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TEXT BY SARAH COWLES / PHOTOGRAPHY BY DINA OGANOVA

The hidden dimensions of a city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the middle of March, I join a friend for a trip to Tbilisi National Park, one of Georgia’s 15 national parks, and a dense and parallactic forest of mossy Fagus orientalis, Ilex colchica, and Taxus baccata. We search the red-brown carpet for spring flowers: purple Primula vulgaris, chartreuse Helleborus caucasicus, and Petasites albus. We drive through rain showers to the town of Tianeti; we observe highway workers gather under marshrutka (bus) shelters for birzha, the ritual sharing of strong spirits and snacks.

“That does not look like social distancing,” I tell my friend.

We stop at the café in Tianeti village. “Can we get dambal khacho?” I ask. It’s a local mountain blue cheese, served warm on hot bread with ghee. “Shansi ara, axali kanoni!” (No chance, new law!) She brings takeaway instant coffee and cream puffs to the sidewalk.

As we descend the congested Georgian Military Highway in the Aragvi valley toward Tbilisi, hundreds of trucks straddle the verge and pavement, idled cargoes of produce and mineral water from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Drivers sleep, piss, pace, and make repairs; the normal delays at the alpine Georgian–Russian border, now exacerbated by the crisis. I dodge the oncoming cars and curse. On this highway, there’s no margin of error, no guardrails; driving is all wit, no wisdom.

“Don’t go out unless absolutely necessary. If you have a high fever and cough, consult a doctor. We wish you health!” reads an SMS from Mtavroba (the Georgian government). The streets are already empty of cars; only the buzz of mopeds prevails.

In Tbilisi, it is Gizhi Marti (crazy March); the lion and the lamb are fighting every day. Cold Caucasus winds slice the plateaus at night. I wake to silence and snow. Had the city cooled in the slowdown? With fewer cars and a decrease in air pollution, is there now new space in the atmosphere for precipitation? On the news, bearded monks in black Ford F-350s and Toyota Land Cruiser Prados circle Republic Square, scattering holy water in the slush to combat the virus; the first salvo in a split-screen battle over containment and cure, between faith and science, the church and the state. (more…)

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FOREGROUND     

Law in the Land (Interview)
The author and legal scholar Jedediah Purdy’s new book, This Land Is Our Land, sifts through
contradictory assumptions about our ties to the environment.      

Midas’s Touch (Planning)
Conservationists strike an uneasy alliance with a mining company that wants to clean up
and restore habitat near an old gold mine—so it can restart mining operations.

FEATURES

All Ours
A photographic essay of Washington, D.C.’s First Amendment spaces under threat
by the government.

After Extraordinary Conditions
With a small landscape architecture practice and a gimlet eye, the author makes her way
around the city of Tbilisi, Georgia, during the coronavirus lockdown.

The full table of contents for July can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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 posting July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “All Ours,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “After Extraordinary Conditions,” Dina Oganova; “Law in the Land,” courtesy Laura Britton; “Midas’s Touch,” courtesy Midas Gold.

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text, with English text available below.

BY JENNIFER REUT

FROM THE JANUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has many flagship programs, but none has quite the resonance and public impact of Landslide. Since 2003, the campaign has brilliantly avoided compassion fatigue by connecting at-risk sites around a single idea or figure, a strategy that enrolls the public in the notion of cultural landscapes without lecturing. Threats to the selected landscapes and features can come through development, lack of visibility or awareness, or inappropriate usage, and making these places visible encourages the public to support and advocate for them.

This year, the campaign, titled Grounds for Democracy, is organized around civil rights. TCLF includes “sites associated with civil and human rights, women’s suffrage, the labor movement, and others.” Joining other historic and advocacy groups in highlighting the 50-year anniversary of 1968, TCLF asks the public to consider the ways landscapes absorb and reflect our imperfect and sometimes violent relationships with our most cherished values.

Landscape Architecture Magazine is the media partner for the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Landslide 2018: Grounds for Democracy. For a complete description of each theme and project, go to www.tclf.org. (more…)

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The March LAM focuses on Charles Anderson, FASLA, and the long and winding road to redesign Hellinikon, an abandoned airport in Athens, into what would be one of the largest urban parks in Europe; the transformation of Long Dock Park  in Beacon, NY, from a derelict property on the Hudson River into an amenity for local residents, by Reed Hilderbrand; and Queens Quay Boulevard, by West 8 in collaboration with DTAH, turns a stretch of the Toronto lakefront into a multitransit, public promenade that connects the city to Lake Ontario.

In Planning, a plan for the Bayou Greenway Initiative by SWA Group weaves a network of new and existing green corridors in Houston. In Parks, a new park in one of the most diverse counties in the South responds to multiple wants through passive recreation. And in House Call, Savino & Miller Design Studio reimagines a small side yard into a lush jungle retreat. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for March 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 March articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Greek Revival,” Alex Ulam; “Alive on the Edge,” James Ewing/OTTO; “Leafed Out,” Nicola Betts for West 8; “Houston Best on the Bayou,” Jonnu Singleton; “The Call for Open Space,” John Gnoffo; “The Make-Do Shrine,” Steven Brooke.

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BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

The planting of jatropha could help build the economy of a haitian town.

The planting of Jatropha could help build the economy of a Haitian town.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

When I meet Robinson Fisher at a coffee shop in downtown Athens, Georgia, on a cold and rainy day, he hands me a bar of soap. Fisher and the soap have just arrived from Haiti: specifically, a village called Terrier Rouge, a community of about 20,000 people in the hot, dry, and very poor northeastern part of the country. I first met Fisher, the father of a childhood friend, years ago, and only later learned he’s a landscape architect. He’s had a long career with his firm, Robinson Fisher Associates, practicing in lush, temperate, and developed northeast Georgia. But for the past decade he’s made a lot of trips to Haiti, spending several months each year learning and working with people there on a variety of agricultural experiments. The soap, wrapped in plain paper and stamped with a simple logo, is the latest product of that work.

Underneath the wrapper is a caramel-colored slab, smaller than your average bar of Dove or Irish Spring, and less refined. There is no logo pressed into the surface, or a specially molded form. It is the product of a simple, locally scaled manufacturing operation in Terrier Rouge, which is evident in its packaging and shape. But it lathers and bubbles just like regular soap. Even more remarkable is what the soap is made of: the oil from the seeds of Jatropha curcas, a scrubby tree that grows abundantly in this arid part of Haiti.

Jatropha is native to Central America and the Caribbean, growing between 20 and 30 feet tall. The semievergreen plant sheds its large leaves during periods of drought, to which it is well adapted. The seemingly worthless and weedy plant is also poisonous. “Nobody eats it: Goats won’t eat it, and bugs won’t eat it much, which allows this plant to survive,” Fisher says.

(more…)

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