Back and Forth

By Jim McCloskey

My job is great: Every other week, I get to sit back and marvel at the array of content we flow into our WaterShapes EXTRA newsletters and onto the WaterShapes.com web site.

In each newsletter, we carry two or three items over from the printed magazine, introducing their glories to a new generation of watershapers who weren’t all around to see them the first time through (and offering reminders to veteran eyes). And every time, there are also four or five or six brand-new, never-before-seen pieces, lots of them introducing videos we’ve defined as having value both to professionals and to their current and prospective clients.

I love this mixing of new and old, and I hand-pick every item with a simple goal in mind: to draw every reader deeper and deeper into the framework, mentality and attitude that’s been a part of what we dubbed the WaterShapes Revolution when we started back in 1999. This time, for example, we called up three pieces from the archives:

[ ] “A Master at Work,” in which renowned landscape architect Raymond Jungles pays tribute to his friend and mentor, the incomparable environmental artist Roberto Burle Marx. This is one of the most remarkable pieces we ever published in its expression of the fact that generosity can flow in multiple directions: from master to pupil, obviously, but also in the willingness of the pupil to give credit where it is due and to share his insights with others. (To be sure, others who’ve written for the magazine have been similarly gracious though the years, but in Mr. Jungles’ case the results of his intellectual exchange with his mentor are consistently spectacular and well worth a look.)

[ ] “Digging the Quarry,” where Ken Alperstein and the golf-course-conjuring wizards at Pinnacle Design show just how far sensitivity to a place and its natural features can go in making huge, open spaces seem intimate, even cozy. Ken wrote a number of features for us through the years, and this has always been one of my personal favorites.

[ ] “Hard Choices,” in which Stephanie Rose’s column of ten years ago is repeated in digest form to raise thought-provoking questions about the way rocks and boulders are used in landscapes. Her own approach seems to me to be spot on – and useful guidance for anyone seeking to bring dimension and visual weight to an exterior design.

As for new material, we love mixing that up, too, with some conventional features as well as videos, travelogues and other diversions. This time, for example, you’ll see:

[ ] “Cascading Exertion,” the twelfth part of Eric Triplett’s fabulous video series on the construction of a basic backyard pond and waterfall. The videos themselves are wonderful, and while it’s fair to say they’re intended more for consumer consumption than professional use, I think that Eric’s text introductions, which offer professionally oriented insights into the process (and which appear exclusively through WaterShapes.com) help to make these videos helpful teaching tools within any pond-installation operation.

[ ] “Caribbean Outpost – North,” in which Bruce Zaretsky relates the story of a project in which it made perfect sense to break some time-honored rules and follow his clients’ lead, come what may. In essence, the challenge of satisfying New Yorkers who wanted to import a slice of tropical paradise unlocked Bruce’s creativity and pushed him to find a design solution that really works.

[ ] “Getting in Step,” where I break my own close-to-home rule and recommend visiting India to see something that was entirely new to me. I’ve spent nearly 30 years scouring the globe to learn all I can about watershapes and watershaping, and I have to say that this is really cool – in more ways than one.

It’s a great package, and there’s fun there, too, in the quirky form of “Ripples” and in the newsy “Test Your Knowledge.” Both are offered with a simple thought: These are odd stories of the sort people encounter in the news almost every day, and life is better if everyone’s on the same page when it comes to the lighter (and occasionally poignant) side of life in and around water.

It’s a pleasure to share all of this with you, edition after edition. Enjoy!

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