SUSTAINING RESILIENCE IN THE RURAL LANDSCAPE: A CASE STUDY IN COMMUNITY DESIGN

Open Access
Author:
Parker, Sarah Rose
Area of Honors:
Landscape Architecture
Degree:
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Larry James Gorenflo, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stuart Patton Echols, Honors Advisor
  • Kelleann Foster, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • agriculture
  • oregon
  • case study
  • rural
  • landscape architecture
  • sustainability
  • community design
Abstract:
As human populations have grown, so has the intensity of our intervention in the landscape. Since the industrial revolution, these interventions have been increasingly designed to facilitate the needs of the economy, impacting the way societies utilize and are connected to the landscape. Landscape Architecture is a broad field that encompasses all scales of design, and is not limited to the aesthetic. The physical composition of elements within the landscape has tremendous impact both on ecosystem function and community dynamics. Since the industrial revolution, human interventions in the landscape have encouraged commerce beyond the human scale, degraded local and global ecologies, undermined communities (both rural and urban), and contributed to epidemics of disease, food insecurity, and mass instability. In the rural United States, a shift in the way land uses are arranged and emphasized can simultaneously restore ecological function and community resilience, creating rural landscapes that are more diverse, independent, and capable of supporting each other. Many rural communities simply lack an infrastructure for community-scale action; they have become dependent on larger networks of production, processing, and distribution. This thesis attempts to demonstrate that by utilizing design to build relevant local infrastructures, rural communities can be strengthened through place making. Chapter 1 of the thesis is an account of the impacts past design and policy decisions have made on the landscape. Chapter 2 details specific impacts to rural communities. Chapter 3 puts forward strategies to retrofit rural communities in order to foster resilience and sustainability. Chapter 4 and Appendices describe a case study undertaken to inventory and analyze the specific factors affecting the Williams Creek Watershed in Southern Oregon and the design steps proposed to revitalize the community.