Merging mind and action
Laura Kendrick’s work literally makes people’s lives better. A landscape architect who works as a project coordinator for The Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), just outside Washington, D.C., she provides pro bono planning and design services to initiatives that have helped communities build new playgrounds, reclaim vacant lots and abandoned buildings, revitalize commercial districts, create community master plans, and beautify their neighborhoods.
Kendrick ’04, an English major with a writing concentration, received her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Maryland. “Writing and landscape architecture are both very creative fields. In my current work, I get to solve environmental issues by being creative.”
A nonprofit organization, NDC works with communities to improve livability. “The community may have an idea on how they want to improve their area in a physical way but they don’t have the resources. We’re there to do the design for those programs, which will be available on NDC’s website,” Kendrick said.
One example is NDC’s initiative “Green Up Clean Up,” a one-day, county-wide landscape beautification effort, that brings the community together to plant in public spaces. The program provides free plant materials and organizes volunteers who work with designs created by Kendrick and her colleagues to beautify their schools, municipal centers and neighborhoods.
Kendrick’s favorite project involved designing a sticker to wrap around rain barrels for an elementary school. “A teacher wanted a way to dress up the rain barrels. Painting is hard to do, so we designed a giant sticker to put around them. I took a huge bag of student artwork for Earth Day and used a little piece of every students’ artwork to design the wrap around sticker.”
Kendrick has used her writing talents to create and edit a set of action guides and how-to pamphlets for NDC. She also is in the process of creating a style guide for the organization to achieve a coherent and comprehensive presence for their website.
In her previous employment at Cowen Design Group, Kendrick completed a planting design that recently has been approved for a U.S. Embassy in the Middle East. “The design was 100 acres and beside a river…I got to learn a whole new plant palate since their climate is so different from here,” she said.
“I always say that Denison teaches you how to think and how to learn. That’s the point of a liberal arts education, and you can go on to do lots of things with it,” Kendrick said.