Voices of Impact: Assessing the Felt Impacts of Open-Pit Gold and Copper Mining in British Columbia

Northern British Columbia is rapidly becoming one of the largest open-pit gold and copper mining regions in the world. Salmon bearing river systems connect communities of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, supporting rich ecological diversity. Subsistence lifestyles that have supported First Nations people for over 10,000 years are in jeopardy as a result of irresponsible mining practices and inadequate public consultation. The rapid growth of this extraction industry has compromised downstream fishing economies, cultural traditions and identities that depend on healthy rivers and landscapes. This project uses story mapping as a tool to analyze the impacts experienced by people in the watershed and highlight the need for bringing more human experience into environmental impact assessments.

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Marking Risk and Response: Design Interventions to Support Citizen Science Monitoring of the Trans Mountain Pipelines

How can community-based monitoring create much needed visibility and oversight of buried tar sands pipelines that traverse human and non-human communities? The Trans Mountain Pipeline conveys up to 12.6 million gallons of diluted bitumen per day from the Athabasca tar sands of Alberta to ports in Vancouver (British Columbia) and Washington State, with construction underway on a second, paralleling pipeline that triples capacity. Meanwhile, the communities through which these pipelines invisibly pass possess little knowledge about how these pipelines are monitored or the results of that monitoring, despite an extensive history of spills. This thesis imagines a landscape architecture practice that contributes to citizen science monitoring through systems thinking, community engagement, and physical design. An adaptable design framework is proposed, where a network of citizen scientists insert site-responsive interventions into the landscape, which mark pipeline, social network, monitoring activity, and data. The result is greater legibility of physical interactions between pipeline, ecologies, and human communities. This mode of landscape architecture contributes to a growing community-based movement that challenges dominant paradigms of opaque infrastructure monitoring, whereby corporate data is shrouded within what Science and Technology Studies scholar Sara Ann Wylie calls “regimes of imperceptibility.”1

See the project issuu page.

1. Sara Ann Wylie, Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), 36.

A Bouquet of Benefits: Floriculture and Ecosystem Gifts in an Urban Industrial Zone

The floral industry is at once global and personal. Although ephemeral and impractical, humans have smiled at a simple gift of a cut-flower for thousands of years and spent countless hours cultivating and cherishing the color and form of this essential plant part. Regional floriculture in the western United States is robust, with floral farms all along the west coast, yet the US still imports over 75% of cut-flowers from South America. This contributes to global carbon emissions and landscape contamination.  Local-based solutions can reduce environmental impact, provide an experience of place, and connect consumers to local flora. Many flowering plants possess the ability to filter pollutants out of contaminated soil (phytoremediation), and there are a possible few that could continue their lives as cut-flowers or waste by-products. Urban farmers faced with contaminated urban soil may find a solution in this industrial, ecological proposal.

This landscape architecture design research thesis proposes suitable floral species for a “phyto-to-market system” and an urban floral farm and phytoremediation demonstration garden. This design is situated within an existing industrial “Flower District” network in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. If implemented, it could be a testing bed for phytoremediation, provide a new relationship to bouquets, provide safer routes for pedestrians between the park and bus routes, and provide an opportunity for urban farmers to remediate their soil while making a profit at the local farmers market. I invite you to learn more about my project in this PDF presentation or in the linked two-minute video walk through.

Read more about Elizabeth’s work at ourfutureenvironment.org.