People [Happenings]

Periodically MaineASLA’s newsletter will provide a feature focus on ASLA member landscape architects’ endeavors in their “spare” time outside the office. Many volunteer their time and talents to support community goals and initiatives, and to generally make Maine a better place.

Libbytown Streetscape

Libbytown Streetscape

Nick and Caitlin Aceto of Aceto Landscape Architects (ALA), an ideas-based, Portland design studio have been rolling up their sleeves, getting involved, and working closely with their home neighborhood association (Libbytown, Portland District 5) in Portland.

Primary among their efforts have been:

  • Leading community visualization and concept generation for a revitalized Congress Street corridor. Refining and giving shape to ideas rooted in the “Case for Growth” initiative in 2017, ALA looked at remediating I-295 impacts, reclaiming “lost” lands, and creating a vibrant urban environment.

  • Envisioning Dougherty Field park improvements. In 2018, ALA's concept for an adventure playground at Dougherty Field helped the neighborhood access more than $130,000 in CDBG funds.

Dougherty Field Playground

Dougherty Field Playground

Are you an ASLA member with a project that  you would like featured?  Please send us (  your summary and a few photos to be considered for future newsletters!

Bar Harbor Streetscape Makeover

Story by: Larry Johannesman, ASLA and MaineDOT Landscape Architect

Story by: Larry Johannesman, ASLA and MaineDOT Landscape Architect

Construction is wrapping up this spring on the two-year old Bar Harbor project and will be ready for the summer tourist season. MaineDOT, the Town, the Village Improvement Association, the National Park Service and other community partners all contributed to transforming the corridor to promote better traffic flow and make it safer for all users. Major streetscape improvements were also completed for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Route 3 construction followed recent wayfinding signage improvements throughout the downtown by the Town in partnership with the Acadia All-American Road – one of Maine’s Scenic Byways.

Bar Harbor Map

Significant changes can be seen in the Hulls Cove area. There’s a new sidewalk for people to make their way safely on foot to Acadia National Park and enjoy the spectacular open ocean views on the way.   

new sidewalk

The narrow, steep grades above Hulls Cove created design challenges. The historic Hulls Cove Schoolhouse road frontage property was completely wiped out and new retaining walls, fencing and a garden were put back. Across the street, to avoid a significant bank cut and save trees, the steep bank was protected with a rockery slope using local granite.

local granite rockery slope

The spectacular bluffs area directly alongside Acadia National Park will now have a wide shoulder for improved pull-off parking to enjoy the ocean views. Brown painted guardrail was used instead of the standard shiny galvanized.

pull-off parking

Closer to downtown, the new 10’ wide multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists replaces the wrinkled, failing, narrow sidewalk. The new path will allow safe, easy movement on foot or bike back and forth between the large hotels and downtown. There’s new sidewalk on the other side of Route 3 and both sides will have new Island Explorer bus stops. Native plantings will be used along the path in front of College of the Atlantic to screen campus parking and a few small buildings. Many of the trees removed to make room for the path will be replaced with disease resistant elms and other native trees.

native plantings

Just beyond the college on the north side of Route 3, numerous historic granite pillars had to be removed for construction.  As you can see in the photos below, these pillars were disassembled, new footings poured and then rebuilt on the adjacent property preserving a significant landscape element in this part of town.

Maine DOT construction

Near the terminus of the MaineDOT construction project The Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association created a small park at the intersection of West and Eden Streets. The photos below show the park plan and workers installing the pavers for the fountain area and Fire of 1947 Memorial spot. This special spot known as DeGregoire Green will allow visitors and town residents to rest and get back away from the busy intersection. Interpretive signage and benches will be placed along the walkway.


The "Buzz" is Beautiful

Photos and Story by Larry Johannesman, ASLA

Photos and Story by Larry Johannesman, ASLA

One calm summer morning a few years back, I bounded out the door headed to the car when it hit me. I glanced towards my garden bench and thought STOP!  Do not let this peaceful, lovely “morning moment” pass by as usual.  So, I embraced this odd thought usually reserved for evenings or weekends and sat down on the rickety little bench in my small dooryard garden.

Within just a few moments, as I looked around at the plants, what seemed like a dead silent landscape, was absolutely buzzing with life. Sure, the “Buzz” included the usual wasp cruising by and a bumble bee hovering, but to my amazement there were so many other types of insects flying, hovering, crawling and darting about the plants and flowers all around me. For sure - not a single one of these creatures cared about me.

My Garden Bench

As a landscape architect who cherishes plants, I thought I knew pretty well what many of us are excited about and how the “Buzz” is truly a significant and beautiful thing,  but now I really knew. It was time to do more about planting natives and encouraging pollinators everywhere and in ways I didn’t imagine before. So, with that in mind I wanted to share some information with you that’s helping me do more.

My colleague and MaineDOT Statewide Vegetation Manager Bob Moosmann worked with Heather McCargo of the Maine-based Wild Seed Project and many others to promote greater supplies of native plant seeds and to encouarge roadsides as places for pollinators to thrive.  

Check out Bob’s article in Maine Trails Magazine (February – March 2018, page 53) to learn about the roadside movement happening at MaineDOT.

The effort was primarily to determine native plant species best suited for roadside native plant restoration. The project culminated in a simple, valuable guide which as many plant “guides” go - can be used for other applications we dream up. You can download the guide by clicking here.

Roadside Flowers

Now, I am not an expert on pollinators or native plants, but there’s no question bees and other pollinators are critical to plant reproduction, our food supply and to so many things we love about our landscapes. The “Buzz” on this subject matter can come at us from many angles and a notion like: use only natives to help pollinator populations can be misleading. So, lots of guidance can be found here in the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

There are many, many places to get native plant species information, but one of my favorites for the way it can take you right down the “that’s an interesting plant rabbit hole” is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. Click here and go to a page listing native plants suitable for Maine landscapes to pick one you’re not familiar with and give it a test run on a project or in your own garden.

Our newsletter sponsor Pierson Nurseries has a List of Native Plants they sell here in Maine. Try the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Native Plant Database list or the University of Connecticut’s New England Native plants page to discover a few different plants.


Another fun and challenging way to engage in discovering the best plants for pollinators is to take a walk in an unfamiliar Maine landscape and use your smartphone to snap photos of mystery plants buzzing with insects. Photos in pocket, we can head back to the office to identify them. An easy on-line plant ID key I discovered is The New England Wildflower Society’s Go Botany - Simple Key. Try it out by clicking here.

I have always marveled at insects, but discovered late in life that this multitude of important creatures are “invisible” to us because we live in a different realm. We are truly connected to them and I’d like to think the questions of What native plants will we use?  and What pollinators are we trying to attract?  will go near the top of our lists to accomplish when we begin to design our projects.

Hopefully, some of the resources presented here are new or prove useful and you might nod in agreement that indeed - The “Buzz” is Beautiful.

Maine Chapter Formation: Let’s Continue the Dialogue!

Chapter Meeting Summary Flyer v4.jpg

Summer is over and time to get back to work! The excellent conversation around forming a Maine ASLA Chapter began in June at the Chapter Exploration event at USM Portland.  Is it time statewide to demonstrate our commitment to Maine’s unique brand of landscape architecture practice? The energized group of Maine LA’s and Landscape Designers focused on the exciting possibilities – and challenges.  So, where do we go with it, now?

We will be conducting a series of three webinars over the coming months focused on the different aspects of chapter formation. These webinars will be geared to inform those who weren’t able to attend the June event, and as a recap for those who did, giving us all a chance for wider, more inclusive dialogue. Each session will be planned for approximately one hour each, and generally cover the following:

  • Background and Overview Chapter Formation in Maine: How did we get here?

  • Benefits of Chapter Formation: What’s in it for us?

  • Mechanics of Chapter Formation: How do we make it happen?

We plan to schedule these roughly every two months during regular business hours in a “GoToMeeting” or “Zoom” type of setting, allowing unfettered access from where you practice, and enabling ease of interaction and response. At the conclusion of these sessions next spring, Maine ASLA members will be called upon to vote “go/no-go” concerning Chapter formation, a two-thirds vote “yes” will be required to start the process.  We whole-heartedly encourage and want non-ASLA members to join the webinars and discussions, as that will provide valuable input for the ASLA members who are voting. If you are at all considering joining ASLA please do in the first half of 2019 so your vote can be counted!

Be on the lookout for more information and dates in future newsletters and e-blasts!

In the meantime click here for information on ASLA membership benefits.

October 3rd, 2018: MaineASLA Bicycle Facilities Design Training Session with “On·Bike” Component

MaineASLA is organizing an on-bike training session lead by Jim Tasse, PhD. Jim is a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (LCI, #1308) and the Education Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM). Through his work with BCM, he has expanded and professionalized the bicycle education program run in partnership with MaineDOT. 

This training session will be geared toward landscape architects and engineers who design public transportation facilities.

The three-hour session includes:

  • Introduction and goal setting activity.

  • Review of AASHTO, NACTO, PACTS design guidelines and strategies for accommodation, including MaineDOT Complete Streets and LCP policies.

  • Bicycles and helmets with basic road safety instruction.

  • On-Bike, 4-5 mile bicycle conditions assessment ride with short learning stops.

  • Follow-up discussion on facilities design, roadway comfort and perceived safety.


Measurable Learning Objectives

Participants who take this training will be able to:

  • Identify and describe basic facilities that meet national design guidelines for bicycle accommodation, including bike lanes, SLMs, and multi-use paths.

  • Describe the minimum and preferred operating space for bicycle riders.

  • Evaluate roadway and shoulder conditions for safe and comfortable bicycle operation.

  • Identify roadway and pavement hazards to bicycle operation.

  • Explain why people on bicycles sometimes need to use more of a travel lane for safety.

  • Explain the effect that lane width and motor vehicle speed have on perceived safety and comfort.


The session cost is $25.00 for ASLA members and $50.00 for non-members. CEU credits will be available. The event is co-sponsored by MaineDOT.

Location and Time

PACTS Building, 970 Baxter Boulevard, Portland, ME

1:00pm - 4:00pm


Other Details

Please dress appropriately for light athletic activity and the weather for the day.

Rain date of October 10th.

Register Here


July 20-22: Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf Movie Screening

Friday, July 20th at 2PM and 6 PM

Saturday, July 21st at 2 PM

Sunday, July 22nd at 2 PM

Presented with The Portland Society for ArchitectureMaineASLA is pleased to partner with the Portland Museum of Art to bring this exquisite film to Maine this summer. This film promises to be an incredible visual and inspirational experience. Movies like this at PMA only come around once.

The documentary, Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, immerses viewers in Oudolf's work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.

Intimate discussions take place through all fours seasons in Piet's own gardens at Hummelo, and on visits to his signature public works in New York, Chicago, and the Netherlands, as well as to the far-flung locations that inspire his genius, including desert wildflowers in West Texas and post-industrial forests in Pennsylvania.

Piet Oudolf has radically redefined what gardens can be. As Rick Darke, the famous botanist, says to Piet in the film, "your work teaches us to see what what we have been unable to see." Through poetic cinematography and unique access, Five Seasons will reveal all that Piet sees, and celebrate all that we as viewers have been unable to see.

Buy tickets here

CLARB ASLA Summit: Why this is Important to Maine LA Licensure

Summit participants were joined by Columbus City Councilwoman Jaiza Page and two city council staff members for a site tour of the award-winning Scioto River Greenways Project.

Summit participants were joined by Columbus City Councilwoman Jaiza Page and two city council staff members for a site tour of the award-winning Scioto River Greenways Project.

ASLA and the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) co-hosted for the first time a joint Licensure Summit, in June in Columbus, Ohio.

The Summit focused on building effective relationships between ASLA chapters and state licensing boards to enhance licensure education and defense. Participants included nearly 90 individuals representing over 40 states and CLARB jurisdictions. Terry DeWan was invited to attend on behalf of CLARB as a previous member of the Board of Directors.

The event opened with a debrief on the 2018 state legislative session and its unprecedented efforts to reform occupational licensure – through deregulation, broad sweeping licensure board reviews, interstate compacts for temporary licensure, and Right to Earn a Living Act bills. The session included firsthand observations from boards and chapters that have worked together successfully to address these challenges.

There were many success stories from the participants regarding challenges to licensure. Here are a few ideas that MaineASLA should all be considering:

Review the Best Practices for State Licensure Board–ASLA Chapter Relationships. While not all practices will be applicable to Maine, there’s a wealth of experience that should be considered.

• Establish and cultivate relationships with legislators. Make sure they understand the scope and significance of our practice.  Invite them on tours. Send them copies of Landscape Architecture magazine.  Invite them to project openings. Become THE person to contact with questions on our profession.

• Lobbyists!  MSLA may want to consider retaining a lobbyist to be on standby. We heard from many speakers about how effective a partner they were in uncovering legislation, establishing relationships, understanding positions, and guiding action.

• If you haven’t seen it, get a copy of the Blue Book: Landscape Architecture Licensure Handbook, Ensuring Safe, Healthy, and Resilient Natural and Built Environments. It’s an outstanding resource available through ASLA.

• Remember to say Thank You to all who participate in any activity relative to licensure.

Anyone can visit ASLA’s Advocacy Tools Page for toolkits and many other additional resources to help carry out an effective chapter advocacy program. Also, be sure to search for #LicensureSummit on Twitter for a fun and informative recap of event!

Do We Have What It Takes to Form an ASLA Chapter?

Chapter Meeting Summary Flyer v4.jpg

What happens when almost 20 landscape architects gather to grapple with the question of forming our own Maine chapter of ASLA on a Saturday in June? A whole lot of energetic, frank, and honest dialogue, that’s what! Read on to learn what your LA peers are thinking about the future of our professional organization in Maine, and what it might mean for you…

Excitement and anticipation were in the air, starting the preceding evening with a small focus group (and beer and pizza!) that gathered at a local eatery in Portland to meet Julia Lent, Hon. ASLA, and Managing Director of Member and Chapter Services for ASLA National. Joining the group also was Randy Knowles, current president of the NH Granite State Chapter. Setting the stage for the Saturday sessions, the primary discussion focused on the “reality factor” of calving off from the Boston chapter and starting our own independent one.

The Saturday morning session focused on a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis of chapter formation. The accompanying graphic highlights some of the most frequently occurring ideas. The afternoon was spent diving into the weeds about what the mechanics of chapter formation would entail.

Clearly, the fact that Maine LA’s are small in number in an extra-large state poses additional hurdles. We are spread out, tend to be working in smaller firms or are sole practitioners, making involvement in a professional organization challenging in terms of time and resources. Many may not associate value with involvement in ASLA, leading to lack of interest.

The potential benefits to both the profession and the state, though, became more tangible through discussion. Leveraging available resources from National ASLA could enable increased promotion of the profession in Maine through public awareness and advocacy initiatives, giving us the opportunity to collectively address design and planning issues critical to our state, and getting ourselves out there in front of potential clients, to boot. Opportunities to collaborate with allied professionals, educational outreach in our schools, and multiple options for professional development, could further build our professional strength, bringing value to our members, clients, and communities.

A series of meetings around the state are being planned this fall and early winter to engage those who couldn’t make it to Portland for the June sessions. We want to take the discussion to you to make sure we are hearing all voices before making a final commitment to chapter formation. This is all about you, and us – all of us together. We look forward to continuing the dialogue. Be on the lookout for more information and details to follow.


MaineASLA Chapter Exploration


Saturday June 9, 2018 in Portland

Greetings Maine Landscape Architects!  We need YOUR input about forming a NEW MaineASLA CHAPTER! Come join your colleagues in discussing the pro’s and con’s of “graduating” from being a BSLA Section and becoming our own independent Chapter of ASLA.

Where: Room 102 Wishcamper Center on the University of Southern Maine Campus

Directions: Directions and campus map at Parking is available behind the Wishcamper Center - off Bedford St or you can park (for free) in the parking garage connected to the Abromson Center.

When: June 9th from 8:30 am to 4 pm

There will be morning and afternoon sessions with light lunch and breakfast provided. We will be joined by Julia M. Lent, ASLA's Managing Director of Member and Chapter Services, for input from the national level. Be on the lookout for a survey coming soon from her to start the discussion! Representatives from the Boston Chapter will also be attending.

Join us for this important discussion. All ASLA members should participate! Here’s a chance to make your dues (and voice) count!  Other practicing Maine LA’s or Emerging Professionals are also welcome! We are exploring all options for making membership easier so we can build our Maine presence to help our profession and practices grow! Please RSVP to Amy Segal at to help facilitate our planning for this event.

Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided.

June 9th AGENDA

8:30 – 9:00            Breakfast & Introductions

9:00 – 10:30           Identify Goals: What are the benefits of chapter formation 

10:30 – 12:00         Survey Review/Findings & SWOT Analysis

12:00 – 12:30          Lunch

12:30 – 1:30            Chapter Management 101

1:30 – 2:30             ASLA Resources – Chapter Operations Workbook       

2:30 – 3:30             Objectives & Chapter Organization

3:30 – 4:00            Wrap-up


MaineASLA Chapter Formation – Part 2: Why do it, anyway?

The root question here is: “Why should I join a professional organization?” In this case, that organization is the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) which had its start in 1899. Go to the ASLA website,  Member Benefits page and see for yourself the many valuable attributes of our profession’s national organization.

We have summarized a few benefits here that motivate us, and hopefully will inspire you as well. Without your support a Maine Chapter cannot succeed.  We are stronger as a group, rather than as isolated practitioners: 

  • Advancing the profession: Through public outreach, information, and advocacy, letting the world know the function and value you offer as a Landscape Architect while increasing your visibility.

  • Advancing the professional: Through continuing education, and interaction with allied professions, keeping you current in your practice, making you a more effective Landscape Architect.

  • Interacting with and supporting fellow professionals: Through networking and social opportunities, fostering collegiality and supporting you as a Landscape Architect in the community of your peers.

The underscoring tenet of any organization of this nature is that the community provides value greater than just the sum of its parts. Come join the Chapter Planning Workshop on June 9 (free, breakfast and lunch included!) as we explore this exciting next “chapter” for landscape architecture in Maine!

Please RSVP to Amy Segal at to help facilitate our planning for this event.