Field Day – Interpretation

“The aim of interpretation is not agreement, but understanding.”

– Donald Davidson

SESSION 4 RECAP: After spending the last few sessions on different ways to collect information, this session we looked at ways to find meaning in that data. Interpretation empowers landscape architects and designers to transform observations gathered from the discovery phases (inventory) into understanding (analysis) that leads to more effective solutions. We’ve spent the first four weeks on the process of inventory and analysis because all too frequently, designers skip straight to the ideas phase. While they may be approaching from a generally informed perspective, skipping the context analysis process rarely leads to innovative (new and better) solutions.

We discussed a variety of ways to sort information – using Bertin’s Visual Variables, thematic grouping, and several familiar graphing techniques – to discover patterns and ultimately gain valuable insights about the information. We then connected these strategies to the way landscape architects use Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We then discussed how to make these insights actionable by asking “how might we” questions.

MaggieSPECIAL GUESTS: Last week we met a fierce advocate for the profession, Magdalena “Maggie” Aravena. She recently moved to Chicago from Sacramento, but was born in Chile. Her interests in math originally led her to civil engineering, though she found far greater fulfillment in landscape architecture. Her professional career has led her to firms both large and small, with a wide variety of project types around the country (and world).

Conversations with Maggie are frequently divergent and we discussed everything from the things she finds valuable in ASLA, the landscape architecture responses to the current pandemic, and her recent presentation on “Advocates, Allies, and Stakeholders”.

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April is World Landscape Architecture Month. Field Day is celebrating the fun, the collaboration, the creativity, the friendship, and the inspiration of landscape architecture with campers and leaders from around the country. Be sure to check out all of the things ASLA has going on this month by following #wlam2020 and checking out their various social channels.

Activities: The activity this week built on the abstract thinking exercises and demonstrated ways that each camper can use their own unique perspectives to sort information and approach problems. We asked each camper to come up with a list of vegetables and then sort them by size, shape, and color. Lastly, we asked each camper to plot a two by two garden, using their own insights about the vegetables the selected.

IMPORTANT! As part of the camp, we continue to raise funds for La Casa de Amistad, an organization that importantly facilitates a community food pantry. As so many people are in need during this pandemic, strengthening the efforts of an organization that is already doing so much good amplifies their efforts. This small support is an opportunity for us to help some of the most vulnerable during this pandemic. If you haven’t already, please donate to their COVID-19 Fundraiser.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK:  Be kind, be brave, and be good leaders.


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