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ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Honor Award. Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland. PWP Landscape Architecture >

ASLA Presidential Candidates Forum Question 3: Eugenia Martin, FASLA

If I were asked this question a year or six months ago, even one month ago, I would have probably focused on landscape architects advocating at the state and federal level on the importance landscape architects have in making a difference to the global climate crisis.

Then COVID-19 invaded our lives and forced the world to pause.

I don’t want to make this about COVID-19, but there are some amazing things happening during this pause. Worldwide, the air quality has improved. In many of the major cities in China, the ever-present smog has dissipated to the point that blue skies can be seen. Because of forced shelter-in-place in Italy, the turbid waters in the channels of Venice are running clear. Fish can be seen swimming in the channels and swans have returned as well. Even boars can be found wandering in the piazzas.

In the U.S., as many telework and indoor gathering has been restricted, people are spending more time outside, walking in their neighborhoods, spending time in local parks, or even just sitting on the front porch watching others go by. Communities are becoming actual communities again and not just some place you live.

SO, now what I see as the next steps landscape architects should take is to mindfully document what is happening around them at this moment in time. Take photographs of people walking and riding their bicycles through the neighborhood or in parks (6-feet apart of course). Write an article or start a blog on how designed spaces are being used during this time in your community. Develop an on-line class about landscape architecture to share with schoolteachers as they modify their curriculum for eLearningAND offer to lead that class for them.

Why is it important to document all this?

While there are great articles and research on the how landscape architecture impacts the climate, this global pandemic only provides further validation. When life returns to “normal,” landscape architects can utilize this documentation to Communicate the importance of developing neighborhoods with good pedestrian infrastructure.We can Educate on the role landscape architects have in addressing the global climate crisis by designing parks and greenways which provide clean air and waterways. Through Fellowship with our educators, we can introduce landscape architecture to school-aged children who will, hopefully, choose it as a career path. Lastly, we can Advocate To legislators at the local, state, and federal levels through this documentation what role landscape architects have in addressing the global climate crisis.

Ultimately, the steps remain the same in regards to what landscape architects can do to address the global climate crisis. We need to be mindful and utilize the ASLA mission to Educate, Communicate, Fellowship, and Advocate, and at least for now, stay six feet apart.

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