Negotiating fecund aqueous and terrestrial territories, Lutsky and Burkholder discover living landscapes of confounding complexities. By listening deeply to the shallow water bays, they and their contributors explore the sediments of peoples and ecologies that populate the Great Lakes. These muddy landscapes are a curious place to find such clarity.
Threatened by issues of environmental health, climate change, population growth, and industrial demands, the coastal zone of the Great Lakes reflects an increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the people of the basin and the resources that support them. Perhaps no place is the physical manifestation of this struggle more evident than in the basin’s shallow bays. While many regional and local responses to these issues focus on methods of control, Five Bay Landscapes argues that responses should begin with critical, experiential, and pluralistic understandings of place. Through a series of five narratives, each located on a bay within the Great Lakes, the authors share their practice of curious site explorations. These explorations, both written and visual, consider the nuances and systems of these shorelines along with the lessons these findings might offer for future design and planning interventions. Using the Great Lakes as a context, Five Bay Landscapes illuminates a dynamic and robust landscape system and establishes a series of methods for understanding, analyzing, and intervening within the changing landscape.
In their engaging accounts of shoreline explorations from Lake Superior to Lake Ontario, Karen Lutsky and Sean Burkholder reveal how local circumstances shed light on the complexities and contradictions of North America’s largest freshwater ecosystem. As they go, they pose urgent and timely questions about the capitalist and colonial regimes that have transformed the region—and offer alternative ways of valuing, imagining, and sustaining its extraordinary landscapes. This is important reading for anyone with an interest in the Great Lakes.
Five Bay Landscapes, by two critical thinkers about landscape and place, explores thick and complex narratives on the landscapes of the coastal zone of the Great Lakes. The collected essays challenge readers to think beyond the ideas of design or planning as solving problems or fixing sites, and to interrogate truths that we think we know and the tools and methods we think we understand so we can know more about how to do better. The essays are simultaneously specific in their place-based framing while describing questions that face us locally, regionally, nationally, and even globally. In this the volume is an argument for the productive understanding of places in their complexity and messiness as a way into a more ideal future.
Karen Lutsky is assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota and director of the Great Lakes Design Labs. Her design research and teaching focuses on how landscape architects and designers might better design “with” changing landscapes throughout the Great Lakes Basin, whether it be the quick littoral zone or slow-growing trees. From growing up in Milwaukee to teaching in Minnesota, Lutsky has had the privilege of living in most of the Great Lakes states and calling these waters home.
Sean Burkholder is the Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Both his time spent growing up in Ohio and his two decades of teaching and working in and around the Great Lakes Basin have strongly informed his relationship to the region. Much of his practice and research involves working closely with communities and organizations across the basin on issues of sediment management and coastal adaptation as part of the Healthy Port Futures project.