From the Rethinking the Front Yard event

Participants marking their chosen locations from an outdoor sensory/site-exploration exercise on a map of the block
Participants marking their chosen locations from an outdoor sensory/site-exploration exercise

This past Saturday, we held an interactive workshop on rethinking the American front yard at the machinaloci space in South Berkeley. Weaving in elements of model-building, site exploration, storytelling, and memory, the workshop took a hands-on – as opposed to a simply talking-based – approach to rethinking what is a ubiquitous part of the American urban and suburban landscape but one that needs a rethink, given the growing and pressing realities of climate change, water, housing shortages, and an increasing turn towards our smart phones and away from face-to-face interaction. We had a fantastic turnout and heard and saw many amazing stories and ideas. Stay tuned for part 2, in which we will be working in teams to redesign a space that includes not simply the front yard, but also the sidewalk, parkway, and street. What could be a new interplay of all of these elements?

John Kamp

Rethinking the American front yard: a workshop

Photo of Levittown, with front yards
It is high time we rethought the front yard space

If you are interested in both the history and evolution of the American front yard and rethinking how we design and use this historically purely aesthetic space, please join us for an interactive and collaborative workshop on April 20 @ 1:00 p.m. at the machinaloci space in South Berkeley. Co-led by James Rojas of Place It!, Trena Noval and Ann Wettrich of Fieldworks Collaborative, and Carol Mancke of machinaloci.

To RSVP, click here.

Our western waterways

The Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena
The Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena in early April 2019

As you move further west in the country, water becomes all the more scarce, and thus its sources become all the more precious. Yet the relationship between water’s preciousness and how it has been treated through our infrastructure is really an inverse one – especially in California. While water is gold here, its sources, and the rivers and streams that carry it, have been treated like nothing more than garbage – the above photo a case in point, which we snapped while taking a hike through Nature Park in South Pasadena. While there are indeed many efforts to improve our stormwater retention, daylight channelized rivers, and expand rainwater harvesting efforts, we cannot stop there. It behooves us as a state to treat water as the precious giver of life that it ultimately is, on all levels and in all ways.

John Kamp

Does our infrastructure truly reflect our values?

A workshop James Rojas and I led at Walk SF on rethinking our transportation infrastructure
A workshop James Rojas and I led at Walk SF on rethinking our transportation infrastructure

The prevailing adage goes that our infrastructure reflects our values. Thus our transportation systems, with their high investment in roads and personal auto ownership, and low investment in rail and other transit networks, reflect our cultural propensity towards the individual and our reluctance to embrace a more collective cultural model. Yet what if this adage is wrong? What if the infrastructure we see does not so much reflect our cultural values but instead reflects the limited ways in which we plan and conduct outreach for our transportation systems in the first place?

See the full article on Streetsblog SF HERE.

John Kamp

Speaking at annual PG&E Water Conservation Showcase in SF

Prairieform's John Kamp wil be speaking at  the annual PG&E Water Conservation Showcase to be held on March 21 in San Francisco
Annual PG&E Water Conservation Showcase to be held on March 21 in San Francisco

We will be speaking on our work on irrigation-free landscapes at the annual PG&E Water Conservation Showcase in San Francisco on March 21. Specifically, we will be co-leading an interactive workshop on water conservation in residential landscape design with fellow landscape designer Kelly Marshall and Outreach Coordinator for the California Native Plant Society Kristen Wernick. All are welcome to attend. Sign up here.

John Kamp