VIEW: Kofi Boone, Black Landscapes Matter

Black Landscapes Matter

Kofi Boone, North Carolina State University

Thursday, May 6, 2021

View the seminar by clicking HERE

Kofi Boone is a University Faculty Scholar and Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, in the College of Design at North Carolina State University. His work concerns the overlap between landscape architecture and environmental justice with specializations in democratic design, digital media, and interpreting cultural landscapes. He serves on the advisory board of the Black Landscape Architects Network, and is President-Elect of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

The seminar will pick up from an influential essay – “Black Landscapes Matter” that Kofi Boone wrote for Ground Up Journal in 2020. He writes, “BLM created a comprehensive platform now being championed by The Movement for Black Lives that extends to areas of health, safety, and welfare where black people live. What does this broader agenda mean for designers and planners that work with black people and black communities? What are the implications of this era on the landscapes where black people live, work, worship, remember, and play?” Here’s a link to the essay, and the 8 propositions at the heart of the argument.

“What if we started to tell different stories about landscape architecture, stories that recognized the power of physical places in catalyzing political and economic transformation? For a long time now most of our theory, history, and projects have applied European precedents to American design challenges. Moreover many of these precedents are landscapes of privilege, environments often as not underwritten by colonialist exploitation; thus we marvel at the art and craft, but edit the meaning and context. Palatial estates were the embodiment, the concretization, of powerful aristocracies. Manorial lands that were opened up to the masses in the capitalist era were social experiments that sought to “civilize” the working classes, to keep control and maintain the socio-economic hierarchies. A similar effort to maintain the hierarchies — albeit with increased ecological awareness — underlies much contemporary environmental design in American cities.”