July 2012

Spring and Fall Conferences, Public Awareness, and Elections

Spring Conference
Last month in New Bern, NC Landscape Architects and others gathered to network, engage in continuing education opportunities and learn about the political advocacy efforts of ASLA and NCASLA. Two of the conference highlights were the keynote address by Paul Morris FASLA, Assistant Director of Transit for NCDOT, and ASLA President Susan Hatchell's address to the membership. President Hatchell's address encouraged members to, at every opportunity, identify themselves as Landscape Architects and educate those we come into contact with about what we do. She stressed that out of adverse times come innovation and invention and how we need to embrace that opportunity.

In addition to hearing from experts in the field of transportation planning, public art, sustainable communities and design, members heard from ASLA national leadership and state leaders on political advocacy and legislation affecting the practice of landscape architecture.

At the federal level, threats to transportation funding endanger funds for projects planned and designed by Landscape Architects as well as jobs employing Landscape Architects. Members were encouraged to participate in the ASLA Advocacy network by responding when notices and alerts are issued by ASLA. It only takes 30 seconds and it really does matter. Since the conference, ASLA has continued to work towards a bi-partisan long-term transportation bill. However, the final surface transportation reauthorization bill negotiated by the House/Senate Conference Committee significantly scales back three vital programs that are major contributors to communities' economic growth: Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes To School, and Recreational Trails. For more information on ASLA's transportation priorities www.asla.org/advocacy

On the state level we heard recaps on the NCASLA Legislative Breakfast and briefings on various ideas that may become proposed legislation. The most important of these is the possible movement toward professional board consolidation or elimination. It is important for us to communicate to our representatives that elimination of or any consolidation of the NC Board of Landscape Architects with other professional boards does not save the state any money, will not improve government efficiency and is not a restraint of trade. Truth is that elimination / consolidation will weaken the NC Board of Landscape Architect's ability to protect the public's health, safety and welfare and our ability to practice the full breadth of our profession under GS 89A. This issue is likely to be addressed when the legislature returns for the long session, so it is important that we stay on top of this issue.

For those of you who attended the conference we appreciate your support and hope the conference met or exceeded your expectations.

Conference Survey
In New Bern we also took a survey of attendees to inform our conference planning. The survey indicated the following:

Not surprisingly most attendees come primarily for the continuing education opportunities and networking. 78% of attendees were ASLA members and most for more than 10 years ( 61%). 70% of attendees were practitioners with more than 15 years in the profession, mostly principals and project managers. About 50% were working in the private sector and more than 80% received full or partial financial support from their employer to attend.

There was a split preference for having one or two conferences per year. Subject matter for future conferences that received significant interest included professional development including marketing and business management along with sessions on new products / technologies, sustainable design and storm water management.

While admittedly unscientific, it seems apparent from the results that we are not engaging young practitioners and attendees like we should and membership is interested in sessions that might not necessarily count for licensure continuing education contact hours, but would be valuable and relevant to them from a business development perspective.

We will also be surveying exhibitors and sponsors so that we can continue to improve the conferences for all involved.

Fall Conference
For those who did not get to join us in New Bern, we hope to see you at the fall conference at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro on October 25/26. The conference will offer educational opportunities and NCASLA professional awards will be presented at lunch. The Executive Committee will meet on the 25th. Executive Committee meetings are open to the membership so please attend if you are interested in learning more about NCASLA or to let us know more about your interests and ideas.

Public Awareness
As part of the 2012 public awareness campaign, ASLA Chapters will conduct rededication ceremonies at sites across the nation between August 31 and September 10th. These ceremonies will raise public awareness of the landscape architecture profession and the importance of designing and maintaining these sites for the benefit of their communities.

If you are interested in organizing an event please notify our Public Relations Committee Chair Howard Capps at howardcapps@gmail.com.

NCASLA Elections
NCASLA elections will be conducted over the next several weeks. Currently a call for nominations has been sent out and nominations need to be received by July 25th. If you are interested in getting involved with NCASLA leadership and / or have questions please contact me. I am happy to discuss the roles, responsibilities, benefits and commitment required. Email me at brian@obsla.net or call me at 919-755-0046

I hope you are having a good summer and are beating the heat.

Brian H. Starkey, RLA / ASLA
Landscape Architect
President, NCASLA