Member Survey Analysis
by Mary Bedard, ASLA, with Martin Flores, ASLA and Mark O’Rourke, ASLA

When I attended the Landscape/Land Use Planning (LALUP) Professional Practice Network (PPN) meeting for the first time at the ASLA annual meeting in San Francisco in October 2007, I was surprised to learn that this is one of the largest of all of the PPNs. After seeing the standing room only participation in my other PPN, the small number of people in the LALUP room was puzzling. Many of those in the room were there like me, curious about how others in landscape architecture apply their knowledge to the broad area of planning. When I learned that the LALUP PPN had requested that its members complete an online survey last year (2007), but that no one was working on extracting the data, I offered to help. As a newcomer to the group, perhaps I could offer some objectivity to the analysis.

The purpose of the survey was to learn who our members are, what issues are most important to them in their work, and how ASLA can best support them in the profession. After the San Francisco meeting, the three newly-volunteered co-chairs of the LALUP PPN divided the data results from the survey and analyzed their individual portions, eventually combining them into this document. We hope you will find the data interesting and useful, and that this information will result in more active participation in the group.

Our Interests and Issues

Question 1. What do you think are the top 3 most important issues in Landscape/Land Use Planning
today?


For this open-ended question, nearly half of the responses (45.5%) cited concerns that pertained to planning with sustainability in mind. The top responses included green design, the LEED process, low impact development (LID), and the effects of climate change. This was followed by similar sustainability goals—smart growth and growth management, watershed management and storm water/water quality, natural resource conservation (including energy) and environmental protection in its various forms, and
mixed use and New Urbanism models of addressing density and its impacts. The next segment of responses concerning issues of greatest importance to the profession cited politics and policies (5%). The segment following this noted public and client education and outreach (4%). The next few segments addressed transportation and regional connectivity, development pressures vs. open
space, and rural and small town planning (each about 3%).

The remaining issues cited by respondents fell into the general categories of sustainability, policies and politics, education and outreach, and economic issues.

Finally, about 12% of the surveys provided no data on this question.

Question 2. What are the most important issues in your own practice?
|
When it comes to individual practice, it’s more about education—teaching clients, the public, and new LA graduates about green, sustainable, smart growth, and LID concepts. 13% of the respondents cited education, while 10% mentioned outdated, confusing codes and ordinances, and untrained governmental personnel, which could also be a problem regarding education. The third highest issue was the slow economy and problems securing contracts, competing with public low bid practices, and ‘Big Box’
office construction. It isn’t until the next level of responses that open space preservation and green infrastructure and stormwater issues were mentioned (7-8%). Issues cited beyond this level were more difficult to group together, but reflected more of the concerns with education and economics.

What conclusions can be drawn from these results? It appears that although a large share of the practitioners in the LA/LUP PPN feel that sustainability and “green” issues are very important, these issues can’t be realized without more public education and appropriate code and policy implementation.

How Well Does ASLA Address the Interests of Planners?

Question 3. Planners are a subset of ASLA membership. How well do you think ASLA addresses the
interests of planners?


Responses to this question varied greatly, ranging from “great” to “abysmally.” Since respondents were presented with an open-ended question rather than a scale from which to choose, characterizing responses was not always easy. However, approximately 42 percent of all responses fell into the broad category of “not so well/poorly/very poorly,” compared to the approximately 30 percent of responses that could be categorized as “fairly well/well/very well.” Clearly, many members who are planners feel
that ASLA is not addressing their professional interests as well as it could. As with other questions in the survey, a fairly high percentage of respondents did not answer the question or said they didn’t know.

Member survey chart

Question 4. Do you have any suggestions for how ASLA might serve the interests of this particular
community? AND Question 5. What kind of opportunities and/or resources could this PPN provide to you that would help you in your practice?


In analyzing these questions, the data were combined because of similarities in the answers. The answers were grouped into five categories: Continuing Education and Research, Communication, Visibility Within ASLA, Networking Within ASLA and With Other Professional Organizations, and Outside Promotion. The questions are analyzed in each of these categories.

Continuing Education and Research 

The Continuing Education and Research category garnered the greatest number of responses regarding what this PPN can do for members and which resources it could provide. We believe that much of the continuing education and research could be offered at the annual meeting and at chapter level meetings.

Networking within ASLA and With Other Professional Organizations 

Other priorities included networking with ASLA and liaising and working together with APA, ULI, ASCE, etc. 

Liaise/work with APA, ULI, ASCE, etc.

15

 

State or Regional Subcommittee Meetings

  4

 

Networking

  8

 

 

27

Communication

Communication with the PPN generally, and about planning in ASLA in particular, are needs we hope we are beginning to address. This relates closely to the following category of Visibility within ASLA.

Communication

 

20

 

Visibility within ASLA

A significant number of members requested more planning-related articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine and more planning sessions at the annual meeting.

Annual Meeting

 

 8

 

LA Magazine

 

14

 

 

22


Outside Promotion

Promoting landscape architects in planning does not seem to be a great concern. And, it was not clear whether the need was to promote the profession of landscape architecture to planners or to promote the idea that many landscape architects practice planning.

Promote LAs in Planning

 

5

 



The authors welcome your comments and questions. We can be reached via the e-community forum or by email individually.

Mary Bedard, ASLA, is a landscape architect and community development specialist who can be reached at: mbedard@teleport.com 

Mark O’Rourke, ASLA is a landscape architect and landscape planner, and is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He can be reached at: morourke@larp.umass.edu

Martin Flores, ASLA, is Director of Urban Design and Planning at Rick Engineering and can be reached at: mflores@rickengineering.com

 
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Stan Clauson, ASLA, Chair
(970) 925-2323
stan@scaplanning.com