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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.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Jaz Bonnin, Heidi Brandow, Elsa Hoover, and Zoë Toledo walked through the doors of Harvard University’s Gund Hall, they weren’t aware they were making history. The women arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) with diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging interests, from affordable housing to the spatialization of resource extraction. Still, the women had one thing in common: heritage that stretches back to well before Western contact. Brandow is Diné and Kanaka Maoli (known more commonly as Navajo and Native Hawaiian); Toledo is Diné; Hoover, of mixed Anishinabe and Finnish heritage; and Bonnin, of mixed heritage that includes Yankton Sioux and Blackfoot.

The students’ arrival at the GSD in fall 2019 marked the first time in the school’s nearly 100-year history that four students of Native ancestry have been enrolled at the same time. It’s an illustration of the near-total absence of Indigenous voices within the design and planning professions. For Brandow, a painter who is pursuing a master’s degree in art, design, and the public domain, such experiences are all too common. “As a Native person, being at Harvard, or anything you do, you accept that you’re probably going to be the first, or one of a handful of people,” she says. “You accept that Harvard is 500 years behind on this. But you also recognize that’s an opportunity to get the work done. To create these spaces, to increase visibility, to make this declaration of our presence and the necessity of more recruitment of Indigenous people.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A lei by PBR HAWAII references the island’s dark colonial past. Courtesy PBR HAWAII.

As the receptionist for the Honolulu office of Belt Collins, Dawn Higa is not typically involved in design discussions. Her tasks, while vital to the day-to-day operations of the global design firm, tend toward the administrative: answering phones, directing calls, taking messages. It’s a job Higa’s held since 1987, when as a single mother she was placed at the company, which today has offices in multiple countries, including China, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, by a temp agency. “I don’t think I even knew what an engineer did for the first year,” Higa says.

But once every two years, Higa becomes an integral part of the team competing in Honolulu’s biennial RE-LEI competition, in which individuals and teams craft traditional Hawaiian lei—a garland typically made out of flowers, ferns, leaves, or nuts—out of 100 percent postconsumer waste. Registration for this year’s competition, which is open to anyone, not just those living in Hawaii, closes Saturday, March 23, 2019. The cost is $75 for individuals and $250 for teams, with discounted rates for students. RE-LEI was first organized by a group of landscape architects and planners in 2015; its proceeds support landscape architecture education and the recently created MLA program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM). (more…)

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