Faces of The Fargo Project: Landscape Designer Laura Bowles

Laura Bowles is a landscape designer at Land Elements in Fargo

Laura Bowles is a landscape designer at Land Elements in Fargo

Laura Bowles is a landscape designer at Land Elements. Her introduction to The Fargo Project was during the first WeDesign event in 2012, and she’s been working at it since. Her task at Land Elements is to translate ideas of artists and the community into construction drawings that serve as the project blueprints.

Currently Laura is busy taking the natural play ideas gathered by Westside Elementary fifth graders and organizing them into drawings for construction during summer 2017.

Laura and other organizers encouraged the fifth graders to think like animals, and the students used clay, twigs and grasses to express their ideas.

“Lucky for us, kids have a knack for creativity so we have plenty of ideas,” she says.

The Natural Play design emphasizes flexible space so children have the freedom to creatively imagine stories, games and experiences.

“It’s like going to get FroYo – you start with just plain old yogurt (the natural play area) but then you can put whatever toppings you want to get it exactly how you love it: invent your own games, discover bugs, lose a shoe in the mud,” Laura says. “That’s flexibility.”

Boulders were a common theme featured in student’s models as something they wanted to climb and explore, or use as a place to perch. Part of Laura’s job is looking for the perfect boulders to place on site.

Keep an eye on World Garden Commons in 2017 and watch the construction progress.

A boulder ideal for the World Garden Commons site can used to climb and explore, or as a place to perch

A boulder ideal for the World Garden Commons site can used to climb and explore, or as a place to perch


MLK Day: Together We Imagine Beauty and Create Solutions

This week we observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day and celebrated the ways his words and actions supported civil rights in our country.

The Fargo Project has definitely benefited from his dream that people of all colors, ages, backgrounds and cultures would come together to make their communities better.

From its start, The Fargo Project imagined a new way to shape storm water basins across the city. As it did this, it also strived to find a more inclusive way for city residents to influence the projects that impact them.

Instead of creating a plan and asking for input, our organizers built partnerships and asked community members to identify solutions. We intentionally have sought out ideas that are friendly to the environment and the cultures represented in Fargo.

Pictured: Friends and community advocates Laetitia Hellerud & Darci Asche

Friends and community advocates Laetitia Hellerud & Darci Asche

One of our key goals has been to engage underrepresented populations in the process. For the World Commons Garden, we invited the apartment residents surrounding Rebanus Park to assist with the planning. Small group conversations with these residents influenced the master design; their children helped design the natural play area.

The project family tree has included more than 100 interested community groups and people. They have worked together to imagine beauty and to create solutions. Deep listening and input will continue to influence the ways the space is used and maintained in coming years.

As King said: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

Keeping that in mind, The Fargo Project has (among other things):

  • Demonstrated a new way to plan community projects by asking residents, first, what they want and need
  • Broken down community interest group silos
  • Created space that welcomes events and programs focused on cultural interests

We’re proud of what we’ve done and look to another quote from King as we move forward:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”