ASLA Oregon LANDbytes JULY 2011 Launch Feature:
Surviving the Modern Economy - Oregon Style
By Rebecca Wahlstrom
You donâ€™t need me to tell you that times have been tight for the last few years; tales of layoffs, short work weeks, and firms closing their doors are difficult and too familiar. How does one survive, dare I say even thrive, in todayâ€™s economy? First, a look at the numbers; looking at Oregon job growth, measured on a year over year basis, itâ€™s up by 1.8 percent, the best rate weâ€™ve seen since early 2007. Although progress in June stalled out, the unemployment rate has dropped 1.3 percent over the last five months. While the national debt crisis or repercussions of unforeseen world events can easily put a downward spin on recovery, the general outlook is guardedly good. In the May 2011 Executive Summary for Oregonâ€™s Economic Forecast, they summed up their report by saying, â€œThe recovery is happening, but the green go ahead has a bit more yellow caution.â€
Now we looked at some of the numbers, letâ€™s look at how they translate to our daily lives. How is Oregonâ€™s modern economy affecting landscape architecture and the A/E industry in general? Are firms using this time as a catalyst for change? Are companies teaming in unusual ways? They say â€œnecessity is the mother of inventionâ€; is that true? Since I was curious, I looked back through the records of the Great Depression and found that even in those bleak times there were quite a list of inventions, some of them being; Polaroid photography, the jet engine, the electron microscope, and the first drive-in theatre.
Reading that led to more questions; are we innovating? Forging new connections with our A/E partners and creating new ways to make our towns more creative and livable places? Economists are cautiously optimistic about our futures, are we? Do we hold that same faith that things will get better and projects will become more plentiful? With firms hungry for a bigger piece of the pie, what steps are landscape architects taking to ensure their spot at the design table?
So many questionsâ€¦next month, Iâ€™ll have spoken with landscape architects and designers around town to get their views. I hope you can join me for what I believe will be an interesting perspective on how things are going around Oregon and where we think things are headed.