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By Julie Moir Messervy. All photos by Debra Berger, APLD Oregon.

Out of the myriad fun things I get to do (including working with my talented staff and wonderful clients, dreaming up all manner of big ideas, and writing books, articles, and blog posts like this one), some of my best professional moments happen when I teach, whether in one-hour lectures or all-day workshops. On November 10th, 90 landscape designers and professionals from related fields came together in Portland, OR, for a 7-hour design workshop called “Creating Home Outside.” As these photographs will attest, we had a ball.

L: Julie with the “two Barbs,” event organizers Barbara Simon and Barbara Hilty. R: Baptista “Izzy” Izhildinha, 2012 President of APLD Oregon.

Many kudos go to the host of the event, the Oregon Chapter of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers).  Event co-chairs Barbara Hilty and Barbara Simon, along with their hardworking and organized committee members, created a superb event that included a public lecture (a new one I’m calling: Get Out! Designing Landscapes That Get Everyone Outside Again) and a book signing the night before, then the workshop itself, which went off without a hitch, and then a party afterward for the organizers and sponsors that was a lot of fun.

L and C: The night before the workshop, Julie gave her “Get Out!” lecture to a full audience of design professionals and others; the lecture was open to the public. R: An APLD member created a gorgeous arrangement of larger-than-life hydrangeas for the room.

Both lecture and workshop were held in a fantastic venue: the Ecotrust Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center in downtown Portland, praised highly by many of the attendees. Wonderful sponsors gave time, money, and in-kind help to the event, including Cascadian Nurseries, PGM Landscape Services, Landscape East & West, OBP Signs & Graphics, Hotel Modera, and Willamette Graystone. Every detail was carefully considered and attended to, including our hotel room at the Hotel Modera—what an elegant place, with a beautiful suite and the best happy-hour bar I’ve ever seen, complete with firetables!

A book signing after the lecture provided more time for friendly conversation (and contemplating the ceiling, apparently!).

I put a lot of time and care into the choreography of the workshop, and it went smoothly and just as I had hoped. I organized it as a group of short lectures and exercises that added up to a useful design exercise by the end of the day. I was also happy to have time throughout the day for questions, including a half-hour talk at the end about how to create the conditions for a Joyful Process in our work.

Small groups worked together on a tabletop design activity.

Another big reason why the day went so well was because my husband, Steve Jonas, was there to help lead the group with me. If you don’t know Steve, he’s not only a master facilitator and organizational development consultant, but also a good and trustworthy human being who listens really well and has a knack for helping everyone have a good time while they’re learning important ideas.

Participants enjoyed Julie and Steve’s onstage rapport and said the back-and-forth lecture/activity format kept the day lively, fast-paced, and fun.

Steve started the day off with a getting-to-know-you activity.He also led short segments interspersed throughout the day on learning how to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to work more effectively with clients, colleagues, and staff.

During the Myers-Briggs exercises, the extroverts put down on paper everything they wish they could say to all those introverts out there! Meanwhile, the introverts did the same.

I was very humbled to work with such a smart and able group of fellow professionals and to get to know many new friends in the Pacific Northwest area. Steve and I are eager to do more of these workshops, both for professional groups and for homeowners who want to learn more about designing their own landscapes.

Here are some of our participants’ comments:

  • Really enjoyed it! Enjoyed the interaction between the two of you and the humor it brought to the workshop.
  • Awesome! I got my paradigm shift! Enjoyed perspectives and insights about archetypes. Enjoyed challenge to think outside the box and encourage creativity.
  • Very positive! I would recommend this workshop to any landscape professional. I’ve been a designer for over 30 years and I learned new things. Hurrah!
  • Terrific, informative, well-chosen lecture. New designer, so lots to absorb!
  • Thank you, Julie & Steve. One of the most inspiring and informative workshops I have been to. Great positive energy—smart, perceptive and creative.