Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sense of Place

Fondly emblazoned on bumper stickers is the motto “Keep Portland Weird”. Created to encourage shopping at local businesses, it shouts civic pride in the wonderful eccentricity residing in Portland, Oregon. The creative spirit thrives abundantly in the gardens GWA* arranged for touring. (My apologies to the trees which were brushed by busses adventuring through shaded residential streets).
That spirit was front and center at the Nerd Night Dinner. If there is one thing Oregonians are not, it is boring (not even the citizens of the town Boring). The Goddess Flora Chorus and Deadheading Society's twisted together lyrics, entertaining a banquet hall packed with unrecovered and unrepentant hortiholics.

Happily, the exuberant lyrics were projected on an oversized screen: we could rejoice in our passion for plants, singing along to melodies familiar to anyone raised with popular culture. The chorus’ rollicking energy brought the audience us to our feet, arms waving broadly as though it was a rock concert anthem.

Here’s the one that kicked off the evening:
Nerd Night Theme Song
(sung to "Meet the Flintstones, " music by Hoyt Curtin)
Lyrics by Linda Beutler (mostly- the choir exerts it right to tweak all lyrics to make them incomprehensively fun)
Nerd Night! Yes, it’s Nerd Night!

With your horticulture family.
Come see all the Hort Heads,
It’s a page right out of botany!
Let go find the venders we can greet.
Think of all the new plants we will meet…

While you’re here at Nerd Night
You will have a really swell time,
A K-X-L time,
You’ll have a gay old time!

Back home, plans are underway to place a brand new NFL Stadium just around the corner, in the City of Industry. This project is slated to be nestled within the currently vacant bosom of 600 rolling acres which bisect the largely residential cities of Diamond Bar and Walnut, California.
As a former Planning Commissioner, it is exciting to see the topography utilized to cut construction costs and later for noise reduction throughout the neighborhood. The current entitlements and original EIR to this property are for more intense usage than the proposed complex. I expect what may be the first LEED* certified football stadium will go forward from drawing to reality, perhaps housing two teams and future Super Bowl Games.
As a garden writer who hasn’t yet seen the landscape plans yet, I am eager to find our sense of place in the surrounding San Gabriel Valley reflected in the plantings. It will be wondrous to find the skeleton of this very corporate-interest driven building project enveloped in a regional gardenscape.
Located thirty miles east of downtown Los Angeles, we’re not as quirky as Portland. We’re also not downtown New York. We are a suburban collaboration of Southern California communities. Should it be that later this decade TV is broadcasting images from our stunning valley from a brand new NFL stadium, my dream is that the colorful gardenscape possible in our sunny rolling hills is enjoyed by visitors and conveyed to the world at large.

GWA Garden Writers Association
Linda Beutler is curator of Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection. Lyrics used with permission.
Image of serious photographer David Perry is from GWA Awards Dinner
*“The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. “
EIR- Environmental Impact Report
Architect's rendering of Ed Roski's proposed NFL stadium. Credit: Mike Amaya/Meis Architects.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lydia, what are your thoughts on the potentially negative impacts of the stadium?

Lydia said...

Good Morning!

Planning, oversight and implementation are as important as a vision. With every concern voiced is the opportunity for it to be mitigated (or even made better). Some of these may already be addressed- but assumption is the root of regret...

The regional infrastructure is excellent- but there is local infrastructure and connection to regional that may need upgrading to move traffic at maximum efficiency around game times. Sooner rather than later.
The opportunity to exploit the Metro Rail as a means of moving into and out of the arena should be arranged for.
Some of the arterial streets the locals know and will use- the exposed railway crossings should be upgraded.

Security- at peak times the needs are completely different from when the stadium is empty. Whose responsibility and how they will be properly funded needs to be addressed to contain any negative behavior from impacting surrounding communities.

Landscaping is as important to the neighbors as the building for how the facility will be accepted. A couple palm trees sticking up will not cut it- an imaginative planting pallete appropriate and representative of this region should be present from the opening of the facility. Some maybe before as a show of good faith.
The parking lot should be more than a flat expanse of an eyesore to be used only 12-30 days a year with rainwater runoff going straight into the gutters.
The developer should do his best to use the topography of the parking areas with the same brilliance as they have done in plannning of the building.

Sound- How the topography is used will likely address how the game time sound carries to most areas- but there is a ridgeline- roughly overlooking the AQMD building which needs assurance the noise isn't a nuisance.
CUP- Peak usage of the facility needs to be in place, with the assurance of process for desirable variance. There are circumstances where we would want more events- may be the 4th of July- where JPAs could be welcomed.

Over the years the commercial value of surrounding properties will likely skyrocket more so with this development than what will otherwise be put on this piece of land. This will create additional pressure to develop our beloved public golf course. That being said- there has been pressure to develop that course since before I was a Parks and Recreation Commissioner in the early 1990's- and I do not see the political circumstances which would allow that to occur in my lifetime.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It would be nice to see a lot of Cactus and Succulents and other "native" plants used in the landscaping...These plants are BEAUTIFUL and they don't need a lot of water....!

Loving Annie said...

That is too cute. Makes me want to visit Portland - A passion for plants is a good thing !

I hope the new NFL stadium is wonderful. We need one to replace the Coliseum...

And I couldn't agree with you more about the long lovely comment you left on my blog about enjoying having company over for dinner :)

Lydia said...

Greetings Naomi! Absolutely! There is a real opportunity within the hardscape to have drought tollerant, sun loving ecosystems within the gardenscape. Corporate does not have to be boring. If it is efficient it can be beautiful.
John Schoustra has made a lifelong commitment to making commmon perennials more appropriate for our particular part of the nation. Would love to see people like him contribute to the effort.

Lydia said...

Portland is a wonderful place to visit. I cannot think of any place in the world which would have been better for 600 garden communicators to get together to learn and celebrate the profession. I took so many images- I carry a charged spare battery- and still my camera gave up twice!
I think that all the concerns about the proposed stadium can be addressed and local conditions may even be improved by its inclusion.
I would love to see roses in part of the garden. They do not have to be high maintenance. More on that later!

debra said...

great writeup, Lydia. I still have not written about my impressions of Portland and GWA's fabulous five days there. However, I can say that I'm so pleased you came and hope your investment of time and money pays off for you, personally and professionally!
xoxo Debra

Lydia said...

Thank you,Debra! It was a great week. Personally and professionally. Hope to see you at So Cal Hort later this week.