I was very excited to attend the 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture as your incoming chapter president. Over 5,000 landscape architects and friends descended upon Minneapolis with much enthusiasm focused on the state of our profession. For me, the gathering reinforced the increased public awareness of the role we play to address the pressing challenges of today.
The Chapter Presidents Council meetings, attended by both Nathan Lahy and I, were lively and demonstrated the incredible level of commitment to the profession by hundreds of volunteers representing thousands of annual hours given back to our profession. SLA members are supported by a huge network of individuals that give of their time to advance the profession, as well as the many ASLA staff members that support our chapters. Seeing so many of them gathered in one place was humbling and impressive.
Walking among the many vendors in the enormous expo hall is always like taking a child to a toy store, a very expensive toy store. Some of the products are familiar but new products and technologies pop up every year to remind us that we must constantly adapt and make use of new advances impacting design and product selection.
The education sessions reflected the vast breadth and depth of our profession and the diversity of interests. I noted several presentations focusing on strategies to run successful design firms including promoting good culture and career development opportunities for employees. Climate action was appropriately a significant topic, in keeping with the key initiatives of ASLA and the International Federation of Landscape Architecture (IFLA). Community design for equitable and inclusive environments was also a recurring theme as landscape architects continue to pursue work that addresses past failures in planning policies and civic leadership. Finally, the impact of our profession on park and open space design continues to reflect an increased global demand for more connectivity to nature, and for creating sustainable, resilient places with nature-based solutions in response to a mandate to protect and restore our natural environment.
The recent designation of landscape architecture as a STEM discipline is huge, and found its way into many conversations throughout the weekend. I encourage you to review the application materials that led to this monumental decision. The materials provide a strong framework for your discussions regarding where landscape architecture fits into the entire spectrum of planning and design and helps us move beyond the idea that we are a misunderstood profession, and into a conversation about how we are leaders addressing some of the most important issues of our times.
I'm inspired and excited to lead the Chapter over the next year!