An Urban Tree Care Conference
January 30th & 31st, 2020

Think Tree Resources

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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Soil and the City, Episode 2: Baggage – A Brief History of New Mexico’s Love Affair with Soil

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 2: Baggage: A Brief History of New Mexico's Love Affair with Soil

Despite notions that our soil is poor, infertile and degraded, New Mexico residents knowingly and unknowingly practice an intimacy with our soil unfamiliar to many parts of the world. We are embraced by adobe brick walls and nourished by food born from the soil.

If that's not love, I don't know what is. Soil permeates New Mexican existence even as we choose to ignore it. It keeps showing up when we least expect it.

So why dredge up the baggage of an age-old romance?

Our emotional response to soil is driven by our perspective. As JB Jackson said about the power of everyday places to enlighten us about ourselves, "It's a matter of learning how to see."1 Our future with soil depends on our ability to see its allure. We need to understand where we've been.

Natural time and scale in the Southwest are measured by geology. The human lifespan is barely a blip on the geologic screen. It's no wonder that we have trouble seeing how we relate to such slow moving processes. However, if we look through an architectural lens and agricultural traditions, the bond becomes more visible.

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