By Lenore Macdonald
An exciting grant opportunity was recently announced by a Garden Club of America Rome Prize Fellow, Rosetta S. Elkin, Associate Professor & Director of Landscape Architecture and Research Associate at Harvard Arnold Arboretum. Her long list of honors, awards, and fellowships include Harvard Climate Change Solutions Fund, Graham Foundation for the Arts, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Harvard Asia Center, and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. First, a bit on why I think Rosetta’s work is interesting and timely. Next, I will describe “Practice Grant”, an opportunity to support garden and landscape studies.
Rosetta S. Elkin is the principal and founder of Practice Landscape, a new collaborative dedicated to exploring design amongst the changing conditions, a novel kind of work that appreciates the challenges of our time, a time of great change for all living organisms, including humans. Practice Landscape is dedicated to developing landscape as a process, a series of applied engagements that embrace experimentation in the face of climate change.
Rosetta is one of the great minds of our time and worth learning more about. She has created an impactful model tying together the landscape, ecology, conservation, horticulture, botany, advocacy, art, history, and humanity. She teaches design students to see the living world more keenly and to take responsibility for the changes we bring to it. The Graham Foundation for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation have nourished Rosetta’s investigations with results shared in multiple projects, exhibitions, and publications in Canada, Europe, and closer to home in the U.S.
Tiny Taxonomy and Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation
Rosetta is a plantswoman through and through, whose life’s work ranges in scale from deep attention to the smallest photosynthesizes of the forest floor with her project into Tiny Taxonomy, to vastly interconnected coastal marshlands across Rhode Island. Tiny Taxonomy (2017) is a book of the same name that shows us that small plants can pack a big punch. In it she invites us to refocus on “what is right under our noses: plants.” As a close reader of how plants are often tied to climate change solutions, her new book “Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation”, to be published by Minnesota Press in early 2022, is a book that helps us unpack tree-planting and large scale greening initiatives, one species at a time. We anticipate the publication and want to know more about it. If it is like Tiny Taxonomy, it will surprise and inspire the reader.
The book Tiny Taxonomy highlights three of Rosetta’s garden projects–at Les Jardins de Métis on the St. Lawrence estuary, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum Jordan Garden, and London’s Belgrave Square in collaboration with Highgate Cemetery–she “showcases species that are in cultivation or in profusion, but rarely purposefully planted”. Tiny Taxonomy is not so much a traditional gardening or landscaping book, as an invitation to the reader to look at garden and landscaping differently: to consider the individual plants in and of themselves.
Of course, Rosetta is an academic, but her ideas flow into project-making. Practice Landscape is currently developing an adaptive management plan in Lake County, taking lands that were heavily grazed and tilled, and turning them into perennial agriculture, with resorted wetland characteristics and a great influx of plant species for more diversity.
Rosetta and her partners at Practice Landscape recently founded a 501(c)(3) charity called the Practice Foundation which will be developing “Practice Grants” for improving and expanding approaches to landscape architecture and design. As they say: “The climate is changing faster than our professional practices, it is time to speed up our response and involve the next generation.”
The Foundation is especially interested in considering applications from underserved and emerging designers–those who might feel excluded from the education necessary to become a licensed landscape architect, or who don’t even know about it at all. All who are interested in applying are invited and encouraged.
The Foundation believes that “valuable landscape practices exist in otherwise marginalized communities, in spaces of injustice and across rural and remote regions. The Practice Grant was initiated to encourage these alternative forms of land-based practices by providing funding and a network of support to Grantees. The Practice Grant aims to recognize and learn from the practices that exist outside of dominant professional modes of landscape architecture by bridging the gap between applied, and often informal land-based practices and the barriers to gaining professional licensure.”
Grants may be made to individuals, groups of individuals, or organizations and will be awarded in support of applied research and realized projects. These projects need to be “shovel ready,” and therefore applicants must demonstrate ownership or the right/permission to improve the parcel, as well as project feasibility. The land being improved does not have to be located in a public park or at an institution and can be privately owned.
The application process is not onerous – the Foundation wants to encourage applicants from all walks. Applicants from all career stages who are dedicated to the field of the landscape are welcome to apply, however, an accredited landscape architecture degree or professional license is not required.
Grants for individual projects will be awarded for $1,000 to up to $20,000. Applications will be formally accepted from December 1 through around January 15, although you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information now. Visit https://practicelandscape.com/grant for details.
In short, this is a tremendous opportunity for our community. It is forward-thinking “outside of the box” and looks to review applications from across a spectrum of communities from the United States and Canada.
All photo credits: Practice Landscape
©2021 Lenore Macdonald. All rights reserved.