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Common Ground, this year’s theme for the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) 2017 Annual Meeting and EXPO, October 20-23, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, casts a wide net. As Vaughn Rinner, ASLA president, describes it in an open letter announcing the conference, the theme reflects not only common areas where people meet and interact—streets, parks, markets, gardens—but also mediums shared among landscape architects and ideas that are taking on increased significance as communities strive to become more resilient and address the effects of climate change.

More than 6,000 attendees are expected for the four-day conference, which is packed with professional events and showcases: 122 education sessions, 16 field sessions, and five workshops. Attendees can earn up to 21 professional development hours under the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™), and journey out for day-long trips to Disneyland Resort, the Gardens of Arroyo Seco, Ganna Walska Lotusland, Tongva Park, L.A.’s evolving eastside and other vibrant coastal landscapes. The EXPO—the largest trade show in the industry—will feature more than 350 exhibitors, including Goric, and thousands of new products, services, and technology applications.

Come join us for the Dancer giveaway, a sampling of which you can see here in YouTube. Full details below.

2007 Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan rendering |photo copyright City of Los Angeles and Mia Lehrer and Associates

Climate Change is Here and Landscape Architects Are Instrumental in Resiliency Planning  
At the top of this year’s agenda is climate resiliency. It’s worthwhile to note that Rinner’s letter calls on landscape architects and urban planners to address “the effects” of climate change, not the threats or risks. With less unclaimed space, growing urban populations, rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, professionals are being called on to take a more active advocacy role, not only to “design, repurpose, restore, maintain, and protect natural and built places” but to “be active advocates for our communities and for natural systems.”

Some of the educational sessions are broad, theoretical panels on pertinent professional issues: water conservation in the American West, homelessness in public parks, social and environmental equity, stormwater retention, river restoration, and affordable public housing. Others zero in on climate adaptation plans and municipal planning and development policies. Still others, take a more focus look at exceptional park designs and multi-modal projects, such as the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, the Trans-Alaska Trail, and Portland’s Orange Line light rail project.

Venice, CA dedicated bike lanes | photo via ASLA

The Giveaway
Of course, what we’re most excited about is our giveaway. Throughout the conference weekend, we will be offering visitors—you—the chance to win a Dancer. The person who can climb aboard the oval disc and get the marble around the labyrinth twice in the shortest time gets a free Dancer.

Visit us at Booth #1451 for more details and your chance to win. The competition closes Sunday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. The Dancer will be shipped to the location of choice for the winner, and the top three runner ups will receive Starbucks gift cards.

The Dancer is designed for hip swinging and tends to draw a crowd, so come early. Riding the disc is fun and easy. You place your feet roughly shoulder width apart and rock back and forth, coaxing the marble through the maze. As with any ball-maze game, it’s marvelously addictive.

And even if you don’t win, you might consider the Dancer for an upcoming project. Because of its compact size —just a little more than two-feet in diameter—the Dancer is easy to incorporate within the context of a small-scale or elaborate site plan. Plus, it serves multiple uses, at once: engaging a rider’s core muscles, testing her coordination and balance, and demanding concentration and mental finesse.

So come give it a try. You may even set a world record.

Two Don’t-Miss Sessions
Because of our interest in sensory-based playground design, we are also eagerly anticipating two of the education sessions. Be sure to mark your calendars (or use the new ASLA Meeting Mobile App to help you), so you don’t miss these two panels led by distinguished landscape architects and playground designers.

Rotary playground musical chimes san jose

Rotary PlayGarden, San Jose | PGAdesign

On Friday, Oct. 20, from 1:30-3:00p.m., in room 406, Greg Miller, principal of MRWM Landscape Architects, and Lucy Miller, founder and director of the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, will speak in a moderated session titled, “Evidence-based Design: Impact of Sensory Play Environments for Children with Developmental Disabilities.” The panelists will examine research outcomes showing children with developmental disorders benefit from strategically designed sensory playgrounds and gardens. In addition to sharing research findings, they will look at examples of public parks that provide rich experiences for children with developmental disorders, and identify the elements of landscape design that improve interaction, engagement, and emotional self-regulation.

Then, on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 11:00a.m.-12:30p.m., in room 502, panelists Ingrid Kanics, owner of Kanics Inclusive Design Services, LLC, and Greg Miller will discuss the goals of universal design in a session called “All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time: Designing Socially Sustainable Parks.” In a moderated discussion, the panelists will articulate how broadly inclusive design approaches can be applied in parks to contribute to social equity ad social sustainability.

We can’t wait to see you in L.A.!