Official SUNY ESF DLA Off-Campus Blog

new relationships with our stuff by esfdla
December 13, 2010, 10:53 am
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

The image above is the visual piece that accompanies a blog posting based on American’s love of “stuff”.  To read the full blog post, and learn more about creative action for collective good, visit The Living Principals blog. Award winning product designer Yves Behar says it best –

“As designers we need to really think about how we can create a different relationship with our work and the world…I think it’s the values that we put into projects that ultimately create the greater value.”

In relation to the landscape, our stuff has to go somewhere.  Projects should be focused on the creation of timeless spaces, replacing the quick fix approaches that will require maintenance in the future.  As we get closer to 2011, the out of sight / out of mind mentality becomes more outdated and must come to an end.  Living from a suitcase for the past seven months has brought a fresh outlook to previous dependency on my “stuff”.

Until next time,



barrier beach at chilmark pond by esfdla
December 9, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

An artificial opening is excavated yearly so that the brackish water of Chilmark Pond darkly stained by tannins can reach the ocean and recirculate.  The water depth of the pond is significantly shallower in the months following the yearly opening excavation.














The area is a topographical low point in the area, as made evident by the map above.  The Chilmark Pond area, and the 200 feet of barrier beach are owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission.   Surrounded by private property and beaches, the section of beach owned by the Land Bank is only accessible by canoe or kayak via Chilmark Pond.  The area is frequented by bird enthusiasts, swimmers, hikers, and fishermen.  The frequency of use, access point to the public beach, and improved water health justify the yearly to excavation to island residents.

Until next time,


community character areas – the final document by esfdla
December 7, 2010, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

During the next two weeks, my colleague and I will be formatting and producing our final document focused on community character areas of Martha’s Vineyard.  The image above is the visual piece for the cover of the project.  Once the document has been produced, it will be posted on the blog in full.

Live well and be well,


urban play by esfdla
December 6, 2010, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Copenhagen 2010

Too often we take the approach of  designing “undesirable” activities such as skateboarding out of the landscape, instead of designing the activity into appropriate urban spaces.  When moving through the urban landscape on any form of wheels other than the automobile, surroundings are processed as opportunity.  To someone who skates, a loading dock, set of stairs, and ramps are seen as an opportunity to experience the cityscape in a way a pedestrian cannot.  The video above illustrates this point as skaters move throughout the urban environment of Copenhagen.  The video also illustrates the urban character of Copenhagen.  Take a moment to notice the material choices, public art and sculpture, and how the sun light reflects against the structures.

Indtil næste gang,


mv high school area community planning charette by esfdla
December 6, 2010, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

The community design charette for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School was held in 2006 with the intent of using community voices to most effectively develop the area around the school.  The charette was sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen, town planning board, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.  To read a full report of the charette including the project background, goals, requirements, and community needs table, please click here. A total of 35 residents participated in the charette and were divided into five teams.  Below are the responses and program highlights from each team.

  • Create pedestrian trail to Featherstone Art Center
  • Place affordable housing in the North East corner behind ice arena
  • Develop shared parking between ice arena and YMCA










  • Develop new road between residential area and ice arena
  • Leave Community Services building as it currently is
  • Pave existing parking on east and south sides of YMCA building

  • Cluster key recreational buildings with shared parking for all
  • Place courtyard in front of YMCA so all activities can be seen
  • Implement two pedestrian cross walks, one at current access road and one at skate park

  • Encourage YMCA employees to park behind building
  • Create a small look road and bus stop off of main road
  • Split parking into 4 or 5 groups with trees planted in between

  • Maintain housing along east side of ice arena
  • Create a main pedestrian access point from High School to facilities across the road
  • Develop a parking lot next to the YMCA and ice arena to serve both facilities

Nearly four years after the charette was completed, the YMCA and surrounding area have been developed.  The initial ideas generated in the charette are reflected in the construction documents for the area produced by Amsler Mashek MacLean Architects of Boston, Massachusetts. The YMCA site plan is pictured below.

Until next time,


the food we eat is the landscape we create by esfdla
December 6, 2010, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

Edible Vineyard is a magazine focused on the people who create, are inspired by, and taste the best of  local foods on Martha’s Vineyard.  The magazine is published quarterly and includes compelling authors, smart land use and design choices, and most importantly where to purchase and how to prepare local foods.  Edible Vineyard currently has 60 Island distributors, and each island library has a collection of past issues.  Perhaps the most successful part of the publication, Edible Vineyard brings eating locally to a mainstream scale.  It provides information on restaurants, grocery stores, farms, and catering services all serving locally raised foods island-wide.  Visit the Edible Vineyard Blog for more information.

Live well and enjoy good foods,


the moon jelly by esfdla
December 6, 2010, 10:12 am
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

While exploring beaches in the town of Aquinnah over the weekend, several Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita ) were discovered washed ashore on north-side beaches.  Thousands of the transparent jellyfish species were scattered across the shore.  As seen in the photograph below, it was perplexing yet oddly beautiful as the sun reflected against the beached Moon Jellies.

The significant wash ashore this time of year can be attributed to many factors.  The Moon Jelly remains at the surface of the ocean to take advantage of the highest concentration of phytoplankton.  Motion of the species is limited to one direction, and drifting with ocean currents.  Warm end of season ocean temperatures leave the species more susceptible to bacterial infection, disease, and low levels of tissue repair.  In the wild, the Moon Jellyfish lifespan is six months, while in captivity the species lives for years.  To better understand the movement patterns of the species, there is a short video clip from the Vancouver Aquarium below.

Lifelessly reflecting sunlight on miles of beaches, there are no plans to remove the jellyfish from the landscape.  Odorless, the jellyfish will eventually decompose or be taken back out to sea with the incoming tide.

Until next time,