by Katrina Majewski
Public Relations Committee
On the weekend of January 5th 2018, I attended The American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA)'s Public Awareness Summit (the Summit) in Austin, Texas. This is the third time that I have been sent to this annual national event, representing the Northern California Chapter, and this one has been the most productive.
Allow me to share my experience here:
Public Connection | In order to encourage growth in the field of landscape architecture, we (landscape architects) and ASLA need to connect more solidly to the public through outreach. The Summit attendees discussed the need to cast the net wide, and recognized that advocacy and education about the field would be most effective at a young age. The platform for this is our education system – our schools. Some schools have established programs and there is a base interest and knowledge of the field; these should not be forgotten. For schools without a program, focus should be put on connecting with parents and guardians of children, as well as direct outreach to middle/high school students.
Perspectives | During the general discussion, broad goals were set, mainly to connect with the public, and steps to achieve those goals were shaped as we broke-out into small groups. The Summit is an ideal place for brainstorming. Each chapter representative, coming from a different state/city/landscape architecture field shares a unique perspective at the table, creating a diverse collection of viewpoints and ideas.
Results | Each attendee of the Summit comes together at this conference under a common impression: to increase public outreach and awareness in the field of landscape architecture. We address issues and problems at home, in our individual chapters, we influence the fabric that allows ASLA representatives from across the nation to discuss the topic of education and advocacy in how they know it within their community. The Summit brings ideas and influences that cohesively knit the notion of one American Society of Landscape Architecture.
Previous Public Awareness Summits have focused on social media, which allowed our chapter to approach the 2018 Summit with established and active social media accounts. We were prepared on that front. This year, however, the focus of this Summit shifted. Rather than focusing on social media outreach to the public, this year's focus was on recruitment and outreach. How can ASLA recruit more landscape architects? This is a familiar topic to the Summit, it enters into the conversation each year. This year, through brainstorming and group discussion, we were better able to form action-oriented goals and categorize them as short, medium or long-term, and solid takeaways to bring back to our chapters.