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Webinar: Not in My Front Yard: Social-Aesthetic Barriers to Green Infrastructure in the Public Realm

Wed, November 2, 2022 @ 1:00 pm EDT - 2:00 pm EDT

Landscape designers nationwide believe in the many benefits of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI); but, for this strategy to succeed, the public must want these installations in their yards, parks, schools, and neighborhood streets. This session presents a study of public reactions to the appearance of GSI, focusing on rain garden installation within the municipal streetscape – technically a “public” space, but perceived by homeowners as part of their front yards. Public resistance to streetscape rain gardens can be found across the U.S. Some residents regard these rain gardens as “ugly pits,” while others think they “look great.” A community’s appreciation for rain gardens is critical to their cultural sustainability: negative reactions can stall and prevent implementation. The study interviews designers and municipal program managers of green streets projects in Kansas City, Missouri, and Montgomery County, Maryland, and builds upon existing research and theory transecting the fields of landscape architecture and environmental behavior. Data analysis reveals the drivers of public concern regarding appearance and potential design and participatory strategies.

Presenter Bios

Kate Cholakis is conducting research examining the intersections of sustainable stormwater management, landscape perception, and environmental behavior through the MSLA program at Penn State University. She teaches ecological design and planning within the Conway School’s graduate program, and her professional practice experience involves green infrastructure planning and design and ecological approaches to land management. Ms. Cholakis earned her BA in Architecture from Smith College and MA from the Conway School. She is a LEED Green Associate.

Eliza Pennypacker is a Professor of Landscape Architecture at Penn State University. Since 2005 she has conducted research with Stuart Echols on “Artful Rainwater Design”: sustainable stormwater management that celebrates the rain in a way that is entertaining and enlightening. She and Echols have presented and published extensively on the subject, including their 2015 book, Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater (Island Press).


Continuing Education Credits are being sought for this program. 


Wed, November 2, 2022
1:00 pm EDT - 2:00 pm EDT
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