Land Art Generator Initiative Lecture 2-19

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Elizabeth Monoian & Robert Ferry, Co-founders of LAGI. Photo by Joanna Totolici,  TOTOLICI.COM

Excited to share that artist Elizabeth Monoian & architect Robert Ferry, co-founders of Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) are giving a public lecture at 5pm in the atrium of Building 7 on Friday 2/19 at Cal Poly Pomona.

Prior to the lecture, they will be guests in my LA302L & LA402L studios that are designing entries for the 2016 LAGI competition (entry deadline is May 15th), set adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier.

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Site visit with LA302L & LA402L

LAGI 2016 is an ideas competition to design a site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it into electricity and/or drinking water for the City [of Santa Monica].  http://www.landartgenerator.org/competition2016.html

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The lecture is being co-sponsored by the Cal Poly Pomona Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

 

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AF Exhibit

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Exhibit Flyer

Days from the printer’s deadline for completing the exhibit and everything is coming together with the help of Jonathan Linkus and our great closing team of research assistants (Jane, Ernesto, & Kevin).

One change worth noting is is the public reception has been shifted to Tuesday, December 3rd, 9am-11am!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

ARID Journal & Aqueduct Futures

For this November’s centennial of the LA Aqueduct, two journals (ARID and BOOM) have special issues that are really cool read for infrastructure and landscape folks. Included in ARID are two articles using data collected as part of the Aqueduct Futures project!

Barry J. Lehrman, Douglas Delgado and Mary E. Alm, Ph.D.  Aqueduct as Muse: Educating Designers for Multifunctional Landscapes

Lee-Anne Milburn, Ph.D. and Barry Lehrman, with Tiernan Doyle, Eric Haley, James Powell and Devon Santy.  Contested Waters, Unholy Alliances, and Globalized Colonies: Exploring the Perception of Water by Residents of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Watershed

Grant Lake, (c) Eric Haley 2012

On a personal note, ARID Journal also includes my dedication to my late wife, Mary Alm who died after a 15 month fight with cancer in September. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to write ‘Aqueduct as Muse’ with her.

Mary Alm, PhD 1969-2013

Mary Alm (1969-2013) was my muse, dear wife of nine years and mother of our son. She died peacefully after a grueling 15-month fight with breast cancer, just days after we submitted the final manuscript to Arid. The week before she was stricken by an undetected metastasis, I was finally able to bring her up to the Owens Valley to see the place that is now the foundation of my academic career.

As the cool and calmly collected presence reigning in my boundless ideas, Mary Alm brought focus to my life and provided the inspiration that encouraged me to aim for the moon.

As a health psychologist, Mary gave me a perspective into human behavior that enriched my scholarship into urban landscape systems and sustainability. This article was our first published collaboration to connect the gulf between our disciplines. Writing together—often at her weekly infusions during the darkness brought by the cancer—gave us strength to persevere against the relentless toll chemotherapy inflicted and to continue to pursue our dreams of future endeavors together.

As a lasting tribute to our love, this article is dedicated to Mary’s genius, goodness, and grace.

–Barry Lehrman, September 5, 2013

Pleistocene Park

I’ve written about the Buffalo Commons (here & here), now the concept has jumped the pond to the Old World (or maybe it really originated there). The Dutch, at Oostvaardersplassen (featured in a New Yorker Magazine article that inspired this post) have attempted to create a simulacrum landscape of the 13,000 years-ago Pleistocene on a reclaimed polder (circa 1968). This is not Ye Olde La Brea Tar Pits, but a living landscape populated by proxy megafauna.

The Rewilding Europe Project has established five sites in 2010: Danube Delta, Eastern Carpathians, Southern Carpathians, Velebit and Western Iberia. Projects elsewhere include, Spain’s Campanarios de Azaba  to their border with Portugal, Lake Pape in Latvia, the Pleistocene Park in far-eastern Siberia aims to restore the Mammoth Steppe Ecosystem (they are attempting to clone woolly mammoths with Korean scientists), and further-a-field there is a tortoise reintroduction program on Mascarene Islands near Madagascar.

Oostvaardensplassen

Oostvaardensplassen [OVP] is now inhabited with proxy animals to those long extinct, Heck cattle (proxy for Aurochs) from Germany were introduced in 1983, Konik horses (for tarpans) from Poland in 1984, and Red Deer from Scottland in the 1990s). (Why not European Bison?) Birds and variety of smaller mammals (like foxes and muskrats) colonized the site on their own. But OVP is not wilderness, but a managed parkland, where dying animals are euthanized ’10–20% of the large herbivores in the park die from natural causes or are killed by humans’. There is no attempt at bringing back apex predators proxies for Dire Wolves, Saber-Tooth Tigers, Wooly Mammoths, or European Lions of yore that are really needed to re-establish a healthy ecosystem. Modern Grey Wolves are expected to reach the area in a few decades though.

Another interesting aspect to the location is that during the Pleistocene, it was dry land (see below) and became underwater only after the end of the last ice age. One other distinction of this project is that the site was not abandoned or depopulated, but was intended to be an industrial development before the spontaneous colonization by wildlife inspired the park.

Map of the North Sea with Holocene shorelines – Oostvaardersplassen is just to the left of the key for 8700 yr on the Southeastern shore of the Markemeer

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Tree Torture Labs

Two visually striking experiments are attempting to find out how trees will respond to climate change:  Sevilleta LTER, and Aspen FACE at Michigan Technological University. These science experiments invoke several recent landscape architecture projects, but are purely functional.

Sevilleta LTER

But we have to kill the trees to understand how they die. Not a lot of them, just a few.”  “We need to understand the mechanistic side if we’re going to model the effects of climate on a large scale, we need to understand why and where trees die. When we can do that accurately, we’ll have a shot at knowing the broader effects.– Nate McDowell

The experiments at Sevilleta focus on Pinon-Juniper woodlands of New Mexico and are subject to several experiments by researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science’s Program for Ecosystem Research).

To observe the impact of higher temperatures, 18 trees are wrapped in 15′ tall plastic cylinders with heaters that keeps the temperature about 7 degrees warmer than ambient conditions to simulate the predicted climate of 2100.

more images at NPR.org

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Parrots in the Persimmon

Just a short peak at my backyard yesterday morning, when a flock of feral parrots swarmed my (not-quite-ripe) persimmon tree for breakfast and made quite a ruckus.

IMG_0831parrots on the wire

This video was an excuse to start learning Adobe Premiere and represents about 1 hour of effort to get this rough cut. The camera was our little Canon PowerShot SD940 (my DSLR and Sony A1U were at my office), so pardon the shake and lack of focus…

The dark side of solar

The math isn’t adding up for the local economics of solar farms as reported by the LAtimes.

BrightSource Energy’s $2.7-billion Hidden Hills solar power plant in Inyo County was  first estimated to boost the County;s general fund 17%. But this didn’t factor in the federal solar tax exclusion on property. Fewer than 10 local workers get permanent jobs — just 5% of the construction jobs would be filled by county residents, who are likely to spend their money in Nevada – not Inyo County’s population center in Owens Valley. Improvements to public infrastructure like roads would cost the county $11 million to $12 million. Then in perpetuity would be  nearly $2 million a year in additional public safety and other services paid by tax payers. This reality contrasts with the rosy picture painted by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, who promised 1,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent positions, generating wages of nearly $550 million over the life of the project contributing more than $300 million in local and state tax revenues. Not much discussion of the ecological side in the article beyond the expected higher property values and decreased public access to land as habitat mitigation areas are cordoned off.

“We’ve got county residents living in cargo containers near the solar site, seniors living in trailer parks on fixed incomes — they all manage to pay their 1% property tax fee,” said Kevin Carunchio, the county’s administrative official. “Nobody is outright against these projects on ideological grounds or land-use principles. We don’t think we should have to bear the cost for energy that is being exported to metropolitan areas.”

Then there is the visual impacts:

“Residents will live as close as 600 feet from a heliostat field replete with approximately 170,000 mirrors encircling two 750-foot towers as their neighbor.”

BrightSource maintained that the power plant would not create a significant visual impact. Instead the project has been pitched as a potential tourist attraction, with its twin 70-story towers envisioned as a magnet drawing sightseers to the Pahrump Valley.

Carunchio — who is open to most plans to bring attention to the region — is skeptical.

“I can’t believe that people will drive the long way to Death Valley just to look at the Eye of Mordor,” he said.

Elsewhere in the Mojave:

“Southern California is going to become the home to the state’s ability to meet its solar goals,” said Gerry Newcombe, public works director for San Bernardino County. “That’s great, but where are the benefits to the county?”

in San Bernadino County, the $2.2-billion Ivanpah solar project will be proving a $377,000 annual payment to the county in lieu of taxes. This doesn’t cover the public safety costs.

Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to “crush” opponents of solar projects. At the launch of a solar farm near Sacramento, the governor pledged: “It’s not easy. There are gonna be screw-ups. There are gonna be bankruptcies. There’ll be indictments and there’ll be deaths. But we’re gonna keep going — and nothing’s gonna stop me.” …

“The solar companies are the beneficiaries of huge government loans, tax credits and, most critically for me, property tax exemptions, at the expense of taxpayers,” said [Riverside] county Supervisor John Benoit, referring to a variety of taxpayer-supported loans and grants available to large solar projects as part of the Obama administration’s renewable energy initiative. “I came to the conclusion that my taxpayers need to get something back.”

Solar development isn’t looking as bright as it was – but just contrast this with permanent destruction of groundwater, nearby resident’s health, and green house gas emissions of fracking and the negative impacts of solar still make it the best energy source (other than conservation) we have.  The best place for solar is on roofs and disturbed lands – not intact desert habitat There is a place for large utility scale solar energy development, but it needs to be done wisely, not quickly.

Solar power plants burden counties that host them – latimes.com.