Health Scores: A Take Park Workshop
Mattaponi, Maryland

The creative work and performance associated with this project centers around a Take Part Workshop in Collective Creativity, planned for the 129-acres historic Bowie Estate and Mattaponi Retreat Center (MRC) site in Upper Marlboro, Maryland which is planned for the Fall 2019. Shared experiences in collective creativity are integral to Take Part Workshops. The Take Part Workshop process, developed by Lawrence Halprin and Associates Landscape Architects starting in the 1960s, is a powerful tool that elicits the active engagement of the community and stakeholders through a series of shared walks and creative works (called “scores”) on the development site. Scores include activities such as discussion, note taking, drawing, singing, and movement that enhance group inclusion and foster idea sharing. Halprin and Associates conducted Take Part Workshops to engage local communities and stakeholders in the design of well-known and well-loved places like the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia and Sea Ranch, California.

Mattaponi was purchased by Children’s National’s in 2018 to become a home for a consortium of fourteen residential camps and services for children with chronic health conditions including autism, sickle cell anemia, and type 1 diabetes. The Mattaponi site has a specific and conflicted history as a slave-holding estate.In addition, it is currently being farmed using agricultural methods that employ fertilizers and pesticides. Engaging the community perspective will allow the redevelopment design to be informed by a variety of different viewpoints and will prov ide a new framework for honoring the significant sociological and ecological factors that are a part of the site. The focus of the Take Part Workshop in Collective Creativity will be to explore how the land can promote both physical and psychological health.

Site Plan Historic Bowie Estate and Mattaponi Retreat Center, drawing by University of Maryland ARCH 601 studio, 2019 

Google Earth 2017 image of 129-acres Historic Bowie Estate and Mattaponi Retreat Center

Select Bibliography
Forman, Richard T.T., Land Mosaics: The Ecology of Landscapes and Regions, 1995.

Halprin, Lawrence, and Jim Burns. Taking Part: A Workshop Approach to Collective Creativity. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1974.

Halprin, Lawrence. The RSVP Cycles: Creative Processes in the Human Environment. New York: G. Braziller, 1970.

2018, National Center for Smart Growth + low heat, Washington, DC