The blog may have been resting, but Emerging Terrain certainly has not! For one, you may notice we have a new website. By consolidating everything ET into a single virtual home we hope it will be easier to learn about, follow, and be involved with us. We also have been busy with our new physical home. A definite work in progress, 1717 Vinton has begun to transform from a carpet shop to a space with the capacity to host ideas, collaboration and making things happen. Please stop in for a tour and cup of coffee.

To fully utilize these new spaces, we are excited to announce the inaugural year of the Urban Design Fellowship Program with the addition of three new fellows, including myself, Kayla Meyer. We will spend the next year invigorating Omaha’s overlooked spaces– each taking the lead on a current ET project while coming together to initiate and develop new ones within the mission of Emerging Terrain. Nick Rebeck is taking the lead on Trug: Leavenworth with fabrication of the 18-week installation underway. Sara Hieb is jumping into Shifting Thresholds, mapping and conducting driving interviews with residents on the suburban/rural edges of the city. My project is Stored Potential: the addition of 13 new banners to the grain elevator and a coinciding event, Elevate… I try to understand as a once outside observer–now fully engaged–although I was not there myself, photos and first-hand accounts of the on-site Harvest Dinner; proving obvious the new banners require an equally proportionate and relevant celebration. The iconic banners about Land Use, Food and Agriculture were well complemented with a locally sourced and produced dinner on a sunny day in October that those in attendance seem to have emerged from with a bond with one another, with the food they ate, and with the barren industrial space transformed for one day. For the new banners about Tranport(ation), the Harvest Dinner could not simply be recreated, a new type of intervention would need to expand the discourse and experience.

The event considers transportation infrastructure through an unlikely collaboration and teaming of foodies and designers. It is the opportunity for a fusion of those who shape our spatial and food landscapes to create an entirely new experience. On June 3, Elevate will further the conversation of both banner topics: Land Use, Food, Agriculture and Transport(ation) with a gathering on the 36th street bridge within the I-80 corridor. The bridge offers a full view of the entire grain elevator, provides a commentary on transportation infrastructure: I-80 clipped and decommissioned the elevator, made two neighborhoods from one, and produced a massive flow of goods though the city. An adaptation of a single-purpose bridge, Elevate is a rethinking of the way we view and use our public spaces. Representing local and both coasts, foodies and designers will design and construct ‘elevation stations’ creating a series of unique spatial and food experiences along the length of the bridge. The stations are representations of our landscape and conversation starters meant to play into the spontaneity that the situation and atmosphere presents.

Last weekend, all 20 chef and designer teams, including several flying in from the coasts, presented preliminary ideas for stations and menus. It was not surprising that each team approached their 14’ x 20‘ space on a bridge differently. It is always amazing what is generated when creative people are posed with unprecedented challenges and opportunities.  From structures made of melting ice and even a team who has already deconstructed a barn for building materials, proving the event a worthwhile undertaking.

Although my new position with Emerging Terrain places me in a different relationship with the landscape architecture in which I was trained, I am looking forward to the next year of generating new forms of being in and seeing our city. Not only do I hope my contribution will create enjoyable spontaneity and creative adaptation, but ultimately a larger view of how urban space might be more useable, gregarious, and democratic.