Saturday, April 7, 2012


The annual HOPES (Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability) conference, founded by the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts, works to promote a deeper understanding and broader application of sustainable design principles. Today, it remains the country's only ecological design conference developed and managed entirely by students.

Here’s the A&AA press release:

Dirt is taken for granted –– it is stepped on, bulldozed, cleaned up and swept under the rug. Seldom is dirt viewed as a valued resource, but the 18th annual Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability (HOPES) conference will explore dirt in depth April 13-14 at the University of Oregon. Free and open to the public, the event will be located in Lawrence Hall on the University of Oregon campus, 1190 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene.

With the popularity of "victory gardens" and the "food not lawns" ethic in Oregon, this year’s conference hopes to appeal to the DIY aesthetic and strengthen community ties. Sponsored by the Ecological Design Center at UO, HOPES 18 will investigate the properties and opportunities in dirt, including how we utilize it in food production, construction and otherwise interact with it.

“Many members of the community have their own sustainable projects at home,” says Melissa Hansen of the Ecological Design Center. “We are pleased to have this exchange of ideas with them. This year’s events are hands-on projects people can do on a smaller scale.”

Keynote speakers this year are:

Diana Balmori, a New York City landscape architect, will speak on her new book, A Landscape Manifesto, Friday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. Her projects include New York’s High Line Park, and she is well known for innovation in blurring boundaries between landscape and architecture.

Walter Hood, a San Francisco-area landscape architect and artist, will speak on the social value of design Saturday, April 14, at 10:30 a.m. Known for his landscape/art installation work at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, he specializes in landscapes for disadvantaged communities.

Dan Phillips, a Texas architect who specializes in reclaimed materials, will speak Saturday, April 14, at 4:30 p.m. on "Gentrifying Icky," a process of recycling trash into appealing homes.

Workshops and panels will discuss worm composting, permaculture, earthen finishes, sustainability and urban gardening. Events include a demonstration house tour and work party, a “Trashy Fashion Show,” displays of exotic materials and an open house at the Baker Lighting Lab.

HOPES began in 1995 as a means to promote sustainability and as a way for students and faculty to network with designers. Lectures and workshops may qualify for LEED credential maintenance.

I have yet to attend HOPES; unfortunately, this year will be no exception as I will be out of town during its run. Those of you who have attended previously can attest to the depth and quality of the conference. For detailed information and preregistration, visit HOPES’s Facebook page is at

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