An Urban Tree Care Conference
January 17th & 18th, 2019

Think Tree Resources

Soil and the City, Episode 4: Romancing the Soil – Towards Making Amend(ment)s

by Amy Bell, PLA, ASLA, ISA Certified Arborist FBT Architects Landscape Architect

This six-part blog series investigates the reasons why we have fallen out of love with soil (or at the very least taken it for granted) and how we can rekindle that relationship through an amended approach to the design and construction of our everyday places.

Soil and the City, Episode 4: Romancing the Soil – Towards Making Amend(ment)s

Last week we documented a rather messy breakup with soil, but today we've come to our senses and decided to ask for a second chance. With luck, a little romance will go a long way. Let's get back on that bicycle and review the basics:

Step 1: Get Soil's Number
Making the first move may seem daunting, but it's relatively simple. To begin, we need to remember that soil is actually there (though we might need x-ray goggles to see it). The urban environment provides ample hiding places for soil, yet it persists under the pavement and weed barrier fabric ­– the ultimate contrarian.

Getting soil's number is like unearthing a new kind of truth window. An aperture that reminds us that even under our feet, truck tires, parking lots and building foundations, fascinating stuff is happening down there. The prospect and mystery of a soil ecology that continues to survive despite our best efforts is infinitely alluring.

The act of "getting that number" opens up an avenue for communication, but as with any relationship there is protocol. Attention to detail, patience and sensitivity will lay the groundwork needed for authentic progress.

Step 2: Craft the Perfect Date
Now that we have soil's attention (or rather soil has regained ours) how do we win it back? Dr. Ruth suggests listening to your partner. Find out about them. Get to know them. Some prefer a swanky cocktail on a rooftop patio while others want to cozy up to a fire with a robust bottle of wine. Speaking from experience, a box of chocolate truffles will do the trick. But I digress.

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Soil and the City, Episode 3: Sorry Soil, It’s Not You, It’s Us – The Break Up

by Amy Bell, PLA, ASLA, ISA Certified Arborist FBT Architects Landscape Architect

This six-part blog series investigates the reasons why we have fallen out of love with soil (or at the very least taken it for granted) and how we can rekindle that relationship through an amended approach to the design and construction of our everyday places.

Soil and the City, Episode 3: Sorry Soil, It's Not You, It's Us – The Break Up

Dear Soil,

We're just not that into you. Can we still be friends?

It's clear we've hit a rocky part of this well traveled road. We've dredged up our history, sifted through the emotional baggage and clearly we just keep pushing soil away. At best, we take it for granted and at worst, we actively engage in its destruction.

Relationships are complicated and sometimes we do and say things we regret. Is soil just too hard to understand?

Not really. Let's be honest – it's us.

Digging through our relationship story we see that ages ago we had to understand soil because we needed it to survive.

As time progressed we invented mechanized processes to make life easier and support larger populations. The Industrial Revolution created the worldview that our reality consists of parts that can be dissected, reconstructed and understood in isolation of each other. This thinking supports materialism, reductionism and ultimately fragmentation: a rift in our connection to environments and each other.

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