This month, the Southern California Horticultural Society webinar speaker is Matt Williams, an urban planner with the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. His program will be about the history of Black landscape designers and planters, including renowned historical figures like George Washington Carver as well as contemporary notables in the field, such as landscape architects Elizabeth Kennedy and Walter Hood.
Williams’ presentation will cover a varied horticultural spectrum ranging from pursuits such as botany and agricultural science, to gardeners, designers and landscapers, as well as authors, poets, civil rights activists, and even a plant stylist. In addition to the aforementioned names, we will also be learning about the contributions of Edmund Albius, Anne Spencer, Everett Fly and Hilton Carter among others.
Showcasing these individuals and educating the public about them directly aligns with Williams’ efforts to promote and support interest in the Black horticultural community. He is currently serving as a board member for the Black Landscape Architects Network, a national nonprofit offering scholarship support to Black landscape students, as well as advocacy and networking for Black landscape practitioners. He also advises on Architecture & Design for the Black Legacy Action Coalition, a nonprofit development organization based in Detroit.
Passion for community, culture, and gardens are what originally led Williams to explore large parks, urban agriculture, and environmental justice projects across the nation before earning a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Louisiana State University. He was also a designer with the landscape architecture firm of Spackman Mossop Michaels before assuming his current position with the City of Detroit. When not working as an urban planner and landscape architect, Williams may be found pursuing his interests in drone photography and videography, and you can find him on Instagram @matty_will313.
The breadth of talent Williams will be speaking on has something of horticultural interest to offer everyone.