ASLA Oregon LANDbytes SEPTEMBER 2011 Feature:
Hello - I’m a Landscape Architect!
By Robin Gyorgyfalvy, RLA, ASLA
ASLA Oregon Public Awareness Advocate
When you tell someone you’re a landscape architect, have you noticed what a great response you get? It’s usually a huge smile with words like “I wish I were one” or “that is the field I wish I had gone into.” The creative and impassioned spirit of landscape architecture is alive and well. We have an incredible story to tell. And for the first time ever, we are telling it to the rest of the world together.
The Understory of 08.17.11 was the launching of events that initiated a two-year campaign to create public awareness for landscape architecture. Landscape architects took to the streets all over the country and even across the globe. They placed themselves in outdoor gathering places and talked to people in their communities. Landscape architects everywhere told the public how they designed their environment and showcased many public spaces that were designed to look better, solve environmental or social issues, and restore sites back to natural healthy conditions.
As a sampling of these events, Minnesota landscape architects showed the public how to solve water quality problems by designing floating islands with recycled materials to restore unhealthy lakes. North Dakota landscape architects presented the public with examples of how to improve the environment by creating active and healthy public spaces. New York landscape architects demonstrated how quality of life has improved for urban dwellers both in the past and present by showcasing places like Central Park and High Line.
At Mississippi State University, landscape architecture students generated excitement and interest with outreach to other students. Colorado State University students created an art installation to demonstrate how landscape architects transform places into functional and beautiful environments that engage people. Students at University of Nevada at Las Vegas chalked the talk and UCLA got all those cars to honk their love for landscape architects.
Almost all of the landscape architects in Juneau, Alaska gathered at a waterfront park being redesigned and while receiving lots of press, they successfully engaged the public and their event morphed into a hobnobbing political event. Kentucky had three great events and began to get the word out about landscape architects in their state. More than 60 Illinois landscape architects gathered in three different locations to talk to the public about the parks they designed and in doing so, they strengthened their own volunteer network, re-energized their chapter, and generated plenty of momentum to support the next sequence of public awareness events.
The next step is a public awareness webinar this month where all of the public awareness advocates will evaluate how everything went and brainstorm even better ways and create better tools to help landscape architects get the word out. One of the strategies throughout the campaign is to harness the great energy and creative ideas already being generated by guess who……landscape architects! Stay tuned and be ready for the next public awareness event opportunity.
In the meantime, you can now use the new interactive website at asla.org/design to help you do a great job of explaining your profession to the public. Designed as part of the public awareness campaign, the website is exciting because it describes how to become a landscape architect, how to collaborate with others, and how to solve problems in the environment. The site also features a video of a landscape architect taking the steps involved in a design process. Be sure to check the latest August 30, 2011 LAND E-NEWS from ASLA at http://asla.org/land/LandNewsletter.aspx for more of the stories told on the day of The Understory 08.17.11.
Creating awareness for landscape architecture is something each of us can do simply by saying “I’m a landscape architect and I design your environment.” The power of connecting and collaborating is what we landscape architects do best and what we accomplished in one day was inspirational.
Thank you to all who joined in and to those who plan to next time!