About the Designer

Laurie Tanenbaum

Laurie Tanenbaum: Designer, Project Manager
Masters Degree-Conway School of Environmental Landscape Design (www.CSLD.edu)

My interest in sustainable landscape design grows out of a life of art, gardening, and the politics of social justice.

As a child and young adult my second home was Circle Pines Center, a 360 acre cooperative and summer camp in Michigan. Summers were spent on work projects including building roads and cabins, learning a wide variety of arts taught by professional artists, caring for the huge organic vegetable garden that fed us, and playing our hearts out. Environmentalists shared their enthusiasm for the land and taught us how to care for the huge pine groves. Astronomers taught about the skies and campers were awed by what could be seen through the telescope. Civil right and labor activists worked side by side with us and told us the stories of the movements for change. The playgrounds were the wild flower fields and the mysteries of the forests.

I am part of the movements for social & political justice, and my employment included gardening with former mental patients, and collective bargaining representative in health care.

Gardening has always been part of my life, from trying to grow pickles as a seven year old, to flower boxes on the third floor balcony, and finally having my own home site to landscape.

The decision to study and practice sustainable landscape design was really the convergence of all of the above. The Conway School of Environmental Design was the experience that linked up the environment with the social justice movement, the combining of the beauty of color and texture, the enjoyment of good collaboration with the an eye for design.

I enjoy assisting others in creating a healthy dream for their space. In my neighborhood I am the design/horticulture professional for the Paseo Prairie Garden (see Portfolio), a community project that has turned a neglected piece of land into a "neighborhood jewel," utilizing only plants and grasses of the Illinois prairie. I've collaborated with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and parents of several schools to landscape their playgrounds and create gardening space for the pre-schoolers.


"No landscape so evokes the American past as the prairie...."

Jim Wilson, author of 'Landscaping With Wildflowers'

Native Illinois Plants