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Posts Tagged ‘ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE’

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

DurkTalsma/iStock by Getty Images.

Development as usual is not cutting it in the era of climate change. A new interdisciplinary report released this morning by the American Society of Landscape Architects calls on public officials and private interests both to transform the ways they plan, design, and build at all scales to counter climate change, and it asserts that the most fundamental and potent mitigation policies and strategies are based in landscape solutions.

ASLA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience comprised 10 professionals—five of them landscape architects—who produced a slate of recommended policies and planning solutions to guide national and local leaders, as well as private-sector decision makers as they work to address climate change in several specific development arenas. That includes the protection of (more…)

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Produced and directed by Austin Allen, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, Claiming Open Spaces is a documentary on the perception of parks, in cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, from the cultural perspective of the African Americans who use them. As noted by a young Walter Hood, ASLA, the cultural makeup of the communities that use city parks is often left out of planning and programming, which can alienate the people meant to use them. This lapse comes up in interviews with residents who fondly remember a neighborhood park before it was redesigned and with kids who wonder why they are constantly hounded by police for simply enjoying time in the park.

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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Diane Jones Allen works to put public spaces and neighborhoods back together in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Diane Jones Allen works to put public spaces and neighborhoods back together in post-Katrina New Orleans.

From the November 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, at a community garden baking in the March sun, some herbs struggle up out of cinder block planters, and irrigation lines snake through the beds, which are awaiting springtime seeds. On the side of a toolshed is a big chalkboard announcing an evening movie screening and other community events. In the shade of a wooden arbor, Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, is meeting with Jenga Mwendo, the director of the Backyard Gardeners Network, which runs the garden. They are discussing not this place, the Guerrilla Garden, but the vacant city block across the street. Mwendo wants to claim it as community space, and Jones Allen is helping her envision what that might look like.

Jones Allen starts up her laptop on the wooden picnic table and presents a few sketches: plastic crates repurposed as small gardens, movable tables on a gravel bed, a pile of tires as a play area. That last idea intrigues Mwendo. “I just came across a pile of tires,” she says. “I’m just trying to remember where I saw that. There are lots of tires in this neighborhood.” She says she could probably make that happen right away, and it would offer some more options for Kids’ Club, an after-school program at the Guerrilla Garden. As Jones Allen presents her ideas, (more…)

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September’s LAM focuses on three issues in the world of education, including the questions surrounding the development of online landscape architecture degrees, the inclusion of concerns about social equity for the future of the profession, and the debate over the conversion of five-year BLA programs to four. And a rather grand renovation of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, campus by PFS Studio shows how the designers inject a modern attitude into a basic Beaux-Arts plan.

In this month’s departments, the city of Austin undertakes some creative master planning of four municipal cemeteries to combine history with a revenue source for future maintenance; Future Green Studio in Brooklyn is  designing with weeds; and two water-focused landscape designs involving Atelier Dreiseitl stress the need for an understanding of local ecology. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for September can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating September articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Learning Curves,” Hover Collective; “Graveyard Shift,” McDoux Preservation; “In the Weeds,” Tod Seelie; “Keep it Up,” Atelier Dreiseitl.

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PPN_Environmental Justice_Icon

Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are great resources for members of ASLA. The 20 networks represent the diversity of topics important to the practice of landscape architecture, and each provides the opportunity to share information with other members connected to that particular network. The concerns of the newest network, Environmental Justice, have recently been much on the minds of practitioners and educators alike in new and evolving ways, reflecting design professionals’ desire to help right current social injustices that are knowingly, and unknowingly, inflicted upon others. And it is a topic that some practitioners feel should be more integrated in today’s practice.

Kathleen King, Associate ASLA, a landscape designer at Design Workshop in Denver, is a co-chair of the Environmental Justice PPN. “Landscape architects have a really important role in the sociology of places,” King says. The other co-chair is Julie Stevens, assistant professor of landscape architecture at Iowa State University. “There are a few design firms dedicated to… environmental justice, and then there’s everybody else. And I think that this is not a topic that has to be exclusive to a certain number of firms… I think everybody needs to start embracing these projects,” Stevens says.

King spoke on a panel about social justice at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver, along with Diane Jones Allen, ASLA; Kurt D. Culbertson, FASLA; Randolph T. Hester Jr., FASLA; and Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA. They talked about the role of environmental justice in their careers. The response was overwhelming; students and professionals alike inundated them with requests for more information. “We’re going to figure out what this really means for landscape architecture,” King says.

Members of ASLA can join one Professional Practice Network for free, with a yearly charge of $15 added for each additional network. For more information on the new Environmental Justice and other PPNs, visit ASLA’s PPN website.

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PHOTOS AND TEXT BY TOM STOELKER

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Students stop to take a group photo on their environmental justice tour in Hunts Point.

Last November, Charles Orgbon, the 19-year-old founder and CEO of Greening Forward, was in New York City to organize the annual International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit. Outside his hotel near Times Square, he heard helicopters, sirens, and chanting. People were streaming onto the streets shouting, “Black lives matter!”

Earlier that day, Orgbon had been at the Point, a community center in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, the nation’s poorest congressional district. He met with teen leaders from ACTION, a group working on social and environmental justice issues. They took a selfie. Later that night, with frustration flowing through the streets of midtown, he studied the image, trying to make sense of the day.

(more…)

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Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

The plans for Taksim Square released last Fall by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

The bloody protests in Turkey aren’t just about urban design, but it was a plan to redesign Taksim Square that sparked the original demonstrations.  You may wonder what sort of plans could spark such a passionate response. Well, we’ve embedded animations from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s website to show you.

In February 2012, the city released the animation below. The video begins with an aerial shot of Taksim Square as it is today, with many mature trees, and then shows the barren pedestrian zone that was initially set to replace it. The plans call for the reconstruction of a historic barracks that was to serve as a shopping mall and cultural destination, and almost all of the greenery was to be enclosed within this structure. These plans were by far the most widely circulated on the internet and are the only plans that show up on the municipality’s YouTube channel. (Update, June 6th: These plans have been removed from the municipality’s YouTube channel, but we have found another link to them.)

Apparently, the government got the message that those plans would not do for one of Istanbul’s most prominent open spaces. But instead of engaging with the public, the municipality released these slightly edited plans last October—on the same day it announced that construction would begin. The plans, which the municipality was showing off as recently as Saturday, break up some of the vast stretches of paving with panels of grass but the space they show is still quite inhumanely scaled with benches surrounded by fields of pavement and none of the shade the square previously provided.

There was also little effort to get out word to people living and working nearby about how the plans would affect them. In November 2012, the Hürriyet Daily News reported that some shopkeepers were surprised to discover their businesses had been permanently blocked off overnight when construction began on the underpasses. “Nobody informed us about this,” one shopkeeper said. “Yesterday morning they came and built this wall in front of my kiosk. It blocks my doorway, light and air.” By early May, more than half the project was actually constructed. The protests last week were a last-ditch effort to save the trees that still remained in a part of the area known as Gezi Park.

The Atlantic Cities has a reporter in Istanbul who interviewed Betül Tanbay, one of the activists who was protesting the park’s destruction. “We tried to have a dialogue with the municipality,” she said. “We didn’t say that nothing should be changed [at Taksim]. We said, let’s discuss it together. As citizens, we deserve to be part of the plans — we don’t want them to be made behind doors and declared during construction.”

Yesterday, the Hürriyet Daily News reported that  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğanhad backed off plans for a shopping mall on the site, but still plans to  remove the existing park and build something there. “You cannot make an AVM [shopping mall] familiar to the international ones in this area,” Erdoğan said. “There is no conclusive AVM project here. Maybe we will make a city museum there or an architectural work that will put different activities in place. Is there any certain document? No.”

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