I was particularly excited to talk with Jessica Bundy. Before I joined the MLA program at UTK, I thought that I wanted to work with the National Park Service after completing my degree. However, as my first year of graduate school has elapsed, I am starting to realize that my interests have diverged. However, I had yet to talk with anyone who works with the NPS. Although Bundy’s conversation did not redirect me back to my initial interest, I was surprised to hear the impact that landscape architects have in the NPS.
Although problems are never seen as a good thing in the design field, I appreciated Bundy’s candidness of the obstacles she has to overcome on a daily basis as a landscape architect with the NPS. The one she stated as the most prominent is the obstacle of a dual mandate. While her job is to promote and regulate federal areas, a lot of her difficulties arise from trying to preserve the wilderness while promoting it. While she is regulating the form and shape of trails along the Appalachian Mountains, it seems that a majority of work deals with the diplomatic implications of wilderness regulation and expansion. Her parting words of wisdom did not specify the ways to overcome the technical, but reinforced the need to have strong soft skills. As she stated, communication is essential in order to foster good design work.
Despite not doing traditional landscape architecture work, I appreciate the more diplomatic side that landscape architecture can take.