Gardens are simultaneously a material and a spiritual undertaking. That’s hard for scientists, so fully brainwashed by Cartesian dualism, to grasp. “Well, how would you know it’s love and not just good soil?” she asks. “Where’s the evidence? What are the key elements for detecting loving behavior?”
That’s easy. No one would doubt that I love my children, and even a quantitative social psychologist would find no fault with my list of loving behaviors:
• nurturing health and well-being
• protection from harm
• encouraging individual growth and development
• desire to be together
• generous sharing of resources
• working together for a common goal
• celebration of shared values
• sacrifice by one for the other
• creation of beauty
If we observed these behaviors between humans, we would say, “She loves that person.” You might also observe these actions between a person and a bit of carefully tended ground and say, “She loves that garden.” Why then, seeing this list, would you not make the leap to say that the garden loves her back?
The exchange between plants and people has shaped the evolutionary history of both.
Excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer
“People often ask me what one thing I would recommend to restore relationship between land and people. My answer is almost always, “Plant a garden.” It’s good for the health of the earth and it’s good for the health of people. A garden is a nursery for nurturing connection, the soil for cultivation of practical reverence. And its power goes far beyond the garden gate—once you develop a relationship with a little patch of earth, it becomes a seed itself."
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Kimmerer
"Plants tell their stories not by what they say, but by what they do. What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn't you dance it? Wouldn't you act it out? Wouldn't your every movement tell the story?"
Playgrounds over Paths
Today's standard design wisdom focuses on the design of linear paths. Sometimes they may branch, but they're ultimately a sequential set of steps towards a desired outcome.
Within complex systems, these paths often lack the flexibility to adapt to emergent conditions - users acting outside the "designed boundaries".
Instead of designing explicit paths, APD is oriented towards the design of playgrounds - limited spaces where the boundaries are defined by the mechanics of the system. Within these playgrounds, desire paths will naturally form based on different factors: cost, convenience, bounded rationality, etc.
Instead of designing the "center" and scripting how activities within it must unfold, it designs the periphery instead, leaving the center alone. It hopes to create a free space, that can accommodate the emergent behaviors of its users.