Henry left Iowa to travel for some time - biking across the U.S. and skipping across oceans to explore intercontinental landscapes. Inspired by his travels and discoveries to become a landscape architect, Henry was homeward bound. He began Iowa State University's landscape architecture program, and the academic resources available there gave him opportunities to learn more about experiential design - movement through landscapes - on multiple levels, both locally and abroad. For three years, he interned for his professor on the Iowa Living Roadways Program, providing planning and design assistance for transportation corridors to small Iowa communities, much of which included talking to community members about transportation barriers.
As a true citizen of the world, though, Henry ventured off with scholarship money from ISU and the Merkel Endowment to lead a research expedition in Humla, Nepal, studying pedestrian life and extreme transportation barriers among the Himalayas - the project for which the Landscape Architecture Foundation has dubbed him an Olmsted Scholar. On opposite sides of the world, rural Iowa is flat with widely paved roads and cars. Rural Nepal is mountainous with goats as travel companions. The one thing allowing Henry and his research partners to navigate the strikingly different environment was their ability to listen, with their eyes, ears, and a GPS.
The biggest takeaway, from writing the grant to learning to not take sanitized water for granted, was that landscapes and the built environment shape people's experiences in the world. They define culture and livelihood.
There are opportunities and constraints in every environment, depending on perspective. An elderly woman or child in Iowa not having enough time or feeling unsafe to cross the street to get to the post office before the light turns red, for instance, sounds much different than a native Humli expressing the need to walk over 30 miles a day over steep grades to retrieve basic resources. Different, but both valid.
When you can see the different ways people live, if you listen to them, you can empathize with them and start to experience the world through their eyes.
Whether he's doing research, teaching kids, or engaging in public outreach for a park project, Henry brings his passion for experiential design to the forefront of everything he does. Getting the opportunity now to facilitate the visioning for Coulson Park, a historic site in Big Sky country confronted with water contamination and transportation barriers, is right in line with what he's been working on all along. The underdeveloped riverfront park sits along the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana, bisected by trails and blockaded by highways.