Rooted in Chicago

Landscape Architecture Option Studio / Spring 2021 / Ethan McGory and Paula Meijerink

Rooted in Chicago, a project by Jeffrey Haussler, Ellie Frey, Michael McCoy, Roshni Nair from Ethan McGory and Paula Meijerink’s Trees for All People studio was featured on the Green New Deal Superstudio site. The project was one of just 55 projects selected out of the 670 submitted.

The practice of redlining has created starkly color‐coded neighborhoods in the city of Chicago that have far‐reaching implications on the income, education levels, health, and life expectancy of citizens, especially for People of Color. Often, the practice of investment in green‐lined areas, leads to the decline of red‐lined areas, compounding the effects of race and class division in Chicago. By analyzing and critiquing demographic data and current policies, we seek to propose a more radical approach to providing redlined areas with increased tree canopy, and social and economic equity.

See more at The Green New Deal Superstudio

Trees for All People

This studio examines racial inequality in urban tree canopy and quality of life in Midwestern cities. It studies the legal and historical roots of these inequities and proposes new legislation to create more just and sustainable cities. Students examined correlations in urban tree canopy, race, income, education, impervious surfaces, and health in five major cities in the Midwest: Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee. They found that the livability, ecological function, and comfort of neighborhoods throughout these cities are strongly correlated to the race, income, and education of their residents. People of color are more likely to live in areas with fewer trees, lower life expectancy, and experience more health problems than white neighborhoods. Students found that these differences were caused by legislation, redlining, highway construction, and other intentional governmental acts.

In these projects, students illustrate these findings through maps, graphics, charts, and tables that tell the unique story of injustice in each of these cities. This studio considered legislation as a creative act that can combat these injustices and forward ideals of the Green New Deal: increasing canopy cover, creating jobs, and fostering more equitable and sustainable communities. The students’ legislative solutions are varied, based on the specific problems, opportunities, and unique character of each city. The nature of these solutions ranges from new development codes to neighborhood tree steward programs, tax incentives, urban tree nurseries, and more. We hope that the work of this studio will help create cities that are more just and sustainable and encourage more landscape architects to take a role in the development of legislation.