Thursday, March 20, 2008

100: Seeds Revisited

Well, it's happened eventually. On this auspicious day, we post the 100th entry to Landscape+Urbanism. It has definitely not been too long since I got over my misguided hatred of blogs and got motivated (and inspired by all the others out there) to start my own. So let's revisit the simple ideas I threw out there when first proposing this blog (Seeds, 10.26.07):

"This is set up to be my clearinghouse of musings on Landscape Urbanism, Landscape Architecture, and Planning, Design and related subjects. I'm not really planning on this for public consumption, rather an electronic journal of things that interest me, a chance to write more often, and an outlet for thoughts. But if perchance someone happens to stop by, welcome and feel free to contribute/comment. ... My interest in landscape urbanism as a specific topic has been relatively recent, but upon discussion and further investigation, i realized that many ideas that i have been interested in over the years have threads in common with landscape urbanist theory, and really struck me as a vital theoretical outlet. My interests in general are diverse, so my guess is that the content will wander, but a concept like landscape urbanism seems to have enough breadth to accomodate a perpetual generalist."

So what do I know now after 100 posts..?

1. Well for starters, this is fun, educational, addictive, and useful. My thought process as a designer/planner/etc. is always to cast a wide net of information and use it to shape the places and processes that are developed. The digital media and access to, frankly, WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION, is both a blessing and a curse. I get scolded for constantly checking RSS feeds for the latest thing to pop up - then spend the rest of the time trying to piece together the remnants into a coherent thread. If it's interesting and compelling for people to read, great. If not, it's part of my process, and is perhaps uniquely legible and helpful to just me.

:: image via Synchroncity

2. There is a wealth of intelligence and intellect on a number of blogs - as well as a real feeling of community. And by community I don't mean the total wonderful utopia - but similar aspects of real life. Ok, so I've never met most of these people, but I feel like I appreciate and enjoy these daily, once removed interactions, with bloggers like Geoff Manaugh, Brendan Crain, and Alexander Trevi to name a few - as well as some locals I respect and enjoy chatting, both virtually (Brice Maryman) or over a beer (Dave Elkin). I get jealous when someone posts something profound or finds something amazing... but I get over it. Either way, it constantly amazes me the information and knowledge available amidst the clutter.

:: image via Curbed

3. As you may have noticed, I REALLY like buildings with plants on/in them... and I also like photos and more likely renderings of said buildings - even really bad ones like the one below. Much of this is happening in Europe and Asia, and thus I am simultaneously planning a comprehensive world tour to touch and interact with said buildings as well. Much of this is happening on paper as well. I also really enjoy taking these ideas and integrating them into projects in my work. Someday perhaps I can collaborate with Ken Yeang or Jean Nouvel... guys?

:: image via Curbed

4. I appreciate large-scale planning, and (as BLDGBLOG et. al) coin the term - landscape futures. Through interesting eco-planning, mapping, urban agriculture and visually stunning competitions these concepts impact cities and mesh together landscape and urbanism in new and exciting ways. The idea of urbanism, versus say city planning - is an important distinction. Open that dusty document and look at what is proposed - that's city planning. Step outside - that's urbanism. And, obviously, urbanism sounds (and is) much, much cooler.

:: image via Pruned

5. All of this has made me a better professional. I often think of Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote an essay every month for many years. I've wanted to do this for a long time - as writing tends to be a way of understanding what's going on in the world, and also what's going on in my head. I made it a point from the start of 2008 that I would try to write something every day. This doesn't mean cutting and pasting from elsewhere, but to actually write something original. So I've been mildly successful - but in terms of taking the influx of information and filtering it into something occasionally interesting, that's been fun.

So for the future, a few ideas:

  • I will try to span both intelligent dialogue with readability, in most cases using the words of much better writers than myself to illustrate points.
  • I will continue to post from a wide range of sources, and it will probably stay relatively true to the initial seed, as well as evolve. Currently, I am fascinated with urban agriculture, ecological planning, and vegetated architecture. This is enough for a lifetime.
  • I will try to write better... but if you really could see inside my head and take a gander at what's churning around in there, you'd appreciate the relative clarity that comes out into the text. And INHO, pictures maybe don't equal 1000 words, but make the writing so much better.
  • I will keep going until I do run out of things to talk about, even when I get that book deal like Geoff at BLDGBLOG did. Give me a year or two, it's gonna be a great book.
Thanks to all who have read, and keep doing so... it's 200 or so of you a day (that's unexpected). So keep it up, even if you are just looking at the eye candy or laughing at my late-night bad grammar. Please comment/correct/comiserate or anything else. Because we know dialogue makes us better. Tell your friends. Or better yet, go outside and take a walk. I will too - I'm beginning to get that late winter PNW pallor that isn't too healthy.

The best thing about seeds is you plant them, nurture them, and watch them grow. Also you are constantly surprised by the way they take on a life of their own. Furthermore, you can harvest from these seeds, and continually sustain and expand the growth.

This is how I feel about the first 100 posts. It's really just a start.


  1. Hi, i have just stumbled across your blog recently, and find it fascinating. I am a landscape architect and planner and it amazes me how so many people in the profession do not embrace new technologies such as RSS and Blogging to further their knowledge and understanding of the built world. You blog in particular has some very progressive thoughts on graphics, which is a huge passion of mine, and i find the writing to be un-pretentious, which is very rare in the architectural writing world. So, i just wanted to say thanks for the hard work and i will be busy catching up on your earlier posts - eRic

  2. j-

    next time you're up in seattle, we'll have to grab a drink so that i can join the elgin ranks;-) nice work on 100 posts

  3. Sounds good B!
    Always good for a beer.

  4. Man, talk about prolific! 100 posts in three months is pretty damned good, especially when you consider the fact that all L+U posts are thoughtful and photo-rich. Excellent stuff. I look forward to the 200-post mark. :-)

  5. Hey Brendan.
    I totally missed the comment - thanks! And again thanks for the very great inspiration from your heady posts on the Where. What I cover with photos you handle with words so smoothly. One of the reasons I got over my fear of the blog and learning to love the media.


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