Architecture and Design Network (ADN) kicks off the new year to continue its 2017/18 June Freeman lecture series by welcoming Martin Smith, PLA, ASLA, Partner and Landscape Architect with Ecological Design Group, Inc. In an effort to save the historic White River bridge at Clarendon a much larger vision presented itself. The potential to revitalize the Arkansas Delta by embracing a culture and taking advantage of its natural resources emerged. The utilization of 5 Rivers to create a network of 5 Ports, 5 Markets and 5 Routes the Arkansas Delta has an opportunity to position itself as an adventure tourism and culinary destination for the 21st Century. The restoration of 5 Historic Ports, Newport, Augusta, Des Arc, DeValls Bluff and Clarendon along the White River provide an opportunity for exploration and mobility with a glimpse of a culture frozen in time. The ports provide headquarters for exploration of some of the most diverse ecologies and cultures still in existence. From the Rivers to the Ridge, Crowley’s Ridge provides a contrasting ecosystem while becoming the thread intertwining the 5 Markets, Harrisburg, Wynne, Forrest City, Marianna and Helena. The markets provide an opportunity for the rebirth of a sustainable regional food system attracting small specialty farms and becoming a destination for the exploration of sustainable agriculture. Cycling routes, utilizing existing infrastructure of county and farm roads provide the links to the once thriving downtowns brought back to life with public squares, regional music, café’s utilizing local cuisine, outfitters for adventure tourism and local guides providing a unique cultural immersion experience.
Smith is a native of Arkansas and currently resides in the small community of Birdeye, raising his family in a home built by his Great-Great Grandfather in 1901. His passion and commitment to his local community runs deep in the Arkansas Delta much like his family history. Martin has led design teams throughout the State with a focus on innovative award winning low impact development for urban and rural environments. Martin uses stormwater to initiate his designs while placing an emphasis on the integration of public spaces with the founding principles of ecology. Martin and his wife Kara are active throughout the Delta promoting the importance of Healthy Living lifestyles while also promoting locally grown regional sustainability.