Several months ago, exhilarated by the Women’s March, a friend and I exclaimed, “We should do this every weekend!” Since then, my anger towards President Trump has developed from a vague dread to specific fears as his policies have rolled out: Will immigrants be forever persecuted? Will women have access to safe health care?
When House bill H.R. 861 to abolish the EPA was introduced in February, my fear sharpened to a point. The stakes have never been higher for our planet’s health, and this bill is an arrogant deterrent to progress.
The mistrust of facts in the recent years has been well documented, and the attack on science – preventing scientists from publishing work without White House review, withdrawing research funding, gag orders related to climate change, etc. – is the continuation of this propaganda. The administration’s attack on science has a direct impact on all of our lives. From compromising our natural resources, to over-valuing outdated energy sources, their goals do not support the earth and are in direct opposition to the values of landscape architecture.
The heart of this profession is in the service of the earth: restoration, habitat support, preserving open space, improving the earth one (rooftop) garden at a time. As the ASLA states, “[The] EPA’s role, protecting human health and the environment, intersects with ASLA’s work in leading the design and stewardship of land and communities…”
I used to advise science students on Ph.D. fellowship applications, and I’ve read more National Science Foundation applications than an art major ever should. I grasped only a small percentage of the technical details, but it was a good test for the students: if they could explain quasi-conformally homogenous Reiman surfaces or quantum computing in a way that I could understand, then they could be better scientists.
In my years advising, I learned the importance of the scientific method, and the concept of ‘good science’. This term is heavy with meaning, but includes values like “fact over opinion”, following the scientific method, empiricism, and peer review. I would argue that good science is the basis for all good design, and the parallel processes both include inquiry, research, concept development, trial and error, continual questioning, analyzing, and sharing results.
If science is being denounced, the scaffolding for our culture is compromised. I urge you to join me in supporting science by marching this Saturday, April 22, in Downtown LA and over 500 other cities around the world. The March for Science is part of a ‘global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.’ Come be part of the movement!