Brian's Musings

Thoughts on Design, Land Use and the Big Picture

In Homage to Heavy Equipment

Let’s hear it for our heavy equipment operators, who perhaps have left their mark on our shared landscape more than any architect or landscape architect or designer or engineer.  These drivers of massive machinery are capable of filling wetlands, redirecting...

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Reflecting on the Ranchette

What is the ideal parcel size?  This is a question we ask ourselves frequently, particularly out here in Nevada County where large ranches are continually being subdivided for suburban émigrés.  At their worst, these “rurban” subdivisions can inflict the same...

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On the View From Your Picture Window

Where do you really want to put that perfect view?  It’s why you bought your property, isn’t it?  And it might even be what makes your property more valuable than the properties on either side of you.  So why wouldn’t you want to put your house right on top of that...

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A Homage to the Digger Pine

The Digger Pine (aka the Gray Pine, or the Ghost Pine) captured my attention when we first moved onto our five-acre homestead many years ago.  Wisping faintly above our monoculture of young, overcrowded blue and live oaks, the irregular, outstretched limbs of the...

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On the Permanence of Land

I was at a gathering of the Bear Yuba Land Trust recently, listening to Joe Byrne and Marty Coleman talk about the thousands and thousands of acres of land they were putting into conservation in perpetuity and suddenly it was as if I was hearing those words for the...

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On the Design of Roads

One of the first things we do moving onto a new and undeveloped piece of land, is to start considering driveways and roads.  We need to access the land, after all, whether to log, or build our structures, or even to survey the property.  We need to be able to use the land, and so one of the first questions we ask ourselves (or simply ask the heavy equipment operator) is, where should the road go?

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