Emily Schlickman is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design at the University of California, Davis, whose research explores design techniques for accelerated climate change. Schlickman received a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MLA from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Brett Milligan is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design at the University of California, Davis. There he is the director of the Metamorphic Landscapes Lab, dedicated to prototyping landscape-based adaptations to conditions of accelerated climatic and environmental change, through extensive fieldwork and transdisciplinary design research. Much of his work is based in California, undoing and reworking colonial legacies of land reclamation, water infrastructure, flood control, and fire suppression.
Emily and Brett recently published Design by Fire: Resistance, Co-Creation and Retreat in the Pyrocene.
Pyro Postcard Series
help pick a new mascot
Interested in exploring other creatures to to rival Smokey Bear's impact on America's take on fire suppression, Emily & Brett are surveying other options.
Cast your vote for a mascot (many featured in the Pyro Postcard series) fitting of our pyro future on their website.
While we are based in Northern California and most of our work centers on the Sierra Nevada and Coastal Ranges, the questions and considerations we pose transcend political and geographic boundaries, as many places are facing similar wildfire conditions. Pyro Postcards is part of a larger futuring project about wildfire. The project invites collective speculation on the transformative nature of fire and the ways it can change the landscapes of the American West. For one certainty we have is that our fire-prone landscapes will be different from what they are today, and we don’t know exactly what they will become. But, by looking at a few horizons, we can imagine a multitude of futures. In presenting Pyro Postcards, we hope participants can feel their way into possible fiery futures and our potential role in making them. Some are bleak. Some are exciting. Some are just fucking weird and stick in your mind.
more from their perspective
Image of a prescribed burn Brett helped with to try to restore native grassland and Oak Woodland habitat on the UC McLaughlin Natural Reserve. He likes to assist with intentional burns where and when he can.
Yolo County recently launched a prescribed burn association (PBA), a community-based network focused on educating and training residents about intentional fire practices. This is an image of their first burn just north of Capay, California.
Emily likes to spend time in burn scars to observe how landscapes respond to wildfire events. This is an ash sample that she collected from the footprint of the LNU Lightning Complex Fires.
above: LNU Berryessa
left: Quail Ridge Reserve
These images are part of photographic documentation Brett takes of landscapes to see how they change and regenerate after wildlife. These locations feature chaparral habitats in California after burning in LNU complex fire in 2020.
This is an image of an indigenous-led cooperative burn in Cobb, California. Emily is part of TERA’s on-call ecocultural fire crew for the 2023-2024 season.
This is a sample of design work by landscape architecture students Madison Main, Yining Li, Xinyi Gao for the Field Guide to Transformation studio Brett recently taught. In this studio students worked together to re-envision how the UC McLaughlin reserve might become a place for more proactive fire research, offer hands-on experiential learning for students, and foster greater ties to surrounding communities.