Horticulture experts and enthusiasts from across Central New York are coming to Ithaca this weekend for the fifth annual Ithaca Native Landscape Symposium, on Friday and Saturday at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca. Dan Segal, director of the symposium, said the gathering has grown over the last four years, and is on its third location after outgrowing others.
The symposium offers lectures on landscape architecture and design, home gardening and habitat health. Also on the schedule are talks about how natural gas drilling and climate change could impact native plants.
Online Editor Kacey Deamer spoke with Segal about the symposium’s history and its move to Cinemapolis this year.
Kacey Deamer: Can you describe for our readers what the Ithaca Native Landscape Symposium is, and why it’s held in Ithaca?
Dan Segal: It’s a two-day conference that addresses all the aspects of native plants in horticulture that are relevant in Central New York. It’s held in Ithaca mainly because I work here and I wanted the event to be held here, plus Ithaca is very central in the state. There are a few conferences similar to this in the Northeast, but there really are only about two or three that are really similar to this one. So it’s probably the biggest one between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and maybe just as big as — or almost as big as — the others.
KD: Cinemapolis is an interesting location for this kind of an event. How did that partnership develop?
DS: We started the event at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and we outgrew that space. Then we moved to La Tourelle, which is a great place, but we also outgrew that. So Cinemapolis is nice for being a good size, and the only facility of its size that’s located right on The Commons. And we felt that the slightly alternative culture that people associate with Cinemapolis as a theater was a good fit for the sort of alternative perspective that we’re trying to produce on horticulture. Plus a lot of people don’t realize that you can hold events at Cinemapolis during the day when they’re not showing films.
KD: Do you have a student involvement from either Ithaca College or Cornell University?
DS: There’s sort of a history with that. We used to rely a little more on student volunteers, but we haven’t had much response — at least not what we thought we’d get — from the student or academic communities. One year, maybe four years ago, we had a Cornell landscape architecture professor register a dozen of his students, and since then I’d say we probably haven’t even had a dozen students attend total. It’s not for lack of content or relevance, since we’re getting close to 100 professional landscape architects that attend and it’s relevant to them. We do offer a discounted registration price for students as well.
For more information about the Ithaca Native Landscape Symposium, visit http://www.ithacanativelandscape.com/.