If there is one commonality that the faculty at Temple University Ambler share it is that they most often have years, if not decades, of professional experience to share with their students.
Faculty at Temple are leaders in their chosen fields, dedicated to teaching the next generation of landscape architects, educators, horticulturists, business entrepreneurs, planners, historians and psychologists.
In Temple’s School of Environmental Design, faculty members engage with their communities and professionals in the field in a variety of ways, from beneficial research and design work to taking on leadership roles in professional organizations.
Most recently, Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Baldev Lamba was elected president of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) where he will provide leadership to the top professionals in the field. He was inducted as president elect at the national conference held in Colorado in late 2014.
“I’ve been a member of the ASLA for decades, since 1986. It’s been in recent years that I’ve gotten involved more intensely as part of the chapter’s professional development and education committee,” said Lamba. “I believe in teaching and leading by personal experiences. Since I advocate that students should become active participants in the professional organizations, I wanted to demonstrate this importance with my own involvement and commitment.”
According to Lamba, the PA-DEL chapter of the ASLA is 600 members strong, including 190 student members, which includes a large population of Temple students and alumni.
“As a landscape architecture professor, I’ve always advocated for the profession — I live, teach and breathe this field. Building these connections, encouraging our students as the next leaders in the profession, this was a natural next step,” he said. “Advocacy, is of course an essential part of what the ASLA is all about, advocating for the profession while also advocating and supporting educational and legislative initiatives to make our cities, neighborhoods and communities better places to live.”
As an advocate and leader within the green industry, Lamba is not stopping with just helping to guide seasoned professionals and the next generation of landscape architects. He’s also reaching out to the youngest learners.
He and his wife Marie Lamba’s debut picture book, Green, Green, a celebration of community gardening targeted at young readers, will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. The new children’s book, illustrated by Eisner Award nominee Sonia Sanchez, will be published in time for Earth Day 2016.
“Green, Green reveals how green land grows into a vibrant city and how an unused lot can be made green again. We’re writing it for children from nursery school through sixth grade,” Lamba said. “I had an interest in helping the youngest members of the population understand the landscape architecture profession — everyone knows what an architect does, but landscape architecture, for some, is still a bit of a mystery. I started thinking about community gardens and, more than that, about how we transform the landscape in so many ways.”
Transformation is a topic Lamba explored in the Department of Landscape Architecture’s Best in Show winning 2010 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit “METROmorphosis – Transforming the Urban World.” The exhibit demonstrated ways to increase biodiversity, conserve natural resources and promote local food production, thus transforming the urban landscape.
While Lamba and his wife have collaborated on numerous occasions on articles ranging from gardening to travel, Green, Green is their first foray into children’s literature.
“The book takes the reader on a journey. It starts in beautiful green fields, but then the bulldozers come, transforming the green, natural landscape into a city,” said Lamba. “As time passes, nature begins to reassert itself, reclaiming what was lost — green to gray to green. It’s a very playful book; we wanted to tell the story of our profession to the youngest audience in the most accessible way possible. This age group is so excited to learn; absorbing these concepts and sharing them with others.”
Macmillan Publishing, Lamba said, accepted the concept for the book very quickly in a case of “right topic, right place, right time.”
“Community gardening is happening everywhere — Temple has its own community garden right in the city and urban revitalization is an important aspect of what we are teaching our students,” he said. “We were surprised that there wasn’t already a book on this topic for young children — we’re almost breaking new ground and that’s fun in itself. I never would have thought that I would be a children’s author and this is certainly not something I could have done by myself.”
Ultimately he and his wife hope that their young readers “will come to understand that you can reclaim things that have been lost or put to different uses.”
“There is always this hidden layer of life and landscape just under the surface,” he said. “We can reclaim that and enjoy it once again and that makes all the difference in our communities and in our world.”