve sustainability.

In addition, Kona Gray, President of the LAF Board of Directors and Lucinda Sanders, LAF Vice President of Leadership will be panelists at the Sunday morning general session on Designing for Diversity/Diversity in Design.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Waste + Abundance

By Kate Chesebrough, 2016 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist


Life creates life by making anew and reconfiguring material. Today, we are covering our planet with garbage. We have plastic bobbing in waters after storm events and hillsides strewn with illegal dumping. Waste in the landscape is an indicator of the need for care. Its presence uniquely signifies spaces that have been forgotten, are de-valued, or are otherwise being robbed of integrity. We must counter the mindset and the material of waste with creative strategies.

Philosophy of Waste

Trash is deeply seated in everyday cultural practice and is the result of deeply held values. Assigned worth indicates whether it was wasted or time well spent, wasted energy or a meaningful investment of intention. The concept of waste is a black hole that blame, regret, and frustration can be thrown into. 

Garbage is a physical manifestation of manufactured materials with the eventuality of uselessness. The social and environmental costs of producing waste are externalized from the production of shiny new things. Wasteful practices depend on an economic system that prioritizes immediate gratification and maximum profits, but minimizes accountability.

Waste informs and creates scenarios outside of itself. Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter describes an “agency of things” that reverberate across natural and cultural systems. Waste is filling the landscape as it escapes the intended stream of material disposal. This is where landscape architects clearly need to act.

Political Challenge

As designers and landscape stewards, we need to have a seat at the table and exert influence during cultural, economic, and legislative discourse about waste. What if myths about the value of materials are kept alive by voices louder than our own? The opinion of the landscape architect is profound, as we speak on behalf of the landscape and the public as a codependent whole. Critical discourse about post-consumer waste means that it is no longer worthless, allowing us to re-identify with waste as both a concept and a material reality. That pause is the only place where ideas can be tested and change is possible. These are political acts. We all have a stake in this.

Design Solution

The presence of waste in the landscape is illustrative of how we can design better places and holistic systems. A thoughtful waste inventory reveals where it accumulates, what it is made of, and what it was used for. These patterns inform complex dynamics of cultural practices, user groups, topographic and hydrologic relationships, and how the site connects with others. This is an imperative design challenge, and our potential responses are limitless. We can lead the way to clean up the mess.

Toward Abundance

We can create places that hum with life at many levels. Our creative process must be generative if we wish to carry on. We must recognize waste as a political decision, as a social responsibility, and a material opportunity. We can accept this design challenge for the sake of the landscape. Together we will promote the agenda of an aesthetic of abundance.


2016 Olmsted Scholar Finalist, ASLA Associate Member, and SUNY-ESF graduate Kate Chesebrough is a landscape designer, artist, activist, and yoga instructor living in Ithaca, New York.

LAF's Barbara Deutsch Honored with Women in Sustainability Leadership Award

With great pride, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) congratulates our Executive Director, Barbara Deutsch, FASLA, who has been recognized with one of Green Building & Design (gb&d)’s 2016 Women in Sustainability Leadership Awards. The awards celebrate the achievements of women who are making lasting change and strive to identify, support, and give opportunities to future women in leadership.

deutsch-headshotDeutsch is among 15 executives from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, who will be honored at the third annual awards, presented on Oct 4 in Los Angeles on the eve of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

“I am so honored to be part of this group of such amazing and influential women who are moving the needle on sustainability from a wide range of strategies,” said Deutsch.”I am thankful to the women and men who have inspired and mentored me throughout my life to help me achieve in many ways.”

“As more and more women move into positions of decision-making authority and leadership, we can do more to support and learn from each other. The WSLA is a great opportunity to connect, share our stories, and hopefully inspire others.”

gb&d magazine presents the third annual Women in Sustainability Leadership Awards in partnership with the United States Green Building Council with support from the MetroFlor Corporation, Steelcase, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and United Airlines. The winners were chosen by a judging panel that includes Rochelle Routman of MetroFlor, Kimberly Lewis of the USBGC, Amanda Sturgeon of the International Living Future Institute, Angela Foster-Rice of United Airlines, Leith Sharp of Harvard University, and Chris Howe and Laura Heidenreich of Green Building & Design.

Congratulations to all of the honorees!

LAF is Hiring: Program Manager

parkingday-staffSending Arianna (center) off with a bang on PARK(ing) day 2016

LAF is seeking a highly-organized, creatively-analytical, results-oriented Program Manager to lead our signature Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and support other Landscape Performance Series initiatives. The full-time, 40 hour/week position in Washington, DC offers a first-hand opportunity to guide transformative research and promote “next practices” in sustainable design. For more details, see the full job announcement on our Opportunities page.

Arianna Koudounas, who served as Program Manager since June 2014, is moving on to work as a Transportation Planner position at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a nonprofit organization comprising officials from 22 local governments in the Washington, DC region. Arianna received her Masters of Science in Urban and Regional Planning degree from Georgetown University last December and is excited to put her many skills to work in a regional planning role.

We will miss Arianna’s poise, pinch-hitting, and puns, but we are happy that she can continue to champion sustainable landscape solutions and bring the landscape perspective to the transportation field. And we know that when we really need a fix of Arianna’s humor, we can catch her at one of the many performances she does with the Washington Improv Theater. Best wishes, Arianna!