Report of the CELA ’94 Conference
Gulf Park Conference Center, 7-10 Sept. ’94
(Hosted by the Department of Landscape Architecture. Division of Continuing Education, Mississippi State University.)
“The first poetry is always written against the wind by sailors and farmers who sing with the wind in their teeth…
The second poetry is written by scholars and wine drinkers who have learned to know a good thing.
The third poetry is sometimes never written but when it is, it’s by those who have brought nature and art together into one thing.”
Walter Inglis Anderson
This year CELA (Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture) Conference focused on the role of culture and history in the evolution of local landscapes. Mississippi’s unique historic and cultural heritage provided a vibrantly appropriate stage on which to exchange ideas, discuss problems and anticipate developments in terms of the appropriate training for Landscape Architects for the 21st century. Music (particularly the indigenous “Blues”), poetry, writing, painting, quilting and needlework were but a few of the ingredients of this colourful and lively Conference.
A staggering 173 abstracts had been submitted for review. Conference delegates were then able to mix and match their own palette of participation by attending at will any of the selected 141 papers. Topics ranged from “The Spatial Significance of the Southern Front Porch”, with all its connotations of safe space and self policing, to “Childhood, Romanticism and Landscape” and “Gender, Place and Choice in Jane Austen’s 18th Century Landscapes”
Speakers, including African American Landscape Architects, whose roots in America are before those of European settlers, spoke of work with very disadvantaged groups within their communities. Here Landscape Architects act as co-ordinators and team leaders in attempting to improve people’s quality of life through the modification of their surroundings. Speakers talked of the very special needs of abused women and how Landscape Design can help in their renewal, others spoke of their involvement in creating memorials to victims of Aids and gang violence. On a lighter note we were treated to papers on themes such as: “Story Telling and Visionary Design Capacities”, on the “Legends of Fountains” and on “Sensing the Sense of Place a Challenge for Design Education”. Within this dynamic and enthralling programme we were invited to a formal reception and private viewing of the Walter Inglis Anderson Museum. The excursion afternoon options included : a fishing trip to the rich esturian waters of the Mississippi Sound, sailing in the white winged replica of an 1850 fishing boat to the beaches, marshes and woodlands of Biloxi and exploring the deep brackish water swamps of the Gulf Coast to see the alligators and bird life of this spectacular but fragile landscape.
The final banquet was held at the internationally renowned Crosby Arboretum, designed specifically to help the people of the Gulf Region appreciate their ecological heritage. The emphasis here is to protect the diversity of naturally occurring species and ensure future generations can benefit from the rich range of genetic memory that these plants possess. Under the spectacular roof-span of Fay Jones` award winning pavilion we enjoyed catfish at its very best and looked forward to the next CELA Meeting at Iowa State University, where the topic under discussion will be “Nature and Technology”.
CELA had extended an invitation to the ELASA representative to ECLAS to participate at their Annual Conference. The opportunities presented in terms of contacts, content and general education can not be overstated. It is hoped that this initial contact with CELA can be nurtured and, that in time many other students will benefit from contacts across the Atlantic.
ELASA Representative to ECLAS