Working Within Nested Scales.

Project versus Practice.

Most work as a designer or planner is defined by projects. A paying client’s ownership boundaries determine the project scope and focus until contract terms are met. This is how things get built; a result of land management by parcelization, commodification, and owned liability.

Emerging Terrain’s first self-initiated “project,” Stored Potential, quickly taught us that boundaries continually shift in proactive practice. Since we define what we will act on, the terms of service are different than typical design work. Our “clients” are those who are part of the process by choice or circumstance. Collaborators are clients through engagement, rather than purchase of a service. The terms of research are different than academia, because our research connects multiple scales of inquiry, exposing where we need to act next. A project has a definitive start and end, whereas practice is responsively ongoing. We know we are on the right track when one initiative leads to others at different, nested, scales of inquiry. We like this way of operating because it reflects how landscapes actually function, regardless of legal boundaries inscribed by humans.