As University of Pennsylvania professor David Brownlee set the stage for last Friday's Civic Horticulture Conference, jointly presented by The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, audience members couldn't help but appreciate our city's rich heritage in bringing green landscapes to the urban mix.
Starting with the Penn treaty site and his four squares, moving into the revolutionary Water Works, progressing through to the evolution of Fairmount Park and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, marching on to Bacon's redoing of Independence Mall and Society Hill and ending with today's bounty, including Delaware waterfront work and the Parkway enrichments, Brownlee's talk was a compelling, if rather academicallly presented, argument for this greenest of countrie towns.
With his summation, the conference kicked off its official program, engaging abut 200, mostly local, professionals, members of the media, and students in an often thought-provoking look at the role in which plants can play in today's cities. PennPraxis' Harris Steinberg* introduced the first of three segments, The Street, by examining how the traditional line between street and sidewalk has increasingly been blurred — from parklets to reclaiming streets from traffic, from capturing water to highway transformations. Next, Steinberg offered his panel a few "provocations," including: How do we define the street today? and Can horticulture redefine urbanism as it mediates scales?
Good jumping-off points, but ones not necessarily addressed by the speakers.
JoAnn was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Philadelphia in 1991. She has lived in Rittenhouse Square, Old City, and now owns a home in Bella Vista.