Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reading, Thinking, Observing: A New Direction for L+U

Forgive my self-indulgent post, but my lack of blogging is not an indication of lack of thinking (and walking) - as my attention has shifted from following the various blogs (i used to follow many, and now have reduced this to around a dozen) and their myriad paths of discussion towards a more rigorous engagement with some literature, journal articles and  books to read and reflect.  This shift has happened for a range of reasons, including a dramatically different engagement in work (btw, running your own firm is amazing), exposure to a dramatically different sphere of influence due to academic pursuits (btw, higher education is also amazing), and a general decline in interest (exhaustion?) in the ephemera of the digital realm.

This seems a turning point in the content and focus of the blog, where capturing the zeitgeist (a common theme over the past three years) has become much less important to me (and has been picked up beautifully by a number of other bloggers) - shifting instead to a more comprehensive depth in specific topics.  A blog is always a personal reflection - and it's hard for me to reconcile this new-found focus, being a pure generalist.  Perhaps, I hope, this signals a sign of 'maturity'?  In that vein, exploration of major themes, historical origins, theoretical underpinnings and observations 'from the field' seem to occupy most of my time nowadays, and it's given my a wonderful context in which to think about landscape + urbanism. The source materials range from the hyper-academic to the more mainstream - including historical tracts to modern writings, including journal articles (which i now have unprecedented access to).

So stay tuned for some writings (probably not book reviews) in the form of ruminations on recent readings.  In addition to our upcoming group reading of the Landscape Urbanism Reader (Waldheim, ed., 2006),  I started previously (read here and here) but have finished the large tome Ecological Urbanism (Mostafavi & Doherty, 2010) including the afforementioned Urban Design (Krieger & Saunders eds., 2009), as well as two recent popular books: Makeshift Metropolis (Rybczynski, 2010) and Green Metropolis (Owen, 2009).  Some other books I've made it through recently, one quoted previous is the collection Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (Cronon, 1996), as well as The Machine in the Garden (Marx, 1964): Placeways: A Theory of the Human Environment (Walter, 1988); Human Ecology (Steiner, 2002); After the City (Lerup, 2000); Changes in the Land (Cronon, 1983); and Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (Banham, 1971).

In addition to books, I will intersperse a number of journal references into the mix, particularly as I continue to expand on my studies in ecological urbanism, historical urbanism & ecology, and methods for research (both social & ecological science-based) study of the urban conditions.  Any recommendations for key readings and sources that have influenced you, please comment - and I'm always up for intriguing guest posts on a range of topics. Looking forward to a new chapter in the blog and an expanded focus in my personal exploration of all things landscape and urbanism.


  1. RE: Mostafavi & Doherty, I believe the title is ECOLOGICAL URBANISM.

  2. The new direction for your blog sounds great -- full of substance. I hope you also, at least occasionally, continue to post on projects big and small, like your chicken coop, the rain gardens in Portland, any projects that you've done, etc. Your blog is inspiring as well as informative!


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