Updates from the Understory | January 2018


Dear Design Wild Friends & Loved Ones,
This past year has been a hell of a trip, stressful for so many of us. It has all brought me a LOT closer to the importance of plants.  I've been learning from these lush comrades who live among us. They just have so many lessons to teach us! Whether it's creating a public green space or a peaceful residential garden, adding a little life to a museum show or someone’s home, the magic of plants radiates through it all.  
This bit of WILD in our world brings peace, breath and a little wonder to our lives and our city. And with it, so many lessons. The first lesson comes from the intimately new spring oak leaf. Unfurling her tiny self, she shows us how to start fresh, to continually begin again, with courage. Next, the abundance of summer flowers in deep red, glowing purple and hot pink show us how to go no-holds-barred and give life all we've got. Later in the season, the beautifully senescing autumn leaves can teach us the ever difficult lesson of letting go, of surrender. And just as the first snows begin to fall, the fall-planted bulbs that we dig into the cold soil as darkness descends stand as an animated act of faith that the beginning will come again.
We are now in the darkness of the year, but there is no fear in this darkness. We gather the lessons from our flora friends to rest, to reflect and to strategize (you know the trees are strategizing!), and we prepare for the spring to come…
Here in the darkness is where the new begins.






DESIGN WILD was introduced to this rooftop in 2012 and we have been caring for it ever since. We have slowly made additions, first to the plant choices and then by adding new containers and of course, a little of our signature WILD. We love the combination of the purple smoke bush paired with the variegated red-twig dogwood, the evergreen texture of a pine tree with the nearly ever flowering Catnip in the foreground.  The varying heights of these trees and shrubs create a border with a playfully porous edge that creates a feeling of privacy while maintaining a connection to the city.  Read more...



For the past several years, Design Wild has been working with a development team on a new twelve-story apartment building being constructed in Midtown Manhattan. The building will contain 100% affordable units in a wide range of incomes. Not only affordable, it's also going to be gorgeous! We're finishing up designs for two different roof decks and a community park complete with play areas for children, meadow and forest landscapes, eating nooks, and spaces to catch the long views of the Hudson River. Stay tuned as the design phase culminates and the installs begin this spring! Read more...

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Design Wild is excited to introduce our newest team member Kate Selden.  Kate brings a ton of care and strategy to the team with her own mix of hard work and magic powers. Learn more about Kate....

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In these current times, there is an even greater need to stay AWAKE, INSPIRED and JOYFUL. We are paying special attention to people, places, and work that lift our spirits and we wanted to share some of them with you. Here are the first of many:


Truelove Seed says: "Keeping SEEDS is an act of TRUELOVE for our ANCESTORS and our collective FUTURE. It is a practice of FREEDOM."  We can't agree more and we are so excited about the work this company is embarking on. They are collaborating with more than 20 small-scale rural and urban farmers committed to community food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and sustainable agriculture. How dope is that! Visit their website, buy their beautiful seeds and keep growing the future!

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The WILD BOX was a winter project to brings a corner of woodland magic into your home. A simple vessel filled with natural offerings from the woods, it encourages one to pause each day and take a deep breath. Our WILD Box brings the lessons of the season into our home. Winter continues to teach us to slow down, cultivate wonder and connections, explore our inner realm, reflect more and build strength for the future. Learn more about the magic of the WILD Box on an earlier post on our WILD Log.


The Schomburg Center, located close to home here in Harlem, New York, is a research unit of The New York Public Library.  From lectures and movie screenings to 1st Friday dance parties, this cultural institution is busting at the seams with inspiring opportunities. And its always free to boot! Just this year we listened to DeRay Mckesson share some of his stories and challenges as an organizer, running for Baltimore Mayor and navigating today's civil rights movement as a millennial and a gay man. We took in the movie Palante, Siempre Palante! telling the story of the Young Lords of East Harlem with some of the original Young Lords on stage speak on their work after 40 years and its relationship to our current situation (wisdom from the elders!). Find out what's happening this month.

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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants is filled with stories weaving together indigenous ways of knowing with scientific knowledge of the natural world.  It beautifully illustrates what we can learn from the first nation’s worldview, seeing the natural world and the individual plants therein as our brethren and an integral part of our community. The Design Wild team continues to be inspired by the teachings in this book on our relationships, community, stewardship and the way forward into the future. Feed your spirit this winter and read Braiding Sweetgrass and then reach out and talk to us about it!