Julie Stevens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University, where she has developed an innovative student design-build service-learning program. Beginning in 2011, Stevens has established a multi-year partnership with the Iowa Department of Corrections to create therapeutic environments for prisons, including gardens for prison staff and incarcerated individuals. The team of Iowa State students, prison staff and incarcerated individuals at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) received the Award of Excellence in Community Service from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 2015 for the ICIW outdoor classrooms and a decompression deck and the 2018 ASLA Award of Excellence in Community Service for the Children’s Garden, a visiting garden for incarcerated women and their visitors.
Stevens is a founder of the ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network, which focuses on creating healthy environments for all people by integrating environmental justice issues into landscape architectural education, research and professional practice. Stevens is a contributor to Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity, Island Press
Toews, Barbara, Wagenfeld, Amy, Stevens, Julie, Shoemaker, Carissa. (2020) "Feeling at Home in Nature: A Mixed Method Study of the Impact of Visitor Activities and Preferences in a Prison Visiting Room Garden." Journal of Offender Rehabilitation.
Stevens, Julie, Toews, Barbara, and Wagenfeld, Amy. (2018) “Designing the Correctional Landscape: An Invitation to Landscape Architecture Professionals.” Landscape Journal. 37.1.
Wagenfeld Amy, Toews, Barbara and Stevens, Julie. (2018 ) “Designing Outdoor Decompression Areas to Buffer the Impact of Corrections Fatigue on Prison Employees.” Design for Health.
Toews, Barb, Stevens, Julie, and Wagenfeld, Amy. (2018) “Impact of a nature-based intervention on incarcerated women.” International Journal of Prisoner Health.
Trauma-Informed Design with Children
I am thrilled to be working with the Beloit residential treatment facility for children, managed by Lutheran Services of Iowa. Located in Ames, Iowa it is a Trauma-Sensitive Care environment whose focus is helping children feel safe while they learn to identify their emotions, and how to communicate with others. Through a deeply interdisciplinary participatory design process including students from landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, occupational therapy, and human development programs, as well as staff and children from Beloit, we created a developmentally appropriate, sensitively designed therapeutic outdoor courtyard space to help alleviate the devastating and systemic effects of traumatic adverse childhood experiences in a safe and nurturing way.
All children, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status deserve opportunities to grow and thrive, and this project exemplifies this mission through design of a safe and joyful sensory-rich nature space. In addition to the courtyard garden, two indoor spaces, a de-escalation room (Nature Nook) and a sensory corridor (Woodland Walk) were designed to correspond with the courtyard garden and provide an additional level of connection with nature.
Due to Covid19, we are not able to construct the garden at this time but have continued to engage with the Beloit kids and staff through weekly art activities via video conferencing.