From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

 Vol 11|No 1|September|2001

Adapting Plans to Local Conditions

Before construction of the grape arbor:
a row of vines that had been held up by posts and wires until a storm blew the rotten posts down.

© 2001, J. McKenzie, click on picture for full size.

While one can find plans, schemes, strategies and packaged programs to match almost any challenge, we have plenty of evidence that change takes root in the healthiest ways when the innovation is adapted to match local conditions.

Saving the salmon in a river in Oregon will be different from saving salmon in Washington, British Columbia, Maine, Tasmania or Scotland. The rivers are different, the salmon are different and the elements of the plan must be matched to special combinations of factors.

Introducing wireless laptop carts to middle schools in three different towns in Oregon with three different groups of students and teachers will work best if each school creates its own plans matched to special conditions. The same would hold true for laptop carts in elementary or high school classrooms in Oregon or middle school classrooms in Tasmania, Dunedin, Blackpool, Dallas, Sydney or Victoria.

In the case of the grape arbor project outlined in this article, the grape vines were preexisting and quite old. They were situated along a curved terrace that would make a single straight arbor an impossibility. The setting included several other levels of terraces, each with different kinds of plants, some of which might be hidden by a structure too tall.

Pictures of Terraces before Arbor Project (click to enlarge)
Wine casks
and old posts.
Looking up
from the bottom corner
Looking down
the old row

The arbor had to look good from the bottom corner of the property looking up through the terraces, but it also had to look good from the house looming above. The house looked down upon the terraces from three levels . . . the top floor, the middle floor and the ground level at the back of the house that held several other gardens.

It would have been fairly easy to buy several pre-fabricated units. It would have been easier to copy the linear post and wire design of the previous owner. But it was time for a change . . . an arbor that was customized to match the curves and special qualities of the terraces . . . an arbor that would compliment the thriving lavender, rosemary and Russian sage plants on other levels . . . an arbor that would echo the theme set by the four half wine casks that offered bright splashes of color throughout the hot summer months.

I found a photograph of a single grape trellis with a ladder top and decided to build three sections following the basic plan with modifications to fit the length, height and shape of the terraces.

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.

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