I found this rant in my files, it's few years old and I may have posted it in the past. If so I apologize for the redundancy. I think that this will get some juices flowing and interesting comments will be posted(I hope).
So have at it all.
Henry, I. remember this piece - I agree with absolutely everything in it (having just scanned the bullets, thank you - that should be everything, right?..). I have long not understood why we do not embrace ecological design and lead the way in the field - this piece you posted says the same thing, I think. But I also have never understood when government got to be the bad guy - in my first few government jobs, I actually expected to be treated with respect, only gradually learning that americans want to hate everyone who works for any part of government..
so I geuss my comment is, I agree with your Manifesto but I am ceasing to care..After almost thirty years of working for underfunded government positions, and trying to move the ball - I just need a new perspective. I am thinking that perhaps lawyers have a better ability to change our culture.Or perhaps I need to be satisfied with less than perfectly ecological....But all I really want to do is spend the rest of my life cleaning the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific..Why aren't there jobs like that for everybody?
That is my 2c - instead of global theories, I just want to pick up the plastic on my street. I want to understand and meet every single person running for office in my County, and vote for them from personal knowledge..My next car, I have decided, will not burn gasoline, if I go with a car at all..Maybe try only bike for transport..I just can't get most people I work with to care about the environment, or to like government - even tho they work in government..
Is this tautological - twisted in on itself? I mean, am I exposing myself as a careless government worker, that people should hate..whatever..Can't figure that one out..
oh well. That is my 2c..
Trace, why worry about what people think. You are fighting the good fight, though you may be drawing against the Lone Ranger or pissing against the wind, but you are doing what you feel is the right thing to do. We need more folks like you, who put their heads down and go forward, no matter what the obstacles are. If everyone picked a piece of plastic each day, the fight would be much easier.
Nothing to figure out, Excelsior!
Henry, a very interesting read. Sad to say I can't disagree with anything in the entire Manifesto.........
I just wish that when I was younger I had not been so niave to trust asla to keep the profession strong. My time and money could have been put to better use.
Thanks for posting.
Allen, I well understand how you feel about ASLA. There are a great number of folks out there who feel the same way. I wonder how many licensed, successful LA's who have not or have and let membership lapse, are out there. Tommy Church, one of hero's was neither licensed or a member of ASLA.
Guys like Church, Rose, Friedberg, Halprin were really talented and were in demand because they could communicate their own ideas in a very effective way...I don't think the the public was any less aware of landscape architecture then as they are now. ..the general public still does not care how special we think we are.....so, if you are a talented designer, and have a decent comand of the language and can spell better than me you can make a living. just don't expect anyone else to promote you or give you anything. at least that's been my forty year observation.
You hit the nail on the head. The word is talent. Either you have it or you don't. If you can communicate effectively, either verbally and/ or with your pencil, the work will come.
I remember when this was in LAM - an attempt presumably to get folks to reflect critically on the state of the practice; the responses from practitioners were more telling. As I recall, haven't had a chance to reread it yet, this wasn't much of a manifesto as much as a list of concerns.
I specifically remember my first lesson in landscape architectural design - we don't design objects, we work with negative space, which is essentially everything else. It kind of blew my mind at the time because I always understood negative space in the context of two dimensional drawing or painting and this moved in into three dimensional spatial awareness.
If this is the basic premise of our work, and I think in essence it is, then why is it a surprise that our profession occupies the negative space (and I really don't mean this in the emotional sense of the word)? Maybe we should celebrate that our profession is exactly reflective of our design process. Can it not be ok that we fill the in-between spaces revealed by objects and planes (architecture and engineering)? Must every aspect of human work have a name and a label?
I appreciate this manifesto - its a beautiful piece of writing - and they have framed the discussion so tidily. Its the complete package, but we work with everything outside the box. We can't be packaged. Don't fence me in, man.
I've always thought that the frame is the challenge and balancing the work inside vs outside of it helps make the solutions so much more beautiful. Where in the arguement are we bound by the frame and where are we not? And why are we asking to be boxed in anyway? What does it do for us? Does it change what we do? Maybe our modern role is to push back against an engineered world. Maybe we do actually need to occupy the negative space.
Great post Tanya,
I work in design/build and meet a lot of folks who have little/no awareness of what an LA does. When I describe space most folks get a real "aha" look on their faces. Once they get it, they never argue about my value to the project.
Because we work with "the negative" and the "big picture" so much, I think we take it for granted, and devalue it. It's also fun to mess with the engineers--it's so easy--when discussing curvilinear retention basins. At first they hate them, then they take credit for them..... :)
Wow, I completely was never taught ANYTHING about 'negative space' in school. I think that is a really wierd way to look at landscape. It is first a natural system, second a place for human actions.
Negative space? Who are we, Mondrian? Too weird. I think the manifesto emphasizes the environment, and our primo position as designers of the environment. Thinking of landscape in art terms, like negative space, seems to me to be part of the problem.
What ARE they teaching in school?
If our discipline is limited to considering landscape as "first a natural system, second a place for human actions" then I agree, landscape architecture is dying
The negative space issue sounds more like a way someone tried to get across to LA students that they aren't furniture and plant-pickers, so in that they would understand the bigger thinking needed. And that helps define what we offer beyond horticultural and contractor-sales type solutions. But I don't think it would fly as a way to explain ourselves to outsiders or establish our usefulness in their own language(s).
I had a post up earlier and then cancelled it, that said essentially "as long as there is a continued need for humans to inhabit a built environment that is placed within an altered natural environment, and if that can be served by a profession and someone is going to do it, there shouldn't be any reason for a total demise of the field." Wordier, but somewhat like the natural system/human actions comment from Trace One. Actually, I think we may be more at risk of dying if we lost sight of that.