New visual work

New visual work by Prairieform's John Kamp
Third of four.
New visual work by John Kamp of Prairieform
Second of four.
New visual work by John Kamp of Prairieform
Fourth of four.
Cover for new DJ set by Prairieform's DJ alter-ego, Johnnycakes.
First of four. Cover for new DJ set by Prairieform’s DJ alter-ego, Johnnycakes.

A few examples of the visual work I have been working on. I’ve made a conscious decision to push the work away from collage – a medium I’ve become too comfortable with, and, well, a medium that has just become too ubiquitous in this day and age. These new compositions are the result of a combination of chance and intention – perhaps reflecting the subconscious and the conscious experiences of the world. DJ set for the one just above in the works.

John Kamp

Transportation design and its failure to consider user experience

The caged-in walkway from Coliseum BART to the Amtrak station as experienced by John Kamp and Ian Griffiths
The caged-in walkway from Coliseum BART to the Amtrak station

See our recent video/blog collaboration with Ian Griffiths of Seamless Bay Area on the abysmal experience of making connections between transportation systems and lines within the Bay Area. In this case, we profiled the experience of transferring from Coliseum BART to the Coliseum Amtrak station. Mild spoiler alert: the transfer experience is beyond lousy – and, frankly, unsafe. Watch the video and read more HERE.

We’ve signed a book contract!

Prairieform's John Kamp and James Rojas of Place It! have just signed a book contract with Island Press!
Prairieform’s John Kamp and James Rojas of Place It! have just signed a book contract with Island Press!

Yep, it’s official: we’re writing a book – along with James Rojas of Place it! The book’s topic will, in a nutshell, be about creative, hands-on, and sensory-based ways of doing community engagement for urban design, landscape, and planning projects. We’re at an all-hands-on-deck moment with so many issues in our country and world at this point and time, so engaging everyone in the process – regardless of background, language ability, culture – is critical. More details as they come.

-John Kamp

Project #ButterflyRedux

Some of the plants that will form the backbone of the Prairieform #ButterflyRedux landscape
Some of the plants that will be forming the backbone of the #ButterflyRedux landscape

In the realm of authentically exciting news, we’ve begun work on our newest landscape project, dubbed the #ButterflyRedux and which involves retooling and reworking what has amounted to a well-intentioned but hot-mess-looking butterfly garden. Of course, never ones to just plant something pretty and call it a day, the #ButterflyRedux project is a thoroughly two-layered endeavor:

Layer 1: Explore how self-sowing native plants and more tried-but-true garden stalwarts and cultivars can be combined within one – ideally harmonious – landscape.

Layer 2: Serve as a US- and Minnesota-based research site as part of English writer and plantsman Noel Kingsbury’s ongoing and extremely important work on how such landscapes of self-sowing plants and what I will call “stay-in-place” cultivars evolve over time.

Over the next week, we will be retooling the existing landscape and giving it some good bones (see some of those bones in the photo above), and then we will be laying a grid atop the finished product to then document the species and location of every plant within the space. This grid we will then be laying over the landscape every spring to see how the composition of the landscape evolves over time. Kingsbury’s (and by extension our) intention is to really explore and observe how horticulture and ecology intermingle in such a landscape, and then to generate a set of data and observations on how dense plantings can reach a sort of natural equilibrium that maximizes visual heft and impact, creates a carbon-capturing ground cover, and minimizes maintenance.

Notes from the planning stages of the Prairieform #ButterflyRedux Project
Notes from the planning stages of the #ButterflyRedux Project

Pertaining to Layer 1: Heretofore, many a wildlife garden has been treated as seeming sacrifice for a cause: who cares if it looks weedy, as it’s doing so much good for the world? Additionally, mixing cultivars into a native-plant landscape has been seen as somehow “weakening” the value of the space. We are thoroughly of the opinion that wildlife appeal and aesthetics shouldn’t and don’t need to be mutually exclusive but that achieving this two-pronged landscape requires mixing cultivars with native plants. As such, we will be exploring what techniques can be employed with varying shapes, colors, textures, and forms to create a landscape that can read as an intentional garden space on the one hand, and as an actual attractor of wildlife on the other. Our ultimate aim of this endeavor is to generate a series of key principles and how-tos for creating a new kind of wildlife-friendly garden that is rooted as much in human psychology and how we perceive landscapes and space and their intentionality and beauty as it is in attracting the beneficial insects and critters that we are increasingly realizing are integral to the overall health of our world.

You may read further blog posts/updates on the project HERE and/or follow the work on Instagram.

Noel Kingsbury’s blog site can be found HERE.

John Kamp

What else does irrigation-free look like six years later?

The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should
The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should

Just another photo from our visit to the first irrigation-free landscape six years later. It was so fascinating to see how the landscape had taken on a life of its own, and how the wild and exuberant self-sowing plants had mixed in with the more stay-in-place cultivated ones. There were even new arrivals to the landscape that weren’t weeds, something we had never seen before. Anyway, happy Friday.

-John Kamp