Inspired by LAF’s 1966 Declaration of Concern -on June 10-11, 2016 – the New Landscape Declaration (2016) “As landscape architects we vow to create places that serve the higher purpose of social and ecological justice for all peoples and all species. We vow to create places that nourish our deepest needs for communion with the natural world and with one another. We vow to serve the health and well-being of all communities.”
The saying that ‘when the United States gets a cold, the world sneezes’ has never been more true than today. In this period of political and social disconnect I am reminded of the necessity of space in the city; to gather, to commune with nature, to engage with family and friends, to protest, to wander.
The need to experience and communicate outside of the self and the familiar (work, family) is the foundation of the diverse, dynamic, and growing city. Without the ‘other’ we retreat back to the familiar self. This is the necessity of space in the city. The membranes that surround our bubble of the self only become thicker and more opaque should this vital interconnection become limited, reduced, challenging and potentially removed. Fear, control, loss of personal freedom of movement and right to gather both in an informal and formal manner is the essence of the successful city and growing vital development of a city. It is the quality and usability of the spaces that we designers design through listening to the pulse of the city, the community, and the people. We must not design space from the top down, both literally and figuratively. We must not design looking down at the paper in plan view, but we must continue to contextualize the engagement of the users. We must remember to not tell the users how the space will be used, but to engage the user by utilizing the basic principles of design of repetition, lines, proportion, colour, transitions, balance, and unity.
It is a pleasure walking through the streets of Toronto the moment the weather gets warmer. Car-free Sundays in Kensington happen as soon the people decide. The music, the food, the smiles, and the connections. It is calming and engaging walking through High Park trying to find the Great Horned Owl. Bumping into others doing the same. It is comforting walking down the same street everyday and waving to the neighbour even though I am not sure of his name, but he knows me and I know him. This is the city and the space within it. All are equally vital, and all are at a premium. As our cities grow and become higher and more cropped it is imperative that we can keep that sense of district that has history and destination, and open space where humans and nature intersect, and of streets that permit interaction and connection.
As we move forward with 2017, I am reminded of how important Landscape Architecture is and role that it plays in the design of space in the city. I am reminded of how diligent I must be, and what an exciting time it is to do what I do. I am excited for the future and for my city.