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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABLE HAPPINESS: ACTIONS FOR INTERDEPENDENCE

BY RANDOLPH T. HESTER JR., FASLA

Today, and every day, we reaffirm our interdependence. We offer gratitude to those prophets who declared interdependence before us: from the ancients Isaiah and Buddha to Harriet Tubman, Rachel Carson, Stewart Udall, Grady Clay, and Karl Linn, among others. In their honor we acknowledge our responsibility to make places for life, liberty, and the pursuit of sustainable happiness. We believe that this can only be attained in the foreseeable future through an ecological democracy, a participatory government driven by systemic ecological thinking. This ecological democracy has been in the making for 50 years, 250 years, and 250 million years, evolving in mutual dependence from sea slime to the landscape of humankind. We can see our choice as living happily within our limits or perishing as ecological illiterates. We choose to bend this evolution toward sustainable happiness by committing our every resource to the following actions:

Community. That land is a community is the basic principle of ecology. It has been for eons. Today all humankind is tied together in a
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BY TIM WATERMAN

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

From the July 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A city like Milan reflects the strivings of generations. It has a rich quality of everyday life that includes a sophisticated food culture, which, as in so many Italian cities, is both distinctly local and, because of its history of trade, cosmopolitan. The evolution of the city’s form has intertwined with the tastes and appetites of the Milanese. The convivial quality of many of its spaces comes from enclosures such as its ubiquitous courtyard gardens, its cool semiprivate zones where neighbors come into contact, or its sidewalk cafés. Milan was once Mediolanum (meaning “in the midst of the plain”), the capital of the Western Roman Empire. It was enclosed by walls, but open to its countryside in the Po River Valley, where alluvial soils raised abundant grain and grapes, and roads brought influence from all over Europe.

Milan’s economy has suffered, as has all of Italy’s, from the crash in 2008, and recession and unemployment are tenaciously rooted. While its economy continues to be underpinned by industry and agriculture, notably by small, family-owned farms, government policy has looked to urban and infrastructural development for solutions to the crisis. Italy’s new, post-Berlusconi government is trying to show evidence of its ability to deliver, and Milan, the financial center of Italy, has become a showcase of contemporary neoliberal development. In particular, two developments have shown great international visibility: the Milan Expo 2015 and the business district at Porta Nuova, best known for the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest), the heavily vegetated and much-published twin luxury apartment towers by the architect Stefano Boeri.

Boeri has courted controversy at both sites, attracting antigentrification protests both from the working-class neighborhood the towers protrude from, as well as accusations of deploying expensive greenwash that would never be possible in a lower-cost development. Much the same objections have been raised against the plans for this year’s expo in Milan, which he master planned with Jacques Herzog, William McDonough, and Ricky Burdett. “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is the expo’s motto, meant, as it was, to embody a sustainable ethic, but it clashed with the presence of food giants such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola among the nations represented. Lavish spending on the project further excited anger, as many people questioned the concentration of municipal spending on one site instead of many, and the inevitable siphoning away of funds that such concentration engenders. On May Day in Milan, cars blazed in the streets, windows were smashed, and ‘No Expo’ graffiti proliferated.

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