First Designing Schools for Mental Health Workshop

“It’s time to begin a movement.” Those words, included in my final fellowship presentation for the Landscape Architecture Foundation last May, came true last week. Our first Designing Schools for Mental Health Workshop brought together mental health, education, design, and environmental justice professionals for a morning sharing session and afternoon policy workshop to start a […]

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For the Love of Teenagers

The following is the talk I gave at last week’s Landscape Architecture Foundation Symposium in Washington, D.C. You can view the recorded talk here. During fifteen years working and living in Los Angeles I’ve visited, studied, and helped to design landscapes for at least two dozen LA Unified School District public schools. For twelve years, […]

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Love and Fear in LA

Image by Margaret Gerhart Sometimes things happen that make you question everything. Two weeks ago, I walked along 103rd Street toward the corner of Grape in Watts with several community advocates and a selection committee from the California Natural Resources Agency. Viviana Franco and Maria De Leon from From Lot to Spot, the non-profit who […]

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Restorative Landscapes for Restorative Justice

During over a decade of personal and professional experience with Los Angeles public schools, I’ve struggled to understand the impacts that school landscapes have on our children’s hearts, minds, and bodies. So, I was thrilled to be selected as one of four Fellows for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s first Fellowship in Leadership and Innovation to advocate for changing school […]

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School for the Angels

I always loved school. Even chronic shyness couldn’t dampen my drive to learn and do my schoolwork and please my teachers. From elementary through college and years later in graduate school, I failed only one class, and that was because I decided I’d rather sleep in than go to my 8:00 a.m. Intro to Economics class. So, despite […]

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Rain and Teenagers in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Deluge Part One You’ve probably heard, or been in, the rain this weekend. After months of no rain, we’ve had a deluge in Los Angeles. In a record low rainfall year – the last I heard was 3″ – we got that much in a 48-hour period. For Southern California, that’s a big […]

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The Nature of a School Landscape

Think back to your childhood school … what is the first image that pops into your head? I have two distinct memories of elementary school.​ One is of me swinging next to Katie Coffee on the big metal swing set the day after Jimmy Carter was elected President.​ The other is of a big maple […]

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What is Winter?

Last year I toured several environmentally focused schools to learn how innovative programs are addressing Nature Deficit Disorder: the growing issue of children (and adults) lacking enough access to nature and its restorative qualities. At one of the public elementary schools, remade with native gardens, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, I sat in on an […]

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