» Ming Lo

Minnesota is the land of the 10.000 lakes, and many more wetlands. Often, the natural environment is not capitalized upon in the planning system and in design traditions. My research here focuses on conservation design, aiming at synergies between conservation and development. Special topics include the history of the conservation and environmental planning movement in Minnesota, and, last but not least, the elusive sport and philosophy of ice- fishing, and its manifestation as villages on the ice.

Several research initiatives can be mentioned: a project on the emergence of ice fishing villages on Lake Mille Lacs, the interaction between formal and informal rules in that evolution, and the changing impact of local knowledge and technologies. The sport changed, the role of the resorts/ice villages changed with evolving rules, evolving tastes, evolving technologies.

We are also working on conservation design in Minnesota, using Minnesota as a case study in the development of a methodology for conservation design in wet environments that is applicable anywhere. Legal, political, cultural enabling and impeding factors are investigated, as well as design concepts and procedures that might make a difference.

In addition, there is our project on conservation and environmental planning pioneer Ernest Oberholtzer. This still largely unknown figure developed influential conservation ideas early in the 20th century, and was one of the main characters in the protection of the Boundary Waters, and in the development of the wilderness movement. We study his planning and design of the small island in Rainy Lake, Minnesota, where he lived for half a century, and we are interested in the interweaving of writing, exploration and conservation and planning in his life and work.

Cooperation with Ming Lo, St Cloud State University; Jeff Holm; Jo van Biesebroeck, Leuven University; Steve Roos, University of Minnesota; Paul Radomski, Mn DNR.

Most of this research is in full progress. I wrote a book, with Paul Radomski, on sustainable lakeside living, planning and design inspired by environmental writers, and we are looking for a publisher.

A paper on place branding in planning in Journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy does have a case study on northern Minnesota, and also a paper on silence and planning in Planning Theory features that area.

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