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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.
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 Benefit
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!