Landscapes of Place

Community Projects

Wetlands Illustrations

Illustrations created for Wisconsin Wetlands Association.

Karst illustration for My Healthy Wetland, a handbook for wetland landowners.

Modern/Historical Conditions and wetland context for Model Wetland Conservation Ordinance: A Policy Development Tool for Wisconsin Counties, Cities, Villages, Towns, and Tribes.


Land Stewardship

A strong land ethic motivates all of our stewardship engagements. As professionals, we perform and supervise ecological restorations using a range of techniques that are appropriate in varied habitats and conditions. As volunteers, we join our communities in cooperative invasive exotic control work, native species replanting, river cleanups, and leading other volunteers in this work. Our practice also creates stewardship opportunities for non-profits through the development and management of grants. This effort is extended into the field where we work to creatively teach others the whys and hows of restoration work and effective monitoring, and reading the native landscape.

Tula Erskine Exhibit

We created an exhibit of the work of the artist and mycologist Gertrude Kundman Erskine (1907-2000) at the Urban Ecology Center, October-December 2017. 'Tula' was a largely unheralded and talented artist, naturalist, and educator, who lived near the Urban Ecology Center.

The exhibition catalog contains new essays by Dr. Chris Young, "Naturalist art inspires community science", and Elfrieda Abbe, "Isn't that a handsome mushroom! (The life and legacy of Gertrude Kundman Erskine), and also small reproductions of all fifty of Tula's mushroom illustrations meant for a never-published field guide.


About Sturgeon Bay

Point of View for About Sturgeon Bay June 5-12, 2016. Landscape installation of found objects, wood, steel, monotype prints, created by Nancy Aten and Dan Collins. "A cache of old boards found at the Habitat ReStore in Sturgeon Bay might be a remnant of a old deck used with gatherings of family and friends; or a remnant of an older cedar forest sheltering trilling birds; or it might be something else. Like so much in Sturgeon Bay, it depends on your point of view. As for point of view... that's your way of seeing something, which is usually affected by what you know or learn about it. So keep sifting and winnowing".


Imprinted Paleolithic for About Sturgeon Bay June 7-13, 2015. "...Each artist has created a piece about Sturgeon Bay, concerning its future, past or present as a link to the vision of how we redefine our city as it transitions to a new paradigm..." (Stephanie Trenchard). Landscape installation of wood, steel, glass and plants, created by Nancy Aten and Dan Collins. "Imprinted Paleolithic reflects both our human constructed and primeval natural environs in Sturgeon Bay - the forested escarpment, the sunny cuesta, and structures and tools used by generations in Sturgeon Bay to imprint the natural world".

Landscapes of place’s Map Bureau: Conservation Planning

Maps in support of neighborhood conservation planning / 2014 / N. Aten

Communal Rainwater

Water community gardens with neighborhood’s excess rainfall, using existing collection infrastructure.  March 2013 / N. Aten (idea brainstormed with G. Mead, B. Yahola, K. Sands, D. Collins, and others; inspired by the Milwaukee Water Commons)

The goal: Keep rainfall runoff in the neighborhood and use it for community food production.  An underlying desire for community gardens, for both economy and ecology of water, is the use of buffered (stored) rainwater rather than potable city water.  Coupled with this is a challenge of scale: matching communal food production for the neighborhood with communal inputs of rainwater and energy from the neighborhood.  A vacant lot in a neighborhood can provide the space to produce the desired scale of food production; but the land does not itself have the ability to collect enough excess rainwater to supply the garden’s needs.  The key idea: A system that collects excess rainwater at neighborhood scale already exists, in underground storm sewer pipes (in separated sewer areas).  Can we tap into this, the underground storm-sewer sub-watershed for the neighborhood, to water the communal neighborhood food gardens?  (for more, contact us).

5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration

Landscapes of Place sponsored the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Madison, WI October 2013. We also volunteered with helping organize the conference. Part of our work was leading the Art and Ecology venture.

Ecological Restoration has long engaged the arts and artists in collaborative work meant to explore the nature/culture relationship and the participatory core of restoration work. Two projects were commissioned by us for the conference: Seed Pod, by Brenda Leigh Baker, and the SER Print Project, led by Yvette Pino. This summer, Seed Pod happily found its long-term home at Lynden in Milwaukee.

Imagining Natural History

Image series, exploring ways of seeing places and possibilities. 

landscapes of place’s Map Bureau: Island of Hope

Milwaukee County Grounds Coalition / 2010-2013 / N. Aten

Island of Hope: the latest in a series of informational maps to help visually communicate concerns and plans related to the Habitat Preservation Area within the County Grounds.

New book, The Milwaukee County Grounds: Island of Hope by Eddee Daniel with foreword by Nancy Aten.

Foreward to The Milwaukee County Grounds: Island of Hope

Video based on the book (6 minutes, youtube)

landscapes of place’s Map Bureau: Washington Park

Map for Urban Ecology Center Washington Park / 2010 / N. Aten

As a volunteer, and at the request of the UEC Washington Park director, developed maps using County data for the UEC's use in planning and communication. I also made a topo map for use with schoolkids and orienteering.

Support the Urban Ecology Center’s university student design competition

Support the Urban Ecology Center's university student competition for design of the new Menomonee Valley facility, by preparing background materials, basemaps, images, engaging in discussions and reviews, and assistance preparing project book.  


Riveredge Nature Center Charrette

Led Riveredge Nature Center environmental education staff in a charrette to consider natural playground opportunities and priorities (Nancy at left). Produced idea sketches and results of spatial and priority sorting exercises.

landscapes of place’s map bureau: Small Magic

The Missing ‘Small Magic’ of Water / 2013 / N. Aten

One loss we have in urban neighborhoods is the ‘small magic’ of water – we no longer see little streams; they run underground in pipes; we no longer see little wetlands and ephemeral wetlands; they are filled. When our only visible water is the big rivers and the Great Lake, we have lessened our opportunities for intimate connections to water, and the sense of stewardship such intimate relationships often engender.

Left, showing present WDNR-mapped surface waters in yellow — notice the absence in Milwaukee — and overlaying the historic vegetation of Milwaukee.  The historic vegetation is extrapolated from the 1835 GLO surveys; reds and blues were large swamps. The Milwaukee County boundary is shown; and the boundary of the inset view to the right.

Right, zoomed in to Milwaukee, showing the 1835 GLO land survey maps, with then-mapped large wetlands (those visible walking the square-mile sections).

Mequon Nature Preserve Charrette

Led Mequon Nature Center staff and volunteers in design charrettes for landscapes around nature center (below).

First charrette: trail connections, educational opportunities, improving wetland connections, problematic parking lot (one group's sketch shown). Second charrette: plant community concepts and human experience (one group's sketches shown).

Landscape Architecture at the University of Georgia

City Neighborhood and Oak Savanna (opens new browser window; type Aten into search). 2003 Master of Landscape Architecture thesis.

How I Started a Sustainability Conference, Sustainable Design+Education (2.4M pdf, 3-page article). Invited Editorial, Landscape Architecture magazine, April 207