ASLA Advocacy Week 2018

UWASLA Co-President Sophie Krause (MLA ’19 candidate) and ASLA Student Representative Darin Rosellini (BLA ’18 candidate) traveled to Washington D.C. for Advocacy Week last month. This year’s ASLA Advocacy Week was “Landscape Architects Creating Resilient Solutions for Every Community.”

Here’s Sophie’s reflection on this opportunity:

At a time when just last year ASLA and the profession of landscape architecture had to defend the right for our occupational licensure, this year’s Advocacy Week felt particularly resonant. Within the theme of “Creating Resilient Solutions for Every Community,” 2018’s advancement focused on three key issues: supporting the legislative ability of our work to protect communities with nature-based materials through the Living Shorelines Act (H.R. 4525), using green infrastructure to update our water management systems through the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act (H.R. 2355), and ensuring environmental safety for all communities through the Environmental Justice Act (H.R. 4114). While these three issues may vary in scale and scope, the ability of our profession to help communities address these local, regional, and national concerns remains universal.

As a student working to gain their MLA, in a profession regulated by state licensure and policy, having the opportunity to be in the room with Washington state representatives was a powerful look into the window of how design works to inform these policy decisions. Thank you to ASLA for working to promote the profession of landscape architecture and advance our practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship – and a big thanks to our Washington chapter for helping ground some of our state’s designs into an equitable and forward-thinking framework.

And here is Darin’s write-up of the experience:

I am fortunate to sit on the Student Advisory Committee for ASLA. As one of six students on this committee, I have the opportunity to attend their annual leadership and advocacy week. This year it is was April 23rd-27th in the heart of Washington DC. We were within walking distance to all the major museums and monuments, and I did my best to see all the sites.

After a few days of sightseeing, the student representatives and myself woke up early on Wednesday morning to attend a leadership training with several key leaders from the national landscape architectural community, including Diane Jones Allen, Matthew Arnn and Robert Berg. They each talked about their unique career paths and leadership roles they have today. They spoke about designing for democracy, claiming open spaces, the new ways to do charrettes, and the value of pro bono work. We had valuable discussions on topics that normally aren’t covered in school, such as how to run a firm, networking, and the value of volunteering.

After our meetings, we went to ASLA HQ in Chinatown to see the newly remodeled building and the courtyard. The staff were very welcoming and so much fun to be around. I would say my favorite parts of the new space are the beautiful green roof and the remodeled staircase that is naturally-lit thanks to a new skylight. Overall, it is a beautiful building that is very welcoming and warm.

That evening, we had an educational session from the US Department of Transportation, followed by a training on our upcoming advocacy day. I met many people from across the country that care deeply about the role of landscape architecture. It was great to see smart people navigating the issues that face our federal government under the current administration and to hear how they are working hard to protect our environment through practical means.

Finally Advocacy Day was here, and it was wonderful. Our advocacy team consisted of three students, Sophie Krause from UW, Zochil Castro from WSU, and myself. We were paired with experienced professionals, Marieke Lacasse and Tim Slazinik. Marieke is a trustee for ASLA and Tim is the president of WASLA. As students, we were able to watch, listen, and jump in as we felt comfortable, which helped ease those fears of meeting with “big wigs.”
Our assignment was to meet with Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and State Representative Pramila Jayapal to discuss three key issues that are important to the landscape architecture community: the Living Shorelines Act, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, and the Environmental Justice Act.

We had a wonderful day wandering around the Hill speaking to our representatives. The weather was amazing and our representatives welcomed us openly. The Government Affairs ASLA team set this up beautifully. They worked hard to schedule appointments, organize the information into a simple format for communication, and overall provided really great support.

This was an absolutely fabulous experience, and I am honored to have been a part of Advocacy Week. I can’t thank ASLA enough for giving us this opportunity.

Editor’s Note: Sophie’s reflection first appeared in the May 2018 WASLA Newsletter.