Last night a group of staff and faculty from Winona State, University of Minnesota, Carleton College and Macalester College met at the St. Paul Student Center to plan next year's Imagining America National Conference which will be held in the Twin Cities.
"Imagining America is a consortium of colleges and universities committed to public scholarship and practice in the arts, humanities, and design. Imagining America supports campus-community partnerships that contribute to local and national civic life while furthering recognition of the value of public scholarship and practice in higher education itself. Each year Imagining America hosts a national conference that engages broader themes as well as the local context of the conference site."
For me and for other planning committee members the words "Imagining America" indicate that things could be otherwise - the ways we work together, the economies we work within, and the boundaries of our fields. These words also indicate something ongoing rather than one-off, something whose starting points are hopeful and whose commitments are long-term.
Landscape Architecture has an important role to play in Imaging America. As I've said elsewhere, design is a way of considering, representing, and constructing relationships between people and places - designers envision, present, and create.
Today brought two examples of how landscape architects inspire and implement sustainable futures. Students for Design Activism, a group of talented and engaged Landscape Architecture students, transformed a parking spot into a park where people could learn about using plants to treating urban runoff before pollution enters waterways like the Mississippi River. UMN MLA alumni Craig Wilson, CEO of Sustology, a sustainability consultancy and UMN MLA Adjunct Assistant Professor and CEO of Murphy Warehouse, Richard Murphy announced plans to transform three of Murphy's warehouses into the largest generators of Minnesota-manufactured solar energy in North America. Parking spots become parks, warehouse roofs become energy generators. Imagine that!