ASLA Oregon LANDbytes APRIL 2012 Feature:
If You're Happy and You Know It...
By Rebecca Wahlstrom
You might remember that kids song - maybe you’ve even sang a few rounds of it with the kids currently in your life. It’s a song that immediately induces eye-rolling in some adults at the mere mention of it, but strangely enough, by the end of the clapping and the singing, one does feel a bit happier (or sillier, which is a close second to happy). My point is this; April is National Landscape Architecture Month, when activities happen that showcase what landscape architects do and how we play a part in building healthy and active communities. Asking already busy people to add one more activity to their already busy life might provoke a certain amount of eye-rolling, and one might even be asking who cares or feel like it’s a lost cause. I decided to investigate this line of thinking just a bit by asking some of the organizers of last fall’s Understory events if they saw any lasting effects from their efforts.
The Springfield event, where the folks at the Willamalane Park and Recreation District did an information blast to let their co-workers know what they did, reported good results. Here is what Nicole Ankeney said, “I think the biggest impact is that when people have a better understanding of what you do, they are more comfortable talking to you or asking questions about park projects or even discussing their own personal landscape issues. My department is called planning and development and I think it is very vague to most employees here what we do exactly, so I think the email was an icebreaker that opened up the door for communication. It also helped with perception because coworkers now have a better understanding of how much education and work experience that it takes to become a licensed landscape architect”. Robin Gyorgyfalvy, who headed up the Bend event with Chelsea Schneider, said that the charrette that they led was so successful and connected so many people in their community that they did a follow up event this year (see Robin’s article in this month’s LANDbytes).
These events connected people in ways that hadn’t happened before someone made an effort to reach out. Public outreach can be as simple as an email or poster session at your work, or a more complex endeavor, like a community charrette. Big or small, I think that once you finish the event, you’ll be happy…and you know it.
Happy National Landscape Architecture Month!