Presidents Letter April 2020
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.
RIASLA Chapter President