Category Archives: Equity

Roadblocks Remain

A survey sheds light on why midcareer women leave design firms.

By Timothy A. Schuler

Portrait of Maya Sharfi
Maya Sharfi, the founder of Build Yourself. Photo by Jessie Wyman Photography.

Rachel Wilkins was 28 years old when she got her first job in landscape architecture. Since graduate school, she had dreamed of working for a woman, but at the large Houston firm where she’d been hired—which Wilkins declined to name—all her bosses were men. Though she had “two wonderful male mentors,” she says she also regularly felt demeaned as a woman, passed over for promotions that went to male colleagues or, when the firm was called out for its lack of women in leadership, to women with less experience but more social capital. Her bosses, Wilkins says, seemed to “consider themselves the dads of the office,” a dynamic she says is omnipresent in landscape architecture—and problematic. “I don’t need a dad,” Wilkins says. “I need a boss who’s invested in my growth.”  Continue reading Roadblocks Remain

The Butterfly Effect

A memorial garden for a 12-year-old victim of police violence becomes a springboard for serving generations of children.

By Anjulie Rao / Photography by Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA

Volunteers and staff from the Tamir Rice Foundation greet visitors at the garden’s unveiling.
Volunteers and staff from the Tamir Rice Foundation greet visitors at the garden’s unveiling.

I arrived at the Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School playground around 11:00 a.m., just before the day’s heat peaked. It was a Friday, and students were making the short commute between the elementary school and the Cudell Recreation Center, located just a stone’s throw northwest. A group of toddlers had gathered with their teachers—likely a preschool daycare—along a bench that bordered a butterfly garden. Continue reading The Butterfly Effect

Better By A Yard

Prioritizing health and safety helps focus resources and design skills on rural schoolyards.

By Timothy A. Schuler

The redesigned play area at Chiloquin Elementary School serves both students and the greater community.
The redesigned play area at Chiloquin Elementary School serves both students and the greater community. Photo courtesy Trust for Public Land.

Until recently, when the children of Oregon’s Chiloquin Elementary School went to recess, their play equipment consisted of a buckling blacktop, a single slide, a handful of swings, and some old tires. It was so dismal, recalls Art Ochoa, a retired principal who grew up in Chiloquin, that whenever students went on field trips to places like Klamath Falls, “the first thing the kids asked was, ‘Do we get to stop at a park? Can we go play?’” Continue reading Better By A Yard

Book Review: No Green Pill

The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

By Sara Jensen Carr; Charlottesville, Virginia:
University of Virginia Press, 2021; 288 pages, $34.50.

Reviewed by Pollyanna Rhee

In 2016, Karen DeSalvo, the acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, noted that public health was in a new era where “one’s zip code is a better indicator of health than genetic code.” DeSalvo’s link between health and place underscored a pervasive and uncomfortable fact about living in the United States today: Racial and class-based segregation is both common and harmful for people’s physical and mental health. Continue reading Book Review: No Green Pill

A Star on the Horizon

Indigenous landscape designer Tim Lehman helps move a master plan and a mission forward.

By Lisa Owens Viani

Lush, Green Vegetation Around Ponds
Volunteers replanted the areas around three large ponds with
native and Indigenous food plants. Photo by Tim Lehman.

After Native Americans occupied Fort Lawton—today part of Seattle’s Discovery Park—in a peaceful protest in the early 1970s, the city negotiated a long-term leaseback of 20 acres of the 534-acre site with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. “The land was supposed to be given back to the local tribe from which it was taken, but that didn’t really happen,” says Meghan Jernigan, a traditional medicine program director with United Indians, which led the protest. “There wasn’t a lot of political support, but a growing, cross-cultural coalition made this space thrive and allowed for development of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center.” Continue reading A Star on the Horizon

Log In to Log Off

Virtual views to help overtaxed teachers see the future in nature-based play spaces. 

By Timothy A. Schuler

Screenshot of a virtual walkthrough by Muntazar Monsur designed
Muntazar Monsur designed virtual walk-throughs to allow educators to access high-performing outdoor environments. Courtesy Muntazar Monsur.

When Muntazar Monsur and his wife emigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 2011, they enrolled their then 18-month-old daughter in childcare for the first time. They were both starting PhD programs at North Carolina State University, and the childcare center their daughter attended was an early demonstration site of the Natural Learning Initiative, established in 2000 at NC State to demonstrate the importance of nature in children’s development and play. “She went to that childcare center for three years, and I was one of the parents who saw how the daily life of my daughter changed,” says Monsur, now an assistant professor of landscape architecture at Texas Tech University. Continue reading Log In to Log Off

Family Gathering

A Chicago garden calls a Black community pushed to the margins back together again.

By Zach Mortice

MKSK Community Garden Design
MKSK’s design for the community garden extends a Mauricio Ramirez mural onto the ground plane. Image courtesy MKSK.

Since 2009, a vacant lot turned community garden on the 4600 block of Winthrop Avenue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood has commemorated the Winthrop Avenue Family, the descendants of a group of Black families who for much of the 20th century were confined to this one block of the predominantly white neighborhood. “Everybody who lived on the block [was] not necessarily blood-related, but we were so close we felt like we were, and still do,” says Emilie Lockridge, whose mother was born there in 1925.

Continue reading Family Gathering