Walter Hood talks and walks a green path and lives and breathes his passion. His view of what green landscape should look like in urban areas? Listen to what he said about Oakland’s Lake Merritt in a Fast Company article.
“Everything seems like it’s dropped out of nowhere. It’s like, okay, we’ll put in the grasses and the rocks and let’s do the stupid green roof over a garbage-compactor thing. That’s the playbook of landscape architecture. But this is the centerpiece of our community. It should add up and become something larger.” The “something larger” is real nature opposed to a fabricated image of nature.
He talked to the TEDxBerkeley crowd recently about the green prints he has been working on in Pittsburg. He showed us his ‘green’ plans, which he called “You Live in the Woods,” and within the woods is a village. He says he watches where the people go and then builds around them.
Hood has been working on a number of cities around America, not just Pittsburgh. Among others, Wood has had an impact on Buffalo and Jackson, Wyoming, where he transformed street corners and highway underpasses into public spaces.
He encouraged us to think differently about public spaces and to stop being afraid of ‘green’ spaces as they are ‘naturally’. “We don’t have to control it all the time – sometimes we can just it go.” He reminded us how rare it is to see ‘woods’ anymore, “you know,” he says, “that vacant lot where a kid can go into it and see the rainforest, get dirty, play with ants, see Africa, get away from mom and dad.”
He’s right. When I was a kid, I had my own woods…..I even called it “the woods,” and it was there where I took dogs for a walk, built forts, climbed trees, went hunting for frogs and just sat and looked at the bush. It was a place I could seek refuge when things didn’t make sense, which for a ten year old is often. And, for a 15 year old, it’s even more often.
He showed us amazing photos of ‘green forest’ they created in Pittsburg, an area that looked more like a mini-rainforest in the middle of an urban sprawl. He says with passion, “we don’t need to make a community garden and a park. We need to stop controlling everything.”
With his projects, he focuses on the GREEN first and lets everything grow from that one central point. He encouraged the crowd to “think about culture and landscape together. On other words, we can bring the ‘hill’ back to communities.
Hood ended his talk with this advice: bring back the hill, learn about the hill and listen to stories from people in the hill. Learn more about Walter’s work here.