BSLA Fieldbook BSLA 2015 Spring Fieldbook - Page 48

BSLA / MEMBER KATE KENNEN, ASLA LIFELONG LEARNING... AND PASS IT ALONG “H ow much longer are you going to be?” My husband shouts up the stairs to my home office for the third time this evening. “Only about an hour.” I reply. “So I should count on two?” he retorts.. “Probably, but I’ll take the weekend off!” I promised. He knows me better than I know myself; once I get into something work-related, I’m hyperfocused and will likely work longer than I thought. This conversation has played over and over in my house during the past two years while writing a book, managing a landscape architecture practice, teaching a class at the GSD, and having a baby all at the same time. Why would someone do such a thing? Passion for landscape architecture? Desire to have no free time? Baby aside, the truth is that I work a lot because I love what I do. I know it’s a cliché, but researching and designing with plants is not only my job, it’s my hobby. I grew up on my dad’s small garden center in central Massachusetts ( and you could say that horticulture is in my blood. I’m into the latest cultivars of Salix, and my worm bin in my basement gets more attention than our last cat. It’s pathetic, but I’m entranced by plant species of all kinds. So ten years ago, when I heard about these “freakish” plants that could eradicate environmental pollutants, of course I was all in. My first design commission when I started Offshoots, Inc. (previously Kennen Landscape Architecture) happened to be a former gas station, polluted with petroleum and lead. Phytoremediation quickly became a research area of interest. I started reading journal articles (that were a “translating” challenge), called scientists to help me understand what they actually were saying (what does phytotransformation really mean?), and started attending the yearly conference of the International Phytotechnologies Society. I didn’t have any funding or project dollars to do this, I just decided that I’d like to learn more about the subject. I called up Niall Kirkwood, a 46 BSLA