Circle of Life
4th January 2018

Chartered Member

I am proud to say that as of June 2017 I have become a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute (CMLI), having passed the exam in May 2017. It has been a long climb which started in 2009 but I have got here at last! So, with the exam process now completed my first goal is to ‘put the foot down and accelerate’ towards building a credible profile focused on Landscape Architecture, Sustainability and Well-Being which is at the heart of my ethos.

Making inroads towards building this credibility is to address an important question. A question which is pretty important if I want to be known for sustainability and well-being, and that is…. “What does it mean?”

I think that these two words have often become confused and over-used in that it has diluted the meaning due to the casual use in ‘everyday’ language. It seems as though these words are becoming one of those buzz words we like to hear…

Since being a Landscape Architect I have spent a lot of time trying to understand what it actually means to me:

  • Sustainability? There are different ways to be sustainable. I always thought sustainability was environmental and related to the bigger picture, but this type of sustainability has become pigeon holed as “environmental sustainability”. Also there are now other ways to be sustainable, such as “sustainable economic growth” which is about making money not about the ecological biological systems!
  • As for Well-Being, I understand this to describe a human (or group of humans) as being in a positive state. What has confused me about this word is when I hear “Well-Being indexes”. I don’t understand how we can measure a state of being positive… If someone asked me how much well-being I have rated from 1 -10 I don’t think I would be able to tell you. Would you?

After a long time of trying to make sense of these two words, I have decided to take a step back and not to overthink these definitions. Instead, I think it is better if we identify why we are wanting to use these words in the first place….

I have a theory that the reason we use Sustainability more and more is because of the growing environmental challenges we are starting to face. Whereas with Well-Being, I think this word has become popular because of growing mental health issues within our communities….

My own belief is one of the main reasons Landscape Architects exists – Is to explore the relationship between Humans and Nature. Therefore, as sustainability and well-being issues continue to become a priority I aim to offer insights which meet environmental challenges and health issues in communities from both an innovative and professional approach.

What Happens Next? The What Happens Next project, a project which we set up in 2012, is an expression of my thoughts and theories on sustainability and well-being. In this project we have ambitions to undertake bigger and bigger urban farming and holistic rural design projects. The projects will hopefully prove that a sustainable approach to using urban and rural spaces is not just good for the environment and food security but it is the secret to a positive mental state of mind and achieving community well-being for all!

Click here to see our latest project at What Happens Next.

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