For the last few years, I have had the pleasure of working for NY ASLA members as our chapter’s Trustee on the National Board. I meet with the other trustees from around the country and the Executive committee twice a year – once at the annual meeting in the fall, and once at the mid year meeting every spring.
It’s my job to raise issues of import to our region at these meetings so that others from around the country and ASLA staff can hear what matters to us, and possibly help us find solutions. Here are just a few examples: I worked hard with a small coalition of other trustees to craft arguments to support linking licensure and membership; I enlisted the help of our professional practice group to see if they could help us with the prickly issue of how the intellectual property of landscape architects is not being respected, especially by many of our public clients; and with the help of our colleagues in the Advocacy and Government Affairs group at national, I was able to rally our members to contact their council members last summer and fall about the upcoming changes to the NYC Building Code that codified the definition of landscape architects and what we do.
We don’t always find solutions right away, and sometimes the will of the majority outweighs the will of the minority (which is where I often find myself), but measured, steady improvements are being made in the way our society and the board of trustees is run. Over the course of the last year or so, I have served on a task force that is looking at the way the Board of Trustees operates and how we can improve not only our meetings, but also how we engage new ASLA members. We need to encourage them to become active in the issues that are critical to the continued success of our profession. I also serve on the Membership Services Committee, to work at creating, maintaining and improving the value of the services ASLA provides its members.
As a member of the local Chapter Executive Committee, I also help with local projects. I enjoy working for our members to help raise awareness in the public’s eye about our profession. I can report on one small but important step on that front: On Monday, December 30, 2013 former mayor Bloomberg signed Intro 1056-A into law as Local Law 141 of 2013. This was the bill that we had been working on with the Department of Buildings to improve the process by which projects are filed with the DOB. This law is an update to the Building code that now includes a definition of our profession. It does not yet allow us to sign forms the same way that engineers and architects can, but it is an important beginning. The new law becomes effective on October 1, 2014, so soon thereafter, we will begin again to work with our friends at the DOB to revise their procedures to allow landscape architects to submit their own work without having to hire architects or engineers to do it for them. I want to give credit to the hard working task force who took time out of their business day to meet with DOB officials and to testify before the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings. We’ll be gearing up again soon, so stay tuned!
Finally, I want you to know that I raise my voice at the national meetings for you. And I have been very successful at upholding the reputation that New Yorkers have for being outspoken! It’s because we care and because we are passionate about what we do. So please, if you have issues that you think could be helped by an airing at a national meeting, tell me. Send me a message or give me a call, and I’ll be sure to voice your concerns. The meeting is coming up in May, so send me your ideas as soon as you can. And if you have any questions about what’s going on with the society at a national level, please ask. If I don’t have the answer right away, I’ll be sure to get it for you.
Trustee, New York Chapter ASLA