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Lakeshore Living

Lakeshore Living: Designing Lake Places and Communities in the Footprints of Environmental Writers

Paul J. Radomski
Kristof Van Assche
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Lakeshore Living
    Book Description:

    In this remarkable and remarkably accessible synthesis of ecology, landscape design, and social sciences, the authors present an approach to lakeshore living that addresses the need to create rich, sustainable places and communities on the water, where both the loon and the family find a place, and where the cabin can be handed down with integrity to the grandchildren. Fragile shorelands require care, and that caring comes from knowledge, experience, and an environmental ethic. Radomski and Van Assche argue that an environmentally sensitive lakeshore place and community design is the way forward. While many factors affect the quality of lakes and lakeshore living, property owners and local communities do not have to wait until policies are perfect: the design approach advocated here can be applied in any place people living lakeside can get together and collaborate. The approach presented here is proactive and context sensitive: new designs have to fit the existing ecological, cultural, and policy landscapes. Development is always re-development in this sense. The authors introduce the reader step-by-step to this approach and carefully discuss leverage points that can be helpful in implementation and system change.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-408-8
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Aquatic Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    Once in a great while a book is written that captures the essence of its subject in a captivating and informative manner, and this is one of those rare volumes.

    Readers will not only learn much from the well-researched text, but will enjoy the prose, which is fluid and retains one’s interest, page after page. To discuss complex topics, and complex contributors to the field over the past seventy-five years, and render them readily understandable is a gift, not generally seen in books in the scientific or planning literature.

    One of the aspects that makesLakeshore Livingsuch a pleasure...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. 1-8)

    We are not dealing with a luxury problem affecting only the leisure class and lake lovers. We are dealing with a web of issues that we cannot afford to ignore. Failing to design our lakeshore places and to leverage the system changes that we will later identify will jeopardize existing lakeshore qualities and values, and we may miss the opportunities to create new qualities for lakes. Our lakeshore living needs reinvention. We believe in a better way of composing our lakeshore places. We believe in some basic, timeless principles that promote healthier shoreland places, friendlier neighborhoods, and sustainable communities.



    • [PART ONE. Introduction]
      (pp. 9-10)

      While a river appears to change with its flow, we generally perceive that a lake only changes with the seasons. We often interact with the lake in the summer, so we may have some understanding and appreciation for summer lake ecology. However, winter lake phenomena are often hidden from us, with the comings and goings of lake plants and animals unknown and underappreciated. Understanding our lake increases our sense of place and our affection for lakeshore living.

      With colder weather the lake and shoreline environments change. Water, which has an unusual molecular structure, becomes lighter as it cools below 4...

    • CHAPTER 1 Lake Parts
      (pp. 11-28)

      It has been estimated that there are about three million lakes greater than 25 acres (0.1 square kilometers) on the planet. These lakes are not distributed evenly over the world’s landmasses. Earth’s north temperate zone, including North America, is lake rich; Minnesota is called the land of ten thousand lakes, and Finland is called the land of thousands of lakes. Canada has over thirty-one thousand large lakes, and about 9 percent of the country is covered by freshwater. In North America, the highest densities of lakes are in the northeast and areas associated with glaciation. The continent’s lakes are diverse...

    • CHAPTER 2 Lake Ecology
      (pp. 29-36)

      Ecology is the study of the relationship of organisms to one other and to their physical environment. Natural selection, predator–prey interactions, and population dynamics are all included within the framework of ecology. Like other disciplines of biology, ecology is based on the fundamental science of physics. Within ecosystems, the laws of science, such as the thermodynamic laws are often hidden to the casual observer by the complexity of species interactions and the environment. The first thermodynamic law states that energy in an isolated system is conserved, and the second law states that energy disperses in an isolated system. As...


    • [PART TWO. Introduction]
      (pp. 37-38)

      Lakes are ecosystems defined by connectivity. Understanding ecosystems is necessary if we are interested in a rich lakeshore life. Some scientific insight helps. Despite considerable improvements in the field of science and mounting evidence to support scientific statements, too often we are unwilling to accept the derived facts. People invented the scientific method to think thoroughly about problems and to reliably understand the world around them. The strength of one’s belief does not decide the facts. Science is a process to discover and revise facts about our world, even when our sensory capacity precludes discovery. We can’t see, hear, or...

    • CHAPTER 3 Aldo Leopold and Living in Harmony with the Land
      (pp. 39-50)

      Aldo Leopold was a naturalist, natural resource manager, pioneering ecologist, and land ethicist. His writings includeReport on a Game Survey of the North Central States(1931),Game Management(1933),A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There(1949), andRound River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold(edited by his son, Luna Leopold, after Aldo Leopold’s death). He published more than five hundred articles, and his work includes many essays and reports of some significance. Aldo Leopold was a restless and curious man who deliberately observed and documented nature, good and bad natural resource management, and ecological concepts....

    • CHAPTER 4 Sigurd Olson and Protecting Wilderness
      (pp. 51-60)

      Sigurd Olson was a man of the lakes. All his life, he was inspired, even obsessed, with lake wilderness, and he often reflected on this obsession. Familiar characters in his narrative range from the French-Canadian voyageurs (he took pride in the honorific title “bourgeois” [leader] given to him by his friends) to the animals, trees, rocks, lakes, rivers, and portages. He appreciated the whole network of wet places that made the wilderness accessible for voyageurs and modern visitors alike. Sigurd Olson was very attached to the canoe country, presenting it as the last wilderness before the far West or high...

    • CHAPTER 5 William Whyte and Human Habitat
      (pp. 61-72)

      William Hollingsworth “Holly” Whyte Jr. was a journalist and sociologist. His work spanned numerous disciplines, including land use, rural and urban development, sociology, regulations, and public policy. He is perhaps best known for his bestselling bookThe Organization Man,in which he documented the diminishing individualism in American society. He was also an astute observer of people, and his description of people’s behavior in urban settings revolutionized metropolitan design. Whyte was a humble and optimistic man, not prone to overstatement, and he had a preference for action. Holly Whyte had a unique gift in communicating his detailed observations and his...


    • CHAPTER 6 Asset Preservation
      (pp. 75-88)

      This book is about lakeshore living, not just about lakes or about their protection. People want to use lakes. Desire creates value, and value often creates problems. To truly acknowledge the assets the land has to offer, as Aldo Leopold, inGame Management,stated, “to see why it is, how it became, and the direction and velocity of the changes,” is as important as seeing what the land offers today. To effectively place humans and the rest of nature together on the lakeshore, we must understand the special attraction of lakeshore living. Sigurd Olson contemplated inListening Point:“Water reflects...

    • CHAPTER 7 Asset Creation
      (pp. 89-98)

      By now it is clear that asset preservation and asset creation are closely interlinked. An asset only remains an asset in a suitable context, and an area improved by a design can turn existing elements and structures into real assets. A feature can go unnoticed for a long time, but once made visible and given prominence in a plan, it can become a focal element in a landscape. An asset can also be created by stories; stories help make qualities visible to other people. People like Leopold, Olson, and Whyte made a big difference in this regard; they not only...

    • CHAPTER 8 Connecting People and Things
      (pp. 99-108)

      Neighborhoods that foster community and respect the environment are more than collections of people. Designing a community to connect people is always tricky. Architects and planners have often overestimated the power of design to work on social structure, social cohesion, and equality. Many of the most problematic urban neighborhoods were designed with the best intentions but without serious thought to the people who would live there and their needs. Research and experience have taught us that certain types of design, such as lakeshore piano-key developments with no public access and no shared amenities, will probably not lead to a flourishing...


    • CHAPTER 9 Culture and Governance
      (pp. 111-126)

      The loon has no possessions. It occupies the lake without regard for who owns the shore or how opulent the neighborhood. The loon is looking to make a good life, and it seeks a connection with place and a territory to raise a family. This bird has evolved to be a great swimmer and fisher of northern lakes and southern coastal waters. The loon knows its neighbors. Nonbreeding loons congregate on the lake in the summer, and during migration their sense of community expands into large flocks floating on our largest lakes. On their wintering waters they gather together at...

    • CHAPTER 10 System Changing
      (pp. 127-142)

      Leopold, Olson, and Whyte wrote about the causes of many of our lakeshore problems and strove to provide solutions. Leopold concluded that the protection of our native landscapes required an expansion of our ethics and that government could and should only play a limited role. Olson worked to engage governments to protect wilderness and wrote about the landscape in a way that inspired people to reconnect with natural parts of our world. Whyte worked with city, county, state, and federal governments to preserve and create public spaces for people and the rest of nature. Overall, each came to understand the...

    • CHAPTER 11 Our Lake, Our Responsibility
      (pp. 143-146)

      Ecologically, every place is unique, and human history and culture add layers to that uniqueness. Water is vital ecologically and culturally. Today, ecosystems and ecological values are under increasing threat, and human nature is such that new threats continue to emerge. Living close to the water’s edge disturbs one of the ecosystem’s most vulnerable spots, but it is also central to our self-understanding. Reinventing our lakeshore living requires rethinking place identity and shifting cultural identity in the areas we inhabit. Leopold, Olson, and Whyte were keenly aware of this, and their writings, each in a different way, shed light on...

  11. Notes and Recommended Reading
    (pp. 147-184)
  12. References
    (pp. 185-208)
  13. Index
    (pp. 209-212)