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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Researchers explore the role of design in aiding a global refugee crisis.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

As a young girl, Elizabeth Brabec,  ASLA, knew her mother’s garden was different. Where the neighbors grew lettuce and carrots and cucumbers in neat rows, her family’s garden featured mounded beds of currants, gooseberries, and celeriac interspersed with fruit and nut-bearing trees. Everything was mixed together. Brabec didn’t understand the reason for the difference until she visited the Czech Republic decades later. Every garden looked like her mother’s.

That was the first time that Brabec, now a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, realized that gardens could function as an expression of a person’s heritage, a way for immigrants to create continuity between the old world and the new. Brabec’s parents fled Czechoslovakia in the 1940s to escape the ethnic cleansing that took place after World War II. When they arrived in Montreal, one of the first things her mother did was plant a garden, Brabec says, a garden modeled on the one her own mother had grown back in Prague.

For the past five years, Brabec has been studying this phenomenon, visiting refugee gardens around the world to document (more…)

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