To all RIASLA members,

I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy. At a time when we should be ramping up for World Landscape Architecture Month, we find ourselves isolated in our homes. Most offices have sent their employees to work from home. Most municipalities have shut their town offices and many constructions sites have been ordered to shut down. Our day-to-day lives are certainly quite a bit different than we ever could have expected just a couple of months ago. While it is uncertain how long these strange and scary times will last, one thing that it is certain is that we will not soon forget it. It will leave a lasting mark on our economy and our opportunities as landscape architects. During these unprecedented times, I encourage you to reach out to your colleagues and to support one another.

RIASLA President Andrew Pichette and his at home co-worker

Originally, I had drafted this “President’s Letter” as best practices for landscape architects to keep ourselves sane during these troubling times. Instead, I decided that you all might be able to use something to take your mind off of things for a minute.

Like most of you, I’ve been working from home over the past week. During that time, I have found myself getting into a good, but very different, groove. Every day, I get out for a walk with my wife, my daughter, and our dog. I bring this up because it’s something that we used to do frequently but like many other things, we get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to include these simple things that make us happy.

I recently sat in as one of the judges for the University of Rhode Island RIASLA Student Awards. We heard from 4 different students and their instructions were to capture and present projects that reflect their passion for landscape architecture. All four students came from different backgrounds and had different approaches to some of the same projects. One of the students asked a question that I’ve had on my brain for several weeks now, “Why Landscape Architecture?”

April is Landscape Architecture Month and while we won’t be able to get together for networking events or celebrations, I would encourage you to put your phone down and step away from the news and social media for just a few moments and think about how you got where you are today. As licensed or aspiring landscape architects, we all come from different backgrounds, some from our long-lasting love of the outdoor world, some with construction backgrounds, some applying their love of arts and design. We even find ourselves in different “niches” of landscape architecture, as planners, residential landscape architects, and even disc course architects. Remind yourself of what drives you as a landscape architect, challenge yourself to find out-of-the-box solutions to problems that may seem easy to solve. If you’ve lost that fire that you had when you were fresh out of school, use this time to try to find it again. Remember ‘genius loci’ and try to capture the spirit of place in all your designs.

Ask yourself, “Why Landscape Architecture?”


While we are all social distancing, here are a few tips and tricks to celebrate World Landscape Architecture Month while also practicing social distancing:

  • Take the time to get outside and go back to some of your favorite parks or projects.

  • Encourage your neighbors to do the same and advocate for the work you’ve done as a landscape architect.

  • Break out your sketchbook and draw. Share your sketches on Instagram, tag RIASLA and use the hashtag #SketchingDuringWLAM.

  • Reach out and connect with your colleagues, past and present, and make sure they are doing well.

Please be on the lookout for some digital educational opportunities we’ll be offering over the coming months. We hope to see you as soon as this all passes.

Be well—

Andrew Pichette

RIASLA Chapter President

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Recently there has been a trend for ecologically designed, naturalistic landscapes, and meadows have been one of the stars. New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) is one organization that has been encouraging ecological design through a series of conferences and workshops. NDAL is a nonprofit organization that looks to educate and provide effective techniques for incorporating America’s plant communities into the designed landscape. Recently they hosted a workshop that filled participants with knowledge of how to start tackling this method of design / implementation, and excitement about the potential benefits this method can have.

Photo: NDAL, courtesy Ian Quate / Nelson Byrd Woltz

Naturally, one of the largest topics for the workshop was American meadows and the associate warm season grasses and perennials. One of the themes that came across when discussing these groups was that a meadow is a community, not separate individual plants living in one space. We all understand this concept when we see a meadow in nature, it blends all its separate parts to create a harmonious community. When designing one, this translates to creating a plant palette that fills every niche.

The niches, of course include above ground space (your tall plants, your running plants, medium bunching plants, etc.), but it also includes space below the surface, such as root depth and width, to make sure soil room is filled properly. There is also the niche of time. Not just for the blooming charts to ensure there is color, (although making sure everything isn’t blooming at the same time is important) but also time over years. The niches for plants that will show up quick to cover dirt should be filled as your longer-term plants become established.

Each of the niches of a meadow play an important role in creating a hardy landscape that can make the maintenance of a typical lawn look excessive. After an establishment period, assuming all niches have been properly filled, the maintenance of a meadow can be minuscule.

Larry Weaner and Associates, Salt Point NY

During the workshop more information about what to consider when selecting plants for the meadow community was discussed. Understanding how a plant seeds or spreads will help determine its best locations within a project and how it can quickly fill in. Being aware of a plant’s competitiveness will make it possible to select species that will work together and not completely crowd each other out. Additionally, one of the best precedents we can use is nature herself, to look for which plants coexist happily together, in specific environments.

Much more than meadows and the topics above were discussed during the workshop but meadows have been acknowledged for their durability, beauty, ecological benefits, low maintenance, and potential carbon sequestering skills that make them an extremely important community. As we continue to design, we should create landscapes that blend ecology into aesthetics and the human experience. Meadow systems (as a whole, not just their components) can play a huge role in creating spaces with layered benefits, and organizations such as NDAL are helping spread the word.


Ellen Biegert, RLA

Providence, RI

Horsley Witten Group

Help strengthen our profession! Nominate a friend, colleague, or yourself today. The strength of RIASLA comes from the dedicated efforts of our member volunteers. Join the team and make a difference.


Five Executive Committee positions are up for election this year, including two new positions: President-Elect, Member-at-Large (2), Sponsorship Chair, and Membership Chair. These positions will take office at the end of the ASLA Annual Meeting held in October 2018.

All positions are voting members of the RIASLA Executive Committee (“ExComm”) – the President-Elect position requiring a three year commitment (including one year as President-Elect, one year as President, one year as Immediate Past President), and the other positions serving one year.

All positions require attendance at monthly RIASLA ExComm meetings and include the duties outlined in detail below. The position of President-Elect requires travel to two annual meetings: Spring Chapter Presidents Council Meeting (typically held in Washington, DC) and Fall Chapter Presidents Council Meeting held just prior to, and at the location of, the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo. Certain expenses associated with these trips (travel, accommodations, some meals) are reimbursed in part by ASLA and in part by the chapter. Participation in the annual ASLA Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, as part of the Spring meeting, is also required.


RIASLA will accept Nominations (including self-nominations) for these positions until September 20, 2019. Candidate’s name, phone number, and preferred email should be emailed to by Friday, September 20, 2019.

In the nomination email, please include the position nominated for as well as the name and phone number of the nominee. Please also cc the nomination email to the person you are nominating. If you want to include a short paragraph about the nominee, you may, but it is not necessary.

A slate of up to two nominations per position will be presented to the RIASLA Executive Committee for approval, after which the slate will be presented to RIASLA Full and Associate Members for voting if there is more than one candidate for a position. If the vote of the membership results in a tie between two or more candidates, the election will be decided by a vote of the ExComm.


President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President

Typically, the President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President shall be a Full ASLA Member elected for a commitment of three (3) years: one as President Elect, one as President, and one as Past President.

As President-Elect, s/he is a voting member of the Executive Committee and involved in most leadership/chapter management decisions. The President-Elect also acts in the place of the President when asked or appointed by the Executive Committee. S/he prepares a slate of committee chairs and members to take effect when s/he becomes President. Preference is given to the current chairs.

As President, s/he presides over all chapter and Executive Committee meetings, represents the Chapter with other organizations, ASLA at the Chapter President Council Meetings, sets the chapter agenda with the consent of the Executive Committee, and is the primary point of contact for all ExComm members.

As Immediate Past President, s/he supports the new President in his/her duties, provides counsel, advice, and direction as needed. S/he assumes the role of President when asked by the President or the Executive Committee and attends the ASLA Spring and Fall Meetings on behalf of the Chapter with other chapter leaders.

The President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President must be a Full RIASLA member.


The Members-at-Large shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The Members-at-Large perform such duties as are customary for the position of at-large member or as may be assigned or delegated by the Executive Committee of the Chapter.

Sponsorship Chair

The Sponsorship Chair shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The Sponsorship Chair will be responsible for promoting events (i.e. Expos, awards dinners, lunch and learns, newsletter advertising) and/or sponsorship opportunities to raise non-dues revenue to support chapter programming. They will develop and maintain a contact list of prospective sponsors (such as product manufacturer or professional service representatives) to solicit for financial, material, and/or organizational support to the Chapter.

The Sponsorship Chair will also develop sponsorship levels and recognition benefits, and organize/direct the annual solicitation program and ensures that sponsors receive recognition benefits to which they are entitled.

Membership Chair

The Membership Chair shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The Membership Chair will welcome new members, welcome back returning members, and follow up with lapsed members. They will maintain prospect lists, used to invite non-members to Chapter functions and events for recruiting purposes.

They will also plan back to school events and graduating student events to recruit student members and convert graduating students to Associates, and ensure that the students understand that membership dues must be paid to national for them to be official members of the Society.

Additionally, they will grow the chapter by participating in quarterly Membership Chair conference call, which will be used as a forum to share ideas and successes in increasing chapter membership.


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