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New Year, New Directions

Wise words from Cardinal Peter Turkson
From the garden at St. Francis de Sales, West Philadelphia

It's been quite a while since I've written on the blog here, but there's been so much happening in the last few months! I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the new year and reflect on the accomplishments of 2018.

Last year was a major milestone for me, as I finally took the leap to go all in on my dream of launching my own firm, and I haven’t looked back. Already I’ve had the opportunity to work with many amazing clients and help them to progress their own ambitious projects, and I’ve forged partnerships with some incredible individuals who bring endless value and insight to our team.

In October, I was invited to speak at Design Philadelphia’s annual Fast Forward Philly event, and I got the chance to present a proposed solution for the redevelopment of the long vacant Logan Triangle through the lens of regenerative development. Inspired by Paul Glover’s 2015 “Logan Orchard and Market” proposal, the site program for the 35 acre site would include a low-density mix of affordable, solar-powered tiny houses, agricultural facilities for growing and processing organic local food, and community amenities for recreation, healthcare, education, and gathering.

In addition, traditional linear flows of water, energy, and nutrients would be reorganized in self-sustaining, closed-loop systems on the site. By prioritizing economic revitalization, community health, and physical site restoration, the proposal was intended to demonstrate a new model of regenerative urban development that could be implemented in disenfranchised neighborhoods not only in Philadelphia but in similar urban landscapes suffering similar challenges throughout the country.

Later last fall, I also took a long overdue vacation with my husband to travel around northern Europe, spending time with overseas friends and studying urban vernaculars in London, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. I view travel as both a practice and a necessity for creativity, as it jolts me out of familiar routines and patterns to open my mind to alternative cultures, ideas, forms, and details.

London, UK
How about a garden facade?

Finally last year, and perhaps most importantly, I made the annual holiday pilgrimage to my home state of North Carolina to visit all the various individuals who compose the entirety of my extended family. Eleven days, 1400 miles in the car, and no less than six different family gatherings to reconnect with those people who matter the most. Though religion, politics, and creed may vary, I am reminded in these times of homecoming that we all are weathering the challenges of our time together, and the mistakes we make in the past and present fall on the shoulders of future generations to solve.

My generation is already trying to pick up the social, economic, and ecological pieces left behind by the mass consumption of the latter half of the twentieth century, and whether we do so by involving ourselves in politics, community activism, or launching a small business to pursue aims that corporate giants are too big to handle, I am hopeful for the future. All around me, I see change, aspiration, and action, and I believe in a world where my fourteen-month-old nephew will be able to thrive in harmony with his brothers and sisters of all races, where poverty has been eradicated, food security is no longer in question, and our societies have finally achieved an abundant and symbiotic relationship with the ecosystems that support us.

I am reminded by a sign I often used to pass on my walks in West Philadelphia, planted next to the garden tended at St. Francis de Sales:

“We received the earth as a garden from the hands of the Creator,

let us not pass it on to those who come after us as wilderness -- or still less, a desert.”

With this in mind, I am as excited as ever for things to come in 2019, and I am so grateful to all of my clients and partners for their faith in my capabilities and their shared vision for a bright and beautiful future. As architects, designers, owners, developers, and visionaries, together we have the opportunity to turn this ship around by transcending convention and building new vernaculars which honor life, justice, and our collective future on the earth. Thank you, to all of you -- you continue to inspire me every day and I look forward to more amazing work together in the coming year!


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