It’s been on my mind that I would start a blog about my capstone process this year, and here the moment has finally arrived, on the cusp of spring semester! Last fall, my landscape architecture colleagues at the University of Minnesota and I went through an extensive process to research and begin documenting the information about what would be our capstone site. We were encouraged to match our interests with a site that connected with our interests/passions/foci—in large part so we could and can sustain the work for over a semester.

The site I decided to work on came into my life because i was looking for a coastal site that would be challenged by climate change (sea water rising) had some connection with social justice, and was in an urban area. I decided to choose Newtown Creek, which popped up when I was looking at sites in New York and New Jersey that related to the aforementioned issues.

This week has been focused on accruing base maps and files for our first design charrettes which will be happening next week. Today, I began work reconnecting with the people I originally reached out to in New York to ask questions about the site. My next steps will be asking organizations who are working on Newtown Creek about what they perceive to be future scenarios for the creek—50-100 years into the future. I’ll be looking at the future-focused responses of the Newtown Creek Alliance, SWIM, and River First to align my design response to these goals—essentially connecting the dots through design from the present to a hoped-for scenario.

Before starting an email to Sarah Durand, a researcher who’s been studying the ecology of the creek, I wanted to know more about her, so looked up her information at LaGuardia Community College and came across a series of articles that I had not yet seen regarding her involvement with the clean up: http://ow.ly/sEZJk

As of an article in 2011 (perhaps ancient history) there were plans for wetland restoration along the creek that would be funded. I also read that Dr. Durand has been taking readings of the creeks water quality since 2009.

So, tasked with communication, research, and a portfolio to compile over the next few days, I bid adieu until next week!

Photo Set

In a bid for winter sanity, I went to the Como Conservatory/Botanical Garden, where I observed the dichotomy between our energy use/abilities and winter’s chill (the iced chain outside a conservatory window). There were tropical vines and trees, ferns, orchids all reaching green and glowing to the sky. Did you know that vanilla comes from the pod originating from flowers of a vine (which are picked by hand)? 

This Giant dioon caught my eye because of its gorgeous leaf patterns, and standing under it, the topmost leaf in this picture leaped over my head. Feeling inspired, I want to consider its patterning for design ideas.


Eco-Echo turned 1 today! So crazy! I didn’t realize the blog was going for that long–I thought that I began it when I went to Europe. Woo!

Source: assets

sketching at night on Franklin ave…the actually sketch is a lot darker than this image!


This afternoon, I had an Italian lesson with my new friend, Carla, who gave me, gratis, new insights to this beautiful city, Venice. She told me more of its history—another layer to peel back and unearth a design from, an imprint from humanity, make another swirling ring on my finger.

The pre-Venetians settled the outer islands Lido, Chioggia, Pellestrina, eventually driven further into the lagoon for reasons of safety (people could easily attack the outer lands) and fishing/nourishment—the inner waters were more easy/safer to navigate rather than the ever-changing ocean. Soil accumulated, volunteer plant species began to hold it in place, and with additional human stabilization, islands were built, dwellings were built, people made a home where there was once nothing but water. 

Strangely, the very means with which Venice came into being, no longer exists. The rivers that flowed into the lagoon, carrying land-forming silt have been redirected around the lagoon, diverted for this very reason (Venice will not sit in a meadow!). And now, the lagoon has been channelized, water flows quickly in places, carrying away the soils of Venice, eroding the foundation of the city. Perhaps, with the creation of Le Mose, great dams that may someday control the rising ocean’s impact on the city, the erosion will cease/become diminished. And the lagoon will be a…cesspool…for the lagoon must breathe with the tides. Will the lifestyles of the Venetians change?

Carla told me about a place on Lido called Alberoni where there was once a great forest of poplars (piopi). That there were trees planted on the edge of Lido that faces the ocean, and sailors marked their voyage home by the trees’ vision on the horizon, aiming ships to the spaces between islands. 

That the most important church was San Niccolo on Lido, where the Duke of Venice would go to greet sailors coming back from war and bless sailors leaving for it (or other ventures). 

That there is still a ceremony in which the mayor of Venice throws a ring in the ocean, marrying the feminine Venice with El Mare (gender opposite of French La Mer). 

The lagoon and the sea are tied, bonded, reliant on each other. 

And what of the design I work on, how do I honor and conceive of this space with its rich and unfathomable history? The lagoon a turbid aqua, something I have seen people throw their trash into, that the sewage of the city is channelled into, and yet still holds such mystery and promise.

There are no easy answers, only more questions, more poetry: a poem to answer a story.


and there is reason to wake/: these blue waters, this blue air/


It’s across the coffee-stained tablecloth that these dreams are sprawled about, twisted with such conviction. The petals of painted flowers, the patterns of some idyllic life somewhere far from here. I’ve strived to keep it steady, to keep my mind from wandering back across the sea. I’ve…

And so…the place we both inhabit. Thank you, Michael!

Source: hoursandinfinity



here is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.

And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.

In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.


This is so sweet.

Source: thegodmolecule
Photo Set

From the past week: travel through Zürich with a couple of hours layover, I bumped into the Zürich marathon. Favorite part of these pictures is that the black and white image looks like the color one :). Also…Florence, which I am thoroughly in love with…Venetian garden of Michele Savorgnano and the beautiful water entry of Scarpa’s design at Querini Stampalia. 

Photo Set


Italian “Spring” Break, Day 2 (Part 2): Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

19 February 2013

When the public transportation strike finally ended, we hopped on the metro and headed over to Vatican City to gawk at art like proper tourists. It was already fairly late in the afternoon by the time we arrived, so rather than spend an hour or so in long lines, we opted to go on one of the commercially-run tours. It was somewhat overpriced - more expensive than going in on our own, at any rate - and the tour guide moved us through the museums a bit too quickly, but it was well worth it in the end.

In any event, we saw some fantastic things! The Vatican museums are comprised of hundreds (if not thousands) of rooms, filled to the brim with Classical and Renaissance paintings, frescoes, and sculptures. And then, of course, there’s the Sistine Chapel.

My camera died partway through the tour (and photography is *technically* forbidden in the Chapel), but I was able to get some nice photos. Enjoy!

Source: musicoloog
Photo Set

Perspectives I put together for my team in a charrette that we did this past week, presenting on Friday. We had two days to put together graphics! I slammed through diagrams and perspectives and a section. My team mates rocked it with master plans, more diagrams, sections, and perspectives abounding. It was amazing how much we could create/crank out in a flash! The project was for my at the University of Minnesota, Cities on Water class that I’m participating in now through the end of May (traveling in The Netherlands and Venice).