Pursuing Cultural + Earth Equity Together

Following George Floyd’s murder & societal rifts of 2020 and ‘21, our firm reflected on our role in dividing or uniting communities with public space. We began a self-funded journey of data gathering & engagement with a diverse focus group of artists and knowledge keepers from various backgrounds in our community to better understand the complex relationship between the land & people. A series of maps and speculative renderings show how epicenters of erasure & disconnection can transform into places of healing. For 2 years, we have mapped our research & tested how this vision can transform the public realm. We believe that this research is pivotal in the regeneration of the earth and demonstrates how landscape architects are uniquely positioned to address cultural and earth equity issues together.

Laying the Groundwork for Healing Landscapes in the Twin Cities and Beyond

In an age of technological advancement and environmental change, landscape architects are pivotal in shaping the future of urban spaces. Charged with answering critical contemporary issues, we hold a vision that addresses the complexities of climate change, social cohesion, and wellbeing in environments ranging from bustling cities to national parks.

We are the custodians who blend nature and urbanity, creating spaces that foster joy, connectivity, and awareness. Our expertise is in transforming aspirations and ideas into tangible realities, starting with digital designs and steering them through to construction.

Recognizing the land’s history is crucial for urban healing. We delve into the collective memory of our communities, honoring the narratives that have molded the city over time. The Healing Landscapes initiative champions co-creation of inclusive spaces, mirroring the diverse narratives and aspirations of varied populations. As landscape architects, we collect qualitative data, analyze space, and map out histories, aiming to foster healing dialogues and create meaningful places that reflect the many perspectives, histories, and identities that a place reflects over time for the many people who see it as their home or their relative.

Traditional urban planning, fixated on quantitative data, often misses the essence of communities, viewing them through a narrow lens of statistics. This lens sees broken circulation networks and land use, it can see maintenance level for an existing landscape and other physical or economical trends of a place. But this quantitative data driven view can miss the intangible details of human experience. Healing Landscapes introduces a qualitative layer, prioritizing building community trust, hearing community stories and working to understand how to support their layered desires and ways of understanding. Understanding multiple perspectives and aspirations for the land before drafting project briefs, ensures a richer representation of urban spaces and how they can both reflect and enhance the lives of those who live there.

Our method involves collecting stories, transforming them into spatial data, and developing design frameworks that connect those stories and places together. We interlace stories into digital maps, reflecting the significance of each location. Compiling research and various perspectives invites communities to engage, trust, and heal around the land. By healing the land and acknowledging the many ways that this land has been in relationship with people over time, we can better understand and heal our relationship with one another.

The initiative aims to co-create future landscapes infused with these diverse narratives, fostering inclusive and empathetic urban design. By engaging communities from the outset, we envision urban spaces that narrate the city’s history and promote a healed and unified future.

Our Minneapolis pilot project exemplifies this approach, gathering deep-rooted city stories through a pro-bono effort, with input from local artists and historians. This process, though specific to Minneapolis, is designed to be replicated. We believe it has the potential to revolutionize inclusivity in urban planning and landscape architecture nationwide, bring many groups together to celebrate their similarities and their differences, and create compelling spaces that propel us into a new vision for the future.

Collaborators/Other Consultants: Healing Landscapes Advisory Panel (names of the BIPOC panel members)
• Gwen Westerman: multifaceted artist, scholar, and writer blending Indigenous traditions in her textile art, literature, and teaching.
• Camille Maddox: a Houston-based author from Minneapolis, and a local historian from North Minneapolis, uncover hidden Black community contributions, sharing resilient narratives.
• Alejandra Peña Guttierez: director of Wiseman Art Museum, spearheads repatriation efforts, fostering Dakota-U’s relations through artifact return.
• Lajune Lange: from public defender to esteemed judge to Senior Fellow at Roy Wilkins Center, with extensive legal contributions and international recognition in human rights.
• SIeng Lee: Hmong American artist, organizer. Jerome Fellow. Designed “We Are Hmong/Peb Yog Hmoob MN” exhibit. Led campaign for Fue Lee. Advocate for equity. MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

For publicly accessible projects please include exact address. For Private gardens place write Country or State below.
Location: Minneapolis

Design year: 2021.

Year Completed: ongoing research.


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