. . . Dalhousie University Convocation Address continued
You have just heard my life trajectory as a sequence of cumulative events. I have a lifelong commitment to land and its uniqueness. It was prompted by a chance visit – as an 11-year old – to an art gallery of landscape paintings. That singular experience undeniably galvanized my continuing love affair with trees, meadows, water, and the environment generally. That night I assured my Mother that “I want to do parks.” This set in motion a chain of events, sometimes continuous, sometimes interrupted, across intercontinental space and tumultuous times. It made me a professional, from designing playgrounds, gardens, and building sites to becoming an early advocate of preserving and conserving land as a unique and scarce resource. Recently the practice of landscape
architecture has assumed enormous environmental responsibilities, accompanied by great opportunities. Our natural environment allows life to flourish, sustaining the past, supporting the future, and assuring our continuing life.
Adaptation and transformation is essential to our profession. – from large city parks in Vancouver to singular sites like Ottawa’s National Gallery or Canada’s Embassies in Berlin and Washington – our profession has transformed cities and thereby has been transformed to urge global stewardship for a sustainable environment.
Learning about the environment has to start in pre-kindergarten where our individual behaviour is shaped and nurtured. Radical changes are demanded of every individual regarding our lifestyle, such as: smoking restrictions, reduced water consumption, sorting garbage, lawn sprinkling regulations, re-cycling procedures. This is only a beginning, and it is not enough. We must raise our building standards and codes to construct more economically and truly ‘build green.’
Better and smarter use of public transportation or walking to our daily tasks is essential. Better still, making that car trip unnecessary by bringing living and working closer together with comprehensive neighbourhood planning which supports a human scale for the diversity of life. It is increasingly important that we choose smartly where we live, where we work, where we shop, where we send our kids to school, and where we find recreation. These functions are interdependent and should be planned in integrated and environmentally responsible communities. We must learn to live more modestly without losing sight of our innate need to remain close to nature.
I dream of Green Cities with Green Buildings where rural and urban activities live
harmoniously. This demands community gardens, urban forests, river parks,
nature reserves, woodlands, and accessible Green Roofs. It means research
and application of old and new environmental technologies to purify water, and
restore waste sites with living plants.
It means collaboration among professionals, and between the professions and
industry so that building and site become one. “Achieving a fit” between the built
form and the land has been my guiding principle. This can only happen when old
and new design-related disciplines collaborate at the University level and co-
operatively demonstrate their relevance in meeting the enormous developmental
challenges facing our increasingly crowded urban planet.
Dalhousie University Convocation Address continued . . .