All posts by Sutter Wehmeier

“A picture of pieces is not a technical definition of ‘collage’ or ‘Cubism’ to be sure, but suggests of a whole range of artistic engagement that attempts, by some kind of reordering, to tell a different story of the world than The One That Is.” – Phil Henry

I have many binders full of paper scraps of all kinds – magazine clippings, album liner notes, color samples, campaign stickers, postcards, you name it. For the most part the binders sit on the shelf and I add to them on a regular basis. But occasionally I take them them down and spread the papers all over the floor to begin a collage. Inspiration comes by way of sifting, sorting, absorbing, and reordering until the kernel of a theme takes shape. It is a free and unscripted process, but somewhere along the way a narrative forms. Detritus becomes desideratum.

Collage is an optimistic process of creation that sidesteps linear thought. It helps us relate incongruent things to one another. Through collage, suddenly fashion meets horticulture, cuisine meets car commercials, dissimilar cultures see eye to eye over a similar color palette. Elements of natural and designed landscapes disproportionately catch my eye, but I often try to populate a scene with snippets from advertising or pop culture perhaps as a way of asking “what if?”.

What if? Those two words may be the most potent guardian of the youthful creativity that lives in all of us. As landscape architects and designers, we hope to inspire this way of thinking, and collage is the perfect medium to do so. In the age of Pinterest and other digital media, this process can often get lost when we perform search queries for what we think we want. In contrast, we at BASE think it is essential to work with our hands and occasionally let our narrative reveal itself toward the World That Could Be. I hope you enjoy these collage exercises; I certainly enjoyed making them.


BASE is thrilled to announce that The Redd on Salmon Street has won first prize at the 2015 SXSW Eco Conference!  As the landscape architects on the project, we are proud to be among the innovators driving economic, environmental, and social change. Congratulations to Ecotrust and the the stellar teams at Opsis Architecture, and all the other collaborators on this project. Please follow the links to read more about this unique venture and see the inspiring work of all the finalists.

And for those in the Portland region, please join us on October 23rd from 4-9pm at The Redd campus on SE9th and Salmon for the Mill & Grill party. In addition to live music and wild sockeye salmon barbecue by Iliamna Fish Co., there will be beer from Rogue Brewery, pumpkin carving, and soda by Hot Lips Pizza. But best of all, there will be an on-site demonstration of cedar log and lumber milling by Coquille Indian Tribe members, who are bringing the logs from their Sek-wet-se forest to serve as beams and siding in rebuilding the Redd Foundry building.



In our ongoing efforts to learn and educate on the topic of pollinator health, our own Patricia and Sutter made a special trip to Xera Plants ( in Portland to speak with co-owner Greg Shepherd about their pledge to use integrated pest management instead of harmful chemicals in the production of their crops. Xera is a wholesale grower and micro-retail outlet specializing in drought-resistant plants for the Pacific Northwest. By focusing on flexibility in their growing methods, Greg and the Xera team do not rely on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, and they have made a larger commitment to the health of pollinators & beneficial insects by going entirely free of systemic pesticides as a whole.


The nursery is surprisingly quiet about their no neo-nic pledge. We did not find any signage at the retail outlet, though other retailers in Portland (such as Garden Fever) sing their praises.

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Greg pointed out that Xera’s hands-on methods of IPM are more labor-intensive than most large growers might be able to afford, but that Xera has seen the economic benefits of not falling into an endless cycle of chemical dependency. “The less you spray, the less you have to spray. Our view as a grower is to limit the plants that require a lot of chemical treatments of any type, specifically neonicotinoids.”



Speaking to the types of plants that Xera grows (and grows very well…), Greg remarked that it takes vigilance to identify species that can be hosts of undesirable pests. “There are other ways to treat besides spraying. For instance, black aphids kept getting our sedums this spring, so we decided to take a break on sedums for a while. After a couple months, the weather cycle changed, the population diminished. Gone. Crop clean. So you have to wait sometimes or cut things back and let them regrow.”



But the last word has to be this: “We bring our dogs to work…A lot of attention has been on neonics, but you have to look at fungicide use, growth regulators, etc., so neonics are the start of it … but it’s not worth having a toxic environment.” Many thanks to Greg Shepherd and the entire Xera Plants team for being at the forefront of this movement. Keep up the good work!



Here is a link to the entire audio of our interview: