Green Landscape Journal: The bat had come in through the 3rd floor window, probably attracted by bugs flying toward our lamps and computer screens. Everyone in the house followed the creature up the stairs and closed off the lower level with the intention of shooing it respectfully back out the window, but that proved more difficult that we had anticipated. Our various methods of trying to catch it were waving pillows, holding up blanket barriers across the room and just making a lot of noise in general (which subsequently woke up the professors downstairs).
Green Landscape Journal: A couple of days ago we, the Greening Geneva interns, had the pleasure of meeting Bertrand Von Arx, the Geneva Regional curator of nature and landscape. He guided us around the grounds of the U.S. Mission and talked about the unique ecology of Geneva. From his presentation we were made aware of the Geneva mascot for biodiversity, the Hedgehog.
Green Landscape Journal: Amazing field trips and long design charrettes have left little time for exploring Geneva, but it turns out that Chambesy, the little neighborhood we currently call home, has a wealth of resources. Monday morning’s field trip took us to another Chambesy gem: the Musee des Suisses dans le Monde at the Chateau de Penthes.
Green Landscape Journal: On Saturday we took a full day trip to Yvoire, France. After working studiously for a whole week (and we did, you better believe it!) we thought we should take a day off. In the morning we boarded the boat on Lac Leman, for a relaxing two hour boat ride to the very quaint town. For being such a small community, we didn’t have trouble finding interesting places and shops to explore. We spent some time on the beach getting our toes wet, and found interesting areas to draw and sketch.
Green Landscape Journal: Although we’ve been working hard at a new plan for the US Mission’s grounds, the bits of time in between have been just as fun. With a group of students and teachers from all over the US, there is a very interesting dynamic. I feel so lucky to have a team with such a wide range of talents and experiences.
We had to make a grocery run so Damon and I hitched a ride down to the Coop with the three French students in their cool car. After having a small hunt for all of the ingredients, we finally checked out and headed back to the house. The French students brought over some wine and cheese which we enjoyed while attempting to cook dinner. Surprisingly, the fajitas were good!
Green Landscape Journal: On Tuesday our group visited the site of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or the IUCN. I was excited to hear that we’d be visiting the IUCN because it is an immense coalition of nonprofit organizations that has been the major player in the conservation of biodiversity, especially in Europe. I remember researching the organization’s work when designing an exhibition about biodiversity as an undergraduate.
Green Landscape Journal: Through the course of the past week, there has been so much activity to get our ideas down to present. We also have had the pleasure of working with some students from HEPIA- Haute École du Paysage, d’Ingénierie et d’Architecture; a Geneva technical school for landscape architecture, engineering, and architecture. The three students have given us so much insight into the local ecosystems that having them on board has been nothing short of excellent. They have also been fantastic in giving critiques to designs. The projects that we presented today would be not nearly as rich had we not had their participation.
The hedgehog is a symbol of biodiversity and connectivity between individual properties in Geneva. Bertrand von Arx, conservationist for the city of Geneva, came the to the mission to help us understand conservation and biodiversity issues in the region as well as to tour us and mission staff members about the mission grounds. While we’d thought we had understood the site pretty well based upon our own site inventory and analysis, Mr. Von Arx pointed out a number of things that we just couldn’t have known, or just hadn’t thought about.
On Sunday August 1st (in varying states of jet lag) we finally converged on Geneva for our two week stint as Landscape Architects for the U.S. mission. The city is incredibly well taken care of; colorful flowers stand out everywhere against the clean streets and sidewalks.