A Walk with the Rocky Mountain Land Library


Editor’s note; a version of the below text appeared in the May 10th Walk2Connect Co-op newsletter

See also; over at Twitter

I had the pleasure to spend May 4th walking and workshoping in Globeville, with the Rocky Mountain Land Library; a 501c3 nonprofit co-founded by Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin. Two long-time employees of the iconic Tattered Cover Bookstore. Their “ultimate vision is to open Buffalo Peaks Ranch as a year-round, residential retreat center and library, while hosting additional programs and outreach through our Metro Denver locations.

The Globeville location is one of three locations they have. I visited their Waterton Canyon branch on one of the early High Line Canal walks, with Chris Englert aka “the Walking Traveler”. Last year I visited their location on the South Platte in Fairplay, to attend Re/Calla curated art and communal experience that celebrates the natural environment…the intersection of art and nature…the ethereal and tangible.” The Globeville branch is their current/main book storage/processing location. It also has a special ‘Walking and Trails’ collection/room.

Our group, led by Ann Marie, spent the first part of the morning walking along the South Platte. After foraging for ink-making feedstock, we spent the next few hours experimenting with: charcoal, terra-cotta, willow-flowers and more. Do you even know how to mordant..? I didn’t before, but I do now!

On our walk we encountered a rich urban ecology of flora/fauna: dicots, wild-rose and willows. Birds of prey, coyote tracks and hooded merganser ducks. We even saw signs of beavers rewilding.

As I read that day, Wendell Berry writes

“Think of the genius of the animals,

every one truly what it is:

gnat, fox, minnow, swallow, each made

of light and luminous within itself.

They know (better than we do) how

to live in the places where they live.

And so I would like to be a true

human being, dear reader – a choice

not altogether possible now.

But this is what I’m for, the side

I’m on”

Envisioning a new architecture of discomfort

This again is the role of architecture, even or perhaps especially in retrofits. To make discomfort desirable. To help us all find pleasure in a new causal chain, one that starts with the less-conditioned interior, extends to the less carbon-filled atmosphere, and resolves itself by tempering the inequity, exploitation, and destruction that increases with climate instability. Discomfort, that’s to say, is not a bad thing. We will be discomforted either by design or by default.

Daniel A Barber at Climate Futures II: Design Politics, Design Natures, Aesthetics and the Green New Deal via Open Transcripts

Q1 2020, in Places

Back in January, Liat Berdugo penned a piece about; her childhood, ‘The Jerusalem Forest‘ and afforestation as an act of settler-Zionism erasure and geo-politics.

Thus we read;

Zochrot asks us to remember: the state of Israel was not founded on a naked land calling out for Jewish stewardship, but on land already inhabited by Palestinians…the majority of KKL-JNF forests are situated on the ruins of Palestinian villages, in an effort to cover them over. 34 …KKL-JNF’s historicization of its forests routinely erases Palestinian inhabitation, because to acknowledge an Arab village, to recognize it, would mark a rupture with Israeli nationalist vision, which seeks a forest free of consequence, accountability, or priorhood.

Student protest poster by Atelier Populaire, 1968. [via Beaux-arts de Paris]

Then Shannon Mattern visited the smart-city-in-progress aka Sidewalk Toronto, which led to questions about what it means to “participate” in civic design.

One concern, “engagement theater“. 34

“Civic design tools such as participatory maps and community engagement apps help keep urban data and oversight powers in public hands. Yet those same tools can be co-opted by savvy tech developers who have mastered the techniques of discursive engineering…deployed as part of a public performance wherein the aesthetics of collaboration signify democratic process, without always providing the real thing. A disingenuous use of maps, apps, and other tools of participatory planning — call it mapwashing — threatens to undermine the democratizing, even radical potential of civic design.”

Finally, in March Lucas Crawford published ‘The Crumple and the Scrape‘ a personal “meditation on texture as a vector for genderqueer experience“.

As Lucas argues

It is well-accepted that we observe (and intervene in) the gendering and sexualizing of the visual through the symbolism of color. We must add: we can observe the gendering and sexualizing of the haptic via the symbolism of texture.” Further explaining “This is not a call to develop an architecturally-focused list of verboten terminology. It is to propose a higher standard of writerly self-awareness. When you turn to a metaphor (Gehry is a Kardashian) or to hyperbolic diction (theatrical, gymnastic), ask yourself: what do I really want to say? Moreover, why do I want to say it without quite saying it? What conflations or refusals am I permitting myself with this … coyness?

re: the Flight Path Zapovednik aka FPZ

FPZ was the first protected landscape on Earth combining contemporary sensing technologies with ancient practices of caring for and managing land across international borders spanning temperate desert, temperate steppe, boreal mountains and boreal coniferous forest. The landwe are each custodian of is not a fixed point or marked parcel. All of us own an equal share in the collective task of tending to a distributed network of grasslands, wetlands and forests that change with the seasons.

More via DALEKO

Black Landscapes, George Floyd and Racial Justice

Over at Landscape Architecture Magazine, Kofi Boone, ASLA published excerpts from a chat with Julian Agyeman about among other things;

Who gets to belong? Who has a right to the city? There can be no reconciliation, whether it’s First Nations people, or immigrants, or refugees, or people of color, without recognition. So what do we think about these two necessary concepts, belonging and becoming?

AZURE published Michael Ford’s (of Hip Hop Architecture Camp) clarifying Challenge to Silence, to both AIA but also the profession at large.

I will assure you of this: ain’t nobody interested in coming into a profession to design the backdrop of their own death! We all know architecture is more than bricks and mortar; your silence proves it includes Black blood, sweat, and white people’s tears.

Finally, Bryan Lee Jr., offered some perspective for CityLab.

The first step towards dismantling unjust systems is to clearly articulate a direction out of our malaise and into action. Here is the start to a path forward through the efforts of Design Justice and in alignment with the demands of the Movement for Black Lives.

Note: previously in Ground Up, Mr. Boone wrote about the Black Lives Matter movement, “how Landscape Architecture can better serve Black communities” and “how how Black Landscapes (could) Matter.

To wit;

What if there was a People’s History of Landscape Architecture? Borrowing from Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking work, what if landscape architecture were described with some acknowledgment of the dynamics of race, class, gender, and power? What if it were possible to see yourself in the mainstream of the profession even if you did not aspire to advance white culture studies?