Designing With Compassion

Quincy Tobin

César Torres-Bustamante

March 2021

Compassion is necessary in Landscape Architecture as it expands upon empathy. When designing with compassion, we empathize with site, user, plant, person and we work with them to solve a problem. Our field, although generally good-intentioned, is in need of improved education in order to prepare designers to intentionally engage with the people and world around them. This project is an essay-based exploration of what it truly means to be a steward in a colonized society - recognizing that one can be a steward to their community as well as the environment. As designers, we are shaping the world around us, which ultimately shapes us. This is an incredible responsibility that should require fully informed decision making.

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ABOUT ME

Hi! My name is Quincy Tobin (they / them) and I’m from Alameda, Ca. I subscribe to the belief that inclusive communities and symbiotic relationships with the natural world are two major concepts that ground us as inhabitants of this world. It is my goal to foster and expand upon these principles not only among peers and professionals, but through design as well. I am a student with a passion for ecologically and culturally sustainable communities - interested in the intersection of psychology, anthropology, activism, and design.

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This diagram shows the analogous relationship between the oppression of femmes and the destruction of our ecosystems under capitalism.

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The third colonized lens views nature and femininity as forces to be feared.

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Intersectional Feminism + Design

The first pillar of my explorations is the role of intersectional feminism and design. The oppression of femininity and the mistreatment of the earth are inherently tied. The ways in which the patriarchy has oppressed femmes and mistreated the land have the same roots. My work dissects this phenomenon and looks towards ways we can design for gender equity and environmental justice through a gender constructivist lens.

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The above image is an aerial view of a case study in Elk Rapids, Michigan. Currently, residents of a low-income housing community are forced to walk along the highway to access the town center. Current conditions are shown left, and proposed intervention is seen on the right.

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This diagram shows the analogous relationship between the oppression of BIPOC and the destruction of our ecosystems under capitalism.

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De-Weaponizing the Landscape

The second pillar of my explorations examines the ways in which the landscape has been weaponized against marginalized communities under capitalism as well as design’s potential to de-weaponize our current landscape.

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The above image is an aerial view of a case study of Godfrey Park in Alameda, California. Godfrey is currently under scrutiny for its racist namesake. I am currently working alongside friends and peers in my hometown to rename and redesign this park.

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This diagram shows the relationship between colonization and capitalism.

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Decolonizing Stewardship

The third pillar of my explorations dissects the western notion of stewardship and expands on its potential to be an anticolonial tool. I argue that to be a true steward is to see the land not as an amalgamation of what we have proclaimed to be “natural resources,” but instead a state of living intentionally with the earth. A combination of western science and Indigenous wisdom is what will save us.