News & Events

News & Events

LAF at the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting

If you’ll be in Los Angles for the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, we hope you’ll join us for these fun and thought-provoking events. LAF will participate in three education sessions, host our popular Annual Benefit at the historic Union Station, and launch a new book featuring the “Declarations” and discussion from our landmark Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future. We hope to see you!

Endless Questions: The Heart of Research (FRI-A08)
Fri, Oct 20, 8:30-10am
Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 503
This Education Session with Cynthia Dehlavi of the Office of James Burnett, Josiah Cain of Sherwood Design Engineers, and Jason Long of OMA, and LAF’s Heather Whitlow features presentations and discussion on the what, why, and how of forming and running a research entity within a professional design practice.

In Pursuit of Big Ideas: Time-out for Research, Innovation, and Thought Leadership (FRI-B10)
Fri, Oct 20, 10:30am-12pm
Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 503
In this Education Session, LAF’s Jennifer Low, Mark Robbins of the American Academy in Rome, John Peterson of Harvard GSD’s Loeb Fellowship, and Anatole Tchikine of Dumbarton Oaks discuss research and fellowship opportunities that allow landscape architects to develop and explore new ideas and research that can inform design practice.

LAF 32st Annual Benefit 2017-annual-benefit-250x220
Fri, Oct 20, 7:00-10:30pm
Union Station - Historic Ticket Concourse (*Registration Required)

Join top designers and leaders from practice, academia, and industry for a lively evening with great food and drink in this iconic venue. Proceeds support LAF’s research, scholarships, and leadership initiatives.

LAF Booth in ASLA Expo Hall (#1663) 
Sat-Sun, Oct 21-22, 9:00am-6:00pm
Los Angeles Convention Center
Stop by our booth for book release festivities, including giveaways and author receptions 4:30-6pm both days.

The New Landscape Declaration at ASLA Bookstore nld-book-250x220
Sat-Sun, Oct 21-22, 9:00am-6:00pm
Los Angeles Convention Center
The New Landscape Declaration: A 21st Century Call to Action features 32 essays and reflections from LAF’s unprecedented 2016 Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future. The book launches at the ASLA bookstore, and LAF CEO Barbara Deutsch and Past-President Kona Gray will be on-hand to discuss on Sunday 9:30-11am.

Alt-Practice Outside the LA Studio: Exploring the Breadth of the Profession (MON-C07)
Mon, Oct 23, 1:30-3:30pm
Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 152
In this Education Session, LAF’s Barbara Deutsch, Betsy Anderson of the National Park Service, Sean Batty of Portland’s TriMet, and Pamela Galera of the City of Anaheim discuss careers beyond the private design firm where landscape architects can have powerful impact.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Urban Environmental Education in South Central Los Angeles

By David del la Cruz, 2017 National Olmsted Scholar


“¿Crees que llenemos el camion?” (Do you think we will fill up the bus?) my mom eagerly asks the night before we take a hike to Temescal Canyon.

Saturday morning we wake up at dawn, dew still on cars. I pick up my nephews and meet my mother at the Slauson Recreation Center. Of course we filled up the bus.

When I show up, the bus driver shares her excitement on having a bus full of people. She is ready to get moving on our short family hike on this breezy Los Angeles morning. We finally get off the 10-E freeway and get onto the Pacific Coast Highway. A foggy Pacific Ocean vista leaves the kids in the bus in awe.

This family hike took my neighbors to the Santa Monica Mountains, far from the center of the city. As we pull up to the park for the hike, the last person trickles out, and a few people scream out, “Foto del grupo!” (Group photo!) I go ahead and take the picture of our large group. We are met by Coral, Park Ranger at the Santa Monica Mountains, and Lily, our Trail Lead. They share park and trail etiquette with us before we start the hike.

This initial trip was a great welcome back to Los Angeles after my 3 years at the University of Washington where I finished my coursework in landscape architecture.

In my last year in school, I organized a range of events in collaboration with organizers in South Central Los Angeles — from the Dreamers of South Central Los Angeles to helping South Central Arts build a base of membership along with PAINT L.A. Adding to these fruitful collaborations, this hiking trip was a collaboration with the Resident Advisory Council of the Pueblo del Rio Housing Projects. My mother is a part of the Resident Advisory Council, and she is also a respected community leader.

I look up to her and the commitments she holds with her community — from the church to the day-to-day house visits she makes to her neighbors, talking about health, checking in with and offering consejos (counseling) to her community. Her organic leadership is part of what has shaped my own ethic in leadership, along with community organizations such as Communities for A Better Environment and East Yard Communities for a Better Environment. These organizations provided me a grounding in the environmental justice movement in Los Angeles.

I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, a large community south of downtown that has swaths of vacant land, polluted lots, and, most importantly, community members with exceptional abilities in finding ways to continue living under these conditions.

I am commited to environmental justice, and one of the ways this commitment can unfold is by exploring environmental education in the community that raised me. There are countless organizations throughout Los Angeles promoting environmental education by taking trips like the family hike I helped organize with community leaders and the National Park Service out of the Santa Monica Mountains. Nonetheless, I am interested in how environmental education takes on the issues of urban areas in working-class communities and communities of color.

Landscape architecture has given me the ability to think through urban environmental education and the ways that site design and community engagement can tackle issues of pollution at the broader level, and inclusion at the local level. I aim to use the skills of this profession to expose younger generations throughout my community to see how landscape architecture may be able to weave together community engagement with something as technical as phytoremediation.

My 2017 National Olmsted Scholar award will be used to look at these different aspects of South Central Los Angeles to work through addressing the legacies of environmental racism and historic disinvestment that impact this largely black and brown community. By understanding the impact that urban environmental education might have, working with youth and within the K-12 education system will help in building future leaders in the environmental field.

I plan to work closely with Los Angeles Unified School District and organizations committed to expanding open and green space in the region to continue building youth leadership around urban environmental issues in working-class communities and communities of color. Some of the leading organizations committed to this vision include From Lots to Spots, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, Pacoima Beautiful, among others.

The guiding research question for my Olmsted Scholar project is: How can vacant land in Los Angeles temporarily be used to support an urban environmental education ethic for high school youth?

David de la Cruz, a first generation student in higher-education, received a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington in June. He was selected as LAF’s 2017 National Olmsted Scholar and recipient of the $25,000 graduate prize.

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