Category Archives: Equity

Book Review: Gone Feral

A review of Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space by Matthew Gandy.

By Anjulie Rao

Cover of the book Natura Urbana, showing a wild plant on an urban lot.

There are more than 30,000 vacant lots in the city of Chicago—remnants of urban renewal’s disastrous execution and disinvestment. Where buildings once stood, acres of new life have emerged. Many of those empty lots have become overgrown—small prairies where remnants of building foundations peek out from plots of seeding grasses; thick, tender lamb’s-quarter; and purple flowering chicory. The lots are home to rats, skunks, raccoons, and the occasional possum. Chicago, like many postindustrial cities, grapples with how to develop these spaces, calling them wastelands. Continue reading Book Review: Gone Feral

The Team on Tops

By any count, Presidio Tunnel Tops had an unusual number of women in construction and project leadership. They say there are good reasons for that.

By Anne C Godfrey

Three women sitting on the ground at the park.
The Meadows, sitting directly on top of the Highway 101 tunnels, is a place to gather and enjoy the views. Photo by Rachel Styer.

An unexpected amount of rain fell on the Presidio Tunnel Tops construction site this past October. The rain was a mixed blessing; though welcomed by parched San Francisco Bay Area residents, it had damaged parts of the job site. Kerry Huang, ASLA, a senior associate at James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), the project’s design partner and landscape architect, said that layers of soil and plants were torn out of one of the embankments, despite the recent installation of erosion control blankets. Huang is a construction manager for Tunnel Tops, one of an unusual number of women who are project managers on this high-profile project. Continue reading The Team on Tops

How to Grow a Greenway

For New Orleans’s popular Lafitte Greenway, the plan was just the beginning.

By Jane Margolies

Man planting trees near "Greenway GROW!" sign
Volunteers help plant cypress trees on the Lafitte Greenway in April during an event that sprang from the park’s new Greenway GROW! management strategy. Photo courtesy Spackman Mossop Michaels.

On a recent morning in New Orleans, church parishioners, employees on loan from local businesses, and sailors in town for Navy Week were among the 130 volunteers who showed up to plant 100 cypress trees in a bioswale on the Lafitte Greenway. The city’s Department of Parks and Parkways had already cleared the site bordering the Tremé neighborhood, and staff from the New Orleans office of the landscape architecture firm Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) and a tree-planting nonprofit group had marked off where the 15-gallon, one-inch-caliper pond and bald cypress were to go. So the volunteers dug holes, dropped in the trees, backfilled them with soil, staked, and mulched. With everyone pitching in, the job was done in three hours. Continue reading How to Grow a Greenway

Banking on Borrowed Land

Balancing rural and urban needs, climate change, and chronic underfunding, the land trust industry is in a moment of reckoning.

By Erin Kelly, ASLA

An abandoned pocket park, prior to WRLC’s improvements. Image courtesy Tim Dehm/WRLC.

Land banks and land trusts have overlapping missions—stewarding land—but different frameworks and financing. Continue reading Banking on Borrowed Land

Sharing the City One Step at a Time

Activists, wanderers, and tourists find a common language through walking.

By Tim Waterman

As lockdowns eased in 2021, Hôtel du Nord led a walk in L’Estaque, in North Marseille, to the Miramar site, with the encouragement of music along the way. Photo by Dominique Poulain, Archives Hôtel Du Nord.

Matthew Beaumont’s beautiful book about London, Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, begins with a quotation from Ford Madox Ford’s The Soul of London (1905): “…little by little, the Londoner comes to forget that his London is built upon real earth: he forgets that under the pavements there are hills, forgotten water courses, springs, and marshlands.” Beaumont shows wayfaring as an immersive and connective practice and proposes that cities can only truly be known through the practice of walking. Continue reading Sharing the City One Step at a Time

Get Ready to Respond

$1 billion in funding to reconnect divided communities is coming.

By Zach Mortice

Landscape architects are ingrained systems thinkers and experts on how to balance infrastructure and the ecological imperatives of climate change, all while improving transit networks that bind people together. Significant portions of the more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill that became law late last year will be filtering down to communities, and landscape architects bring experience and expertise to these types of projects, including the removal of highways, streetscape design, greenway planning, and especially those projects that seek to address incidences of transit infrastructure exacerbating existing economic and demographic inequalities. Continue reading Get Ready to Respond

The Lab in the Backyard

USC’s Landscape Justice Initiative aims to give students grassroots perspective on their field.

By Patrick Sisson

Installing plants at a Test Plot site with USC student Yiyi Peng, studio instructor and USC Test Plot lead Jen Toy, and local resident Maria Arroyo, a member of the Abuelas de Parque. Image courtesy USC Architecture.

In 2018, after discovering that city arborists planned to plant Australian and South African plant species in response to a future of sustained droughts, the Los Angeles landscape architecture studio Terremoto launched Test Plot, a small-scale scheme designed to engage community groups in growing native plants in city parks and ultimately show that residents can play a role in maintaining the city’s landscape. “There’s a fear of maintenance,” Jenny Jones, ASLA, a partner at Terremoto, says. “We want to celebrate the maintenance.” Continue reading The Lab in the Backyard