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2022 Conference – Focus on Design – Thursday, February 24

Presentation Descriptions

9:00-10:00am EST

A New Garden Ethic
Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens

In a time of mass extinction and climate change, how and for whom we garden matters more than ever. Our built landscapes reflect social ethics and values that guide our response to reviving wildness in and outside the urban environment. How can we recognize and develop compassion for other species? What role do native plants have in opening us to the perspective of others? What happens to our society when we advocate for the equality and freedom of a silent majority? Through a deep dive into ecology, psychology, landscape design, horticulture, philosophy, social science, and over 100 inspiring images, we’ll explore the rich complexity of rethinking pretty and what a garden means in the anthropocene.

10:15-11:15am EST

The Watershed Approach: Land Management Like the Earth Depends on It
Pamela Berstler, G3, Green Gardens Group

This session provides a clear context for confidently communicating the positive effects of regenerative and sustainable land management on local and global weather, reduction of environmental pollution, promotion of biodiversity, and the overall health of the Earth and the people inhabiting her. The context, called a “watershed approach” to land management, is a framework for pairing science-based environmental solutions with simple land design practices to heal the planet without sacrificing beauty or aesthetics. These principles are effective when employed in any landscape – agricultural, urban/suburban, wildland management, riparian, and sylvan. Watershed-wise design emphasizes rehydrating soils by directing rainwater into the “Green Water Zone” of Plant Available Water, restoring naturally regulating water cycles and beginning the process of altering weather patterns to reduce climate variability. The imbalanced water cycle has a huge impact on crop failure, flooding, energy use, landslides, prolonged drought and more. Turning our attention to managing landscape water, allows us to achieve multiple benefits of reducing demand for irrigation water, cooling cities, improving water/soil/plant quality, increasing crop yield, and creating significantly more resilient communities (whether rural or urban). Balancing the water cycle creates genuine water and food security and creates a more beautiful and livable environment.

12:45-1:45pm EST

Ridge Lane: From Wasteland to Safe Urban Community Park
Nahal Sohbati, Topo-Phyla Landscape Design

As urbanization grows, the value of public open spaces becomes more vital. The City of San Francisco contains more than 1,500 vacant lots that total an area approximately half the size of Golden Gate Park. Social and biotic values of these scattered and down-trodden sites are underutilized, thus leaving voids in underserved communities. The Ridge Lane project is a revitalization of one of these vacant lots that has adapted a grassroots strategy with the goal of empowering the community to become involved in all phases of the project from visioning to implementation, giving them a sense of pride and ownership of their neighborhood. Meticulous analysis and incorporation of the neighbors’ feedback resulted in a design that celebrates their shared appreciation of Ridge Lane’s unique ecological and social factors. The metamorphosis of Ridge Lane from an abandoned wasteland to a community gem interweaves ecology, design, and social factors resulting in a beneficial environment for all of its inhabitants.

2:00-3:00pm EST

Wild by Design: Designed Landscapes that Promote Life
Margie Ruddick

Landscapes that are designed to be “wild” – promoting habitat, allowing for natural succession, but also allowing for domestic life for humans – are among the most intensive landscapes in terms of design and maintenance. This presentation will illustrate how the design and management of these landscapes toe a fine line between order and chaos. From a 2500-acre retreat in the Western Ghats of India to her own 1,000 square-foot urban garden, Margie Ruddick’s projects demonstrate how a strong design hand can coexist with a more wait-and-see ethic, one that works with natural processes over many years.

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