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The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) invests in research, scholarships, and leadership initiatives to increase our collective capacity to achieve sustainability and cultivate the next generation of design leaders. As our 50th year comes to a close, we’d like to thank our many friends, donors, and partners whose generous support helped to make this an extraordinary year.
In 2016, LAF greatly expanded its voice and its reach. Over 700 forward-thinking landscape architects, students, and allied professionals attended LAF’s unprecedented New Landscape Declaration: A Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future. The summit and its resulting call to action gained worldwide attention and have many in design and development circles echoing sentiments that LAF has long asserted.
After attending the Summit, Patrick Sisson of Curbed wrote:
“It quickly became clear the surface-level public perception of the job, usually limited to designing parks, wasn’t nearly broad enough. …increasingly, the city, urban populations, and the environment at large are the purview of this evolving profession.”
Martin C. Pedersen of Common Edge wrote:
“I, too, believe that landscape architects are uniquely qualified to lead the climate charge… Connecting to people and natural systems is what landscape architects do. It’s time we start using them.”
IFLA Americas President Raquel Peñalosa wrote:
“I commend the leadership of LAF on convening landscape architects to act upon the challenges today facing our planet and taking us to the next level of purpose and clarity.”
With generous support from donors, LAF is able to spur the profession forward with transformative initiatives like the summit and the New Landscape Declaration. The foundation also accomplished the following in 2016:
- Awarded $125,000 to students through scholarships, fellowships, and research assistantships.
- Funded landscape performance research to bolster non-profit organizations, community leaders, and advocates as they make a case for more environmentally friendly practices and policies.
- Awarded $12,500 in mini-grants to faculty to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance in design education.
- Launched the new $25,000 LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership for mid-career to senior-level professionals.
Please consider investing in the Landscape Architecture Foundation in your year-end giving so that LAF can continue to lead the charge and deliver innovative programs to increase its impact at this historic time when the services and talents of landscape architects are so vitally needed. Show your commitment and give back to the profession by making a tax-deductible contribution online or learn about the many ways to support the Foundation.
LAF is a tax-exempt organization under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your charitable contribution is deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
The 2016-2017 LAF Board of Directors began its term on October 21 at LAF’s Annual Board Meeting in New Orleans. Jennifer Guthrie, FASLA of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol became President, succeeding Kona Gray, ASLA of EDSA, who was at the helm during LAF’s monumental 50th anniversary year, which included an unprecedented summit and major capital campaign. Adam Greenspan, ASLA of PWP Landscape Architecture became President-Elect.
Past-President Mark Dawson, FASLA of Sasaki Associates returned to a role as Vice President of Finance, and five other Directors assumed roles as officers on the Executive Leadership Team.
- Vice President of Education:
Stephanie Rolley, FASLA, AICP, Kansas State
- Vice President of Research:
M. Elen Deming, DDes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Vice President of Leadership:
Monte Wilson, ASLA, Jacobs Engineering
- Vice President of Communication:
Richard E. Heriford, Landscape Forms
- Vice President of Finance:
Mark O. Dawson, FASLA, Sasaki Associates
- Vice President of Development:
Jim Manskey, ASLA, TBG Partners
This year, 11 individuals retired off the Board of Directors, in many cases after extended terms of service. LAF extends our sincerest thanks to the following outgoing Board members for their transfomative contributions:
- Susannah Drake, FASLA, AIA, dlandstudio (Director, 2014-2016)
- Deb Guenther, FASLA, Mithun (Director, 2008-2016; VP of Education, 2009-2011)
- Kristina Hill, PhD, Affiliate ASLA, University of California, Berkeley (Director, 2010-2016; VP of Education, 2011-2016)
- Jacinta McCann, FAILA, AECOM (Director, 2010-2016; VP of Communications, 2011-2012; President 2013-2014)
- Allyson Mendenhall, ASLA, Design Workshop (Director, 2012-2016)
- Forster Ndubisi, PhD, FASLA, Texas A&M University (Director, 1997-2000, 2008-2016; VP of Research, 2008-2016)
- Joe Runco, ASLA, SWA Group (Director, 2013-2016)
- Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, OLIN (Director, 2008-2016; VP of Finance 2010-2011; President, 2011-2012, VP of Leadership, 2013-2016)
- Laura Solano, ASLA, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (Director, 2012-2016; VP of Finance 2013-2014, 2015-2016; VP of Communications 2014-2015)
- Peg Staeheli, FASLA, MIG | SvR (Director, 2014-2016)
- Kate Tooke, ASLA, Sasaki Associates (Director, 2014-2016)
Thirteen new Directors joined the LAF Board, bringing a range of experience and perspectives from landscape architecture practice, academia, industry, real estate development, and the nonprofit sector. ASLA Immediate Past President Chad Danos, FASLA will serve as the ASLA Representative, and Bo Yang, FASLA continues as the CELA Representative. Nina Chase, a 2009 University Olmsted Scholar, was selected for the open Director position for past Olmsted Scholars.
Welcome to the new Board members:
- Gerdo Aquino, ASLA, SWA Group
- Kofi Boone, ASLA, North Carolina State University
- Rebecca Bradley, ASLA, Cadence
- Nina Chase, ASLA, Riverlife
- Po-Sun Chen, BrightView Design Group
- Dorothy Faris, ASLA, Mithun
- Skip Graffam, ASLA, OLIN
- Stephanie Grigsby, Design Workshop
- Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, DesignJones LLC
- Deborah Marton, New York Restoration Project
- Steve McCarter, ASLA, Ewing
- Roberto Rovira, ASLA, Florida International University
- Stan Wall, P.E., HR&A Advisors
During the three days of lively meetings and events in New Orleans, the commitment, passion, and thought leadership of this dynamic group was evident. We look forward to working together to advance the vision laid out in our New Landscape Declaration. Thank you all for your service!
Last spring, Elyzabeth Engle received our 2016 Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and Design, an award sponsored by the Garden Club of America to support the examination of gardens and their unique place in our environment.
Elyzabeth is a PhD candidate in Rural Sociology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment at the Pennsylvania State University and grew up in a Pennsylvania farming community. Her dissertation focuses on the community capacity-building processes and outcomes of community garden programs within the rural context of Central Appalachia, a topic that is both of personal interest and extremely pertinent to the social and environmental challenges faced by today’s rural communities.
According to the Grow Appalachia website, citing data from the Appalachian Regional Commission:
- Unemployment is stuck well above 10% throughout the Appalachian region
- Per capita income in Central Appalachia was just $18,722 in 2013, considerably lower than the national average.
- An average of 18.3% of families in Appalachia fell under the poverty line in 2013, which is 4% more than the national average. In rural areas, poverty rates jump to 22.5%.
- In the poorest parts of the region, poverty rates often approach 25-30%.
Central Appalachia gives a snapshot of how globalization and urbanization have impacted America’s rural communities, where extractive industries have left behind degraded and resource-depleted landscapes. Elyzabeth notes that the challenges typically identified as urban problems are also very relevant in our rural communities. Poverty, unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, environmental degradation, water contamination, and poor health are prevalent in these places with a rich agricultural past.
“These issues transcend urban and rural divides.”
“There is a strong need for further research and practice towards sustainable development within rural, natural resource-dependent communities, particularly strategies that take a grassroots, place-based approach,” Elyzabeth emphasizes. This is where community garden programs can have a profound impact. Such programs could prove to be invaluable in fostering economic stability, resilience, and social capital for these neglected rural communities. While community garden programs are well established within the urban context, there is a dearth of knowledge, resources, and research about rural community gardens.
For her research in this area, Elyabeth is partnering with Grow Appalachia, a non-profit organization based in Berea, Kentucky, which manages and supports 30-40 garden sites in rural communities in Central Appalachia through funding, technical and physical assistance.
Elyzabeth asserts that there is so much room for collaboration and stresses the value of a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling the human, environmental, socio-cultural, and economic factors at play. “We have so much to learn about and from each other’s expertise.” Different perspectives make us push ourselves to think more deeply and critically about how we can combat ongoing challenges related to environmental and social equity.
To honor our 2016 Olmsted Scholars, LAF held a series of events in New Orleans on October 20-21. Forty of this year’s 76 Olmsted Scholars traveled from across the U.S. and Canada, with some coming from as far as Peru and Portugal to participate. Top landscape architecture students are nominated to the Olmsted Scholars Program by their faculty for demonstrating exceptional leadership potential.
The Olmsted Scholars Luncheon kicked off the first days’ events, giving the scholars the opportunity to meet each other, the LAF Board of Directors, Board Emeriti, staff, and program sponsors. The luncheon program included an certificate ceremony and a short presentation from 2010 National Olmsted Scholar Emily Vogler (Assistant Professor, Rhode Island School of Design) who discussed the her latest research and prototyping efforts to both support and reveal the process of coastal restoration within the urban context. Presentations from our 2016 National Olmsted Scholars, Azzurra Cox (MLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design) and Casey Howard (BLA, University of Oregon), concluded the program.
Azzurra, winner of the $25,000 graduate prize, presented her research and on-going work to develop a vision for the revival of Greenwood Cemetery, an endangered heritage landscape that was the first non‐denominational commercial cemetery for African Americans in the St. Louis area. Casey, winner of the $15,000 undergraduate prize, shared her first-place team project for the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge focused on food systems. Inspired by existing drainage technology used in agriculture, Casey and team developed a concept for a living filtration system to restore soil health, protect watersheds, and preserve productive lands.
Following the luncheon, the scholars participated in a facilitated Leadership Conversation with LAF Board Emeritius members, discussing how to continue to pursue their passions, stay accountable, and keep motivated as they transition from school to the workforce. Through facilitated calls over the course of the next year, these conversations will continue allowing the scholars to share goals, stories and experiences with a network of peers. These dialogues are part of LAF’s ongoing effort to build leadership capacity and strengthen the community of the now 468 Olmsted Scholars named since 2008.
To round out the day, the 2016 Olmsted Scholars ventured across town for an office visit at Spackman Mossop and Michaels, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm with offices in both Sydney, Australia and New Orleans. The scholars met with firm Directors Elizabeth Mossop and Wes Michaels to discuss some of their current projects in vacant land management, stormwater design, and urban revitalization in New Orleans, Detroit, and Chattanooga.
The events culminated with LAF’s 31st Annual Benefit at the historic Civic Theatre in New Orleans. Olmsted Scholars mixed and mingled with their peers and over 500 other Benefit attendees. In addition to recognizing the scholars, the program featured the public unveiling of the New Landscape Declaration with a live reading by outgoing LAF President, Kona Gray. Guests also enjoyed live music from New Orleans jazz legend Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers.
Thank you to the generous Olmsted Scholars Program sponsors whose support makes the financial awards and events like these possible. Photos from this year’s Olmsted Scholars Luncheon and LAF’s 31st Annual Benefit can be found on LAF’s Flickr Photostream.
The 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 ambitious 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.
THE NEW LANDSCAPE DECLARATION
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 phenomena 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.