Women In The Dirt: Women Architects Shaping Our World
Director/Producer: Carolann Stoney
Writer: Tasha Hou
Producers: Robyn Newkirk, Alex Jones
Cinematographer: Mark W. Gray
Editor: Robyn Newkirk, Yana Gorskaya
Landscape frames our days: trees or flowers, sidewalks and walls, city parks or private gardens. But who envisions this framework for our daily lives? Women in the Dirt is a documentary about seven groundbreaking landscape architects. Their work ranges from intimate, jewel-like gardens to vast urban projects. Artists and scientists, the women bring to their work awareness of sustainability, function, and beauty. Women in the Dirt reveals how these self-described “masters of the obvious” create the sublime.
Web Site: www.womeninthedirt.com
APPEARING IN THE FILM
Cheryl Barton has established a national reputation for the seamless integration of design
excellence and environmental intelligence in her work. Her approach is based on the belief that
landscape is a powerful medium that can transform human values as well as create inspiring
As an artist with an undergraduate degree in geology, prior to entering Harvard’s Graduate
School of Design, she spent two years working with Dan Kiley, one of the founders of
modernism, in landscape architecture. She is a recipient of the prestigious 2003-2004 Rome
Prize. A member of the USGBC and a LEED Accredited Professional, she has taught Sustainable
Site Planning and Landscape Design workshops at the Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco,
and a ‘Green-on-Brown’ studio in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental
Planning at the University of California at Berkeley.
An example of Ms. Barton's public/private work is The Gap corporate headquarters in San
Francisco. It features a rooftop dining terrace, a pedestrian plaza, and streetscape. Taking formal
cues from 20th-century modern art, the landscape for the dining terrace is minimalist and
abstract while incorporating the view of Treasure Island. The pedestrian plaza is defined by a
series of terraced plinths and granite benches that organize the space and provide a structural
soil-planting zone for a grove of gingko trees.
WOMEN IN THE DIRT PRESS NOTES
On the Rosie the Riveter Project she worked as both artist and landscape architect. This
memorial garden pays tribute to the women who build Victory Ships during World War
II. Built on land once used for shipbuilding, in San Francisco’s Harbor, the project’s
includes reproduce photos and quotes from the women who worked there. This project
was part of a world wide community through the use of the web.
Her background includes a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard School
Andrea Cochran is interested in how people move through an outdoor space. When designing for
movement, she takes into consideration safety, aesthetics, and efficiency. Her work draws
boundaries with a controlled palette of materials, creating permeable edges that blur the line
between the natural and built environment. Her projects range from residences, museums, hotels
and civic projects.
Ms. Cochran is artfully aware of the scale she is using in any design. A striking example of her
work is Stone Edge Farm, where her design includes a pyramid 15 feet tall and 100 feet long,
anchored by olive trees. The design a includes a large meadow that changes with the seasons.
Created between a Zen spa with an 80-foot lap pool, an observatory, and a grove of ancient oak
trees, the proportions of the site are masterful.
She holds a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard School of Design. Ms.
Cochran has received many awards. Most recently she received a Cooper Hewitt National
Quote: “I'm interested in the perceptual aspect as it can be applied to landscape design. Because
it's all about space and when you tweak people's movement through space you can also tweak
Isabelle C. Greene
The name Greene was first known as a cornerstone of American architecture through Greene &
Greene Architects of Pasadena. Isabelle C. Greene has continued her family’s tradition, focusing
on landscape architecture. Her firm is dedicated to creating excellent design within the context of
sustainable living. Her landscapes age gracefully and flow naturally with the land and climate,
conserving water, energy, and materials.
Ms. Greene has designed several gardens that have become famous. The Lovelace Garden, is a
family project that features a 60-foot lap pool, set in woodlands which abound on the property,
the pool is completely surrounded with boulders from the site. The Valentine Garden, completed
in 1984 in Montecito, CA, is one of the most photographed contemporary gardens in the world.
A Zen garden using Mediterranean plants placed with a museum-like quality, the garden includes
colorful ground covers and gorgeous tiered planters.
Ms. Greene has a Bachelor of Arts in Botany from UCLA, specializing in California taxonomy.
Quote: “I don’t believe in designing a garden that needs tons of mowing, a garden that
gulps water. The plants that were here originally can be used for just about all the
purposes that imported plants can be used for, and if they’re designed carefully, then they
don’t need that kind of struggle for maintenance.”
Mia Lehrer has created both high-end private gardens and large public spaces. She is dedicated
to revitalizing areas of Southern California through highly creative, sustainable and community-
Ms Lehrer continues to work on the LA River Project. Currently a 32 mile scar of concrete basin
snaking through Los Angeles County. The project has the potential of changing the face of Los
Angeles in the next two decades. This long-range public project will bring the community
together, socially, physically and economically.
Another example of Ms. Lehrer' work is the Orange County Great Park. Working with a team of
other experts, she began creating an engaging public park on 1300 acres of an abandoned Air
Force airport. Still in its infancy, the park is already considered a gem in the community.
Ms. Lehrer has a B.A. in Environmental Design from Tufts University, and a Masters of in
Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Her awards include the 2009 Los Angeles Business Council, Landscape Architecture Civic
Project & Grand Prize Award for Vista Hermosa Natural Park, and the 2009 American Society
of Landscape Architects National Honor Award in Analysis and Planning for the Los Angeles
River Revitalization Master Plan.
Quote: “As landscape architects we are equipped so well, to deal with the issues of our time.
And we have a certain level of responsibility to try to make a difference.”
Lauren Melendrez began her career as a landscape architect working in the City of Los Angeles
Planning Department. She began seeing a need to change the appearance of downtown Los
Angeles. As Founder of Melendrez and Associates in Los Angeles, her focus was creating
livable public spaces with awareness of pedestrian safety, one design at a time. To see this design
process succeed, Ms. Melendrez has been directly involved with federal, state, and local
government agencies; elected officials; commissions; advisory committees; and community
groups. Because of her extensive knowledge of urban design issues, Melendrez has been
appointed to many boards, task forces, and committees to address development of related
policies within the Los Angeles region.
One of her best-known projects is the Staples Center in the South Park area of Los Angeles.
There, Ms. Melendrez used landscape and hardscape to make the space inviting, beautiful and
safe. She also helped create the Metro Gold Line project, designing safe and eye-catching spaces
for the 13 Metro Stations between Los Angeles and Pasadena. At the Los Angeles Police
Department Headquarters in downtown, Melendrez & Associates designed a park-like setting of
benches, trees, plants and installed a striking series of sculptural barriers.
Ms. Melendrez holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from California State
Polytechnic University Pomona, where she was the only woman in her class. She has received
many awards. One of her favorites is a necklace and hand-painted banner from the Ninth Street
Elementary School students in downtown Los Angeles for helping beautify their campus.
Quote: “I thought that it would be really great to put a small group of designers and planners
together to start to change the face of Los Angeles. I saw how much of an impact just a few
people could have on the development of a city and what that city looked like.”
Pamela Palmer has always been interested in water and its calming and healing effects. This
interest has been evident throughout her life, as an artist and as a professional landscape architect.
Focusing primarily on residential design, Ms. Palmer is known for the creative way in which she
incorporates water into her work. In her design of the Horizon Garden, she took advantage of its
proximity to the ocean to highlight inspiring views. Blue Oak Hills, a residence in Sonoma, is a
40-acre site peppered with blue oaks. To celebrate the trees, Ms. Palmer created two level plains
of water, so that as one circulates around the site, they’re always seeing the trees in reflection in
the water. The water creates a kind of false horizon that is constantly morphing and changing.
Ms. Palmer’s education includes a B.S. in Art from UCLA and a Masters in Landscape
Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Quote: “What we can do as landscape architects is look at how we can use materials to the best
advantage, and our resources like water. Water is so precious that we can’t waste it, we have to
use it in small amounts, and we have to use it effectively.”
Katherine Spitz is an artist, a licensed architect, and a licensed landscape architect. She enjoys
working on complex projects that reflect her expertise in all three disciplines. Ms. Spitz works
with plants as if they were paint on a canvas while shaping the project to the client’s specific
needs. She views the Southern California suburban landscape as a laboratory for the creation of
urban spaces that maintain their connection to a larger geography.
Her concern for pedestrian safety and convenience is evident in her design of city streets. Ms.
Spitz designs city streets to be beautiful, safe, and reflect the character of their communities.
She is a proponent of widening sidewalks, adding benches for people to rest and trees to provide
shade. On Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, she added a center median and narrowed traffic
lanes from each side of the street, forcing traffic to slow down. At the Ford Amphitheater which
is built in a small canyon in Los Angeles, Ms. Spitz was commissioned to redesign the entrance,
making it accessible to handicapped people. She designed the space using native trees and shrubs
which, she says, are the only plants that will survive that environment long term.
Ms. Spitz has a B.A. in Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a
Master’s in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Quote: “When I see sycamores, I love them, because they’re not really yellow, they’re not really
gold, they’re a little bit brown. They speak of death and rebirth. And they cast this amazing
golden glow. So, when we bring that to the city, we’re bringing an amazing piece of art into the
ABOUT THE CREW
Carolann Stoney is a graduate landscape architect and a lifetime member of the
Mediterranean Garden Society. While studying landscape architecture, Carolann became
aware of the need for information about women in the profession. The short film she
produced as a student won an award, and is the basis for this documentary. Carolann has
a passion for sharing good design and sustainable gardening practices within all climate
zones. Her own garden follows sustainable practices of low-water requirements,
recycling of materials, minimal maintenance requirements, and extraordinary beauty.
Director of Photography
Mark W. Gray has been making films since childhood. Soon after graduating from
University of Southern California’s School of Cinema, Mark became a Director of
Photography, shooting a dozen feature length films by the time he was 30. He has worked
in many genres, including Action, Science Fiction, Drama, Comedy, Reality and
Documentary. His Films include Dark Rider, Prototype X29A, A.P.E.X, Straight to the
Heart, Back to Back and Firetrap, as well as MOWs for NBC, CBS and the Disney
Yana Gorskaya received the American Cinema Editors Eddie award for her work on the
Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound. Other award winning documentary credits
include In The Name Of Love, Seeds, and Sonny Boy. Other credits include the Sundance
World Competition feature Eagle Vs. Shark, and Smart People, with Dennis Quaid, Sarah
Jessica Parker and Ellen Page. Most recently, she collaborated with Spellbound director
Jeffrey Blitz on the Sundance competition documentary feature Lucky,and reprised her
role as consulting editor for Eagle Vs. Shark director Taika Waititi with his fiction
feature Boy, winner of the grand prix at the Berlin Film Festival for best children’s
feature and the highest grossing native New Zealand film of all time. She received her
B.A. from Columbia University and her MFA from University of Southern California.
Associate Producer and Editor
Robyn Newkirk recently graduated with a degree in landscape architecture and comes to
this project with a wealth of subject knowledge, as well as computer and editing skills.
She edited the first short film, which was honored by the American Society of Landscape
Architects. As Assistant producer and second camera operator, Ms. Newkirk has
participated in filming 15 of the 18 interviews and provided all the first cut editing for the
professional version of Women in the Dirt.
Assistant Producer, Graphic Designer, Brand Coordinator
Alex Jones has a Bachelor of Science in Design Management from the Art Institute of
Portland, with a focus in photography, branding and film. He is a partner and creative
director at Half and Half Collective, in Missoula, Montana. Alex’s photographs have
been shown across the U.S.
Tasha Hou has an undergraduate degree in journalism and a graduate degree in film from
UCLA. She works as a screen writer for one of the large Hollywood Film Studios.
Eric Tramp has been a professional cameraman for over 20 years. He has worked on
many feature films, TV, commercials, and documentaries. A great man on a steadycam,
Brian Corral graduated with BA in Cinema from San Francisco State University in 2007
with an emphasis in production sound. He moved to LA in 2008, soon became a union
member (Local 695), and has since then been working in Southern California as a sound
technician, in a variety of genres. This is his first documentary gig.
Sara Tramp is majoring in Digital Media with a Focus on Motion Graphics Typography
at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Sara created all the film’s motion
Community Engagement Consultants
Angela and Gwen Alston are sisters and business associates who share a passion for
contemporary issues that affect our everyday lives and those of future generations.
Angela is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked in community relations and
publicity. She holds an MFA in film production from the University of Texas at Austin
and a BA in philosophy and biology from Swarthmore College. Gwen comes from a
marketing and publishing background, with degrees from the University of Madrid, New
York University, and Vassar College. Together they help filmmakers achieve their goals,
extend the life of their films, and reach their core audiences through festivals, community
screenings, partnerships, and social media of all kinds. Award-winning films they have
represented include Striking a Chord (2010), Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie
(2009), A Sea Change (2009), Orgasm Inc. (2009), and Making the Crooked Straight
(2008). Based in Dallas, Texas, and Madrid, Spain, Gwen and Angela have an international reach.