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Helphand to Speak at CSULB on Wartime ‘Defiant Gardens’

Published: February 15, 2011

The idea of self-empowerment and resistance by way of garden cultivation intrigues landscape historian and architect Kenneth I. Helphand, who explores the universal capacity of humans to endure extreme situations and their powerful responses via the constructed landscape in his book, Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime.

During the Winter Lecture presented by the Friends of the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at Cal State Long Beach, Helphand will discuss his historical study on gardens produced under the conditions of war, cultural oppression and economic hardship. The program takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25, in CSULB’s Daniel Recital Hall.

He is the Knight Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon and chair of the Senior Fellows of Garden and Landscape Studies at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library. He will present examples from World War I, Nazi Europe, and the Japanese-American internment camps in the United States, including Merritt Park, a Japanese garden built in 1943 by internees at the Manzanar War Relocation Center and recently excavated by the National Parks Service.

The lecture is the inaugural program of Cal State Long Beach’s “The B-Word Project: Banned, Blacklisted and Boycotted,” a campus-wide initiative on censorship and the response to it, coordinated by CSULB’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Helphand’s presentation is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; and the Friends of the Japanese Garden.

Admission is $5 for the public and free for Friends of the Japanese Garden, their guests, and CSULB students. Space is limited and RSVPs are required by calling 562/985-2169. For more information, visit the Japanese Garden website.

–Anne Ambrose