Leadership and Governance

2021 President-Elect Speech: Eugenia Martin, FASLA

“The only thing that is constant is change.” - Heraclitus

Back in January, I cited that quote in my concepts and aim statement because we, as an organization, are going through a lot of change. A full redevelopment of the website, a comprehensive membership campaign, the creation of the Conference on Landscape Architecture task force as well as a national CEO search are all underway. Since then, the world has gone through a lot of change; yet life continues to move forward.

The last few weeks, you’ve heard me use the word “mindful” when discussing change and where I see ASLA headed. To be mindful means to focus on the present, to notice and accept what is, then to adapt and grow. Being mindful also means recognizing each of us makes up ASLA; our members, non-members who we would like to recruit to become members, emerging professionals and students. We all play an integral role in the profession and in the society.

ASLA’s Mission Statement is “to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.” It is a simple statement, but quite powerful. It serves as a waymark as we navigate our everyday lives as an organization, but also as landscape architects. We need to be mindful of the cornerstones of the mission statement as ASLA embraces change, adapts and grows as an organization.

Mindful of Advocacy.
At the National level, ASLA has been successful advocating for legislation important to landscape architects including federal funding for programs used by landscape architect. We have developed relationships through the years which has resulted in requests from legislators to review bill language before introduction as well as an invitation to sit at “The Table”; just ask past-president Shawn Kelly how monumental that was! Building on that success, we now need to be more mindful in our advocacy efforts by being strategic and focusing on targeted meetings with legislators and committee members. We also need to be strategic in our focus at the local level. Awareness of the profession at the local and state level will have more of an impact at the national level as legislators can see the impacts landscape architects make on their “home turf.” While ASLA’s role in Advocacy at the state level continues to be the protection of licensure of the profession, we need think creatively in how we can support the protection of licensure. Recently, the Ohio Chapter successfully lobbied the Ohio Department of Transportation to include ASLA and PLA in the Construction and Materials Specifications Manual. Language was added recognizing Professional Landscape Architects as licensed practitioners who provide design services on ODOT projects and recognizing ASLA as the professional organization representing Landscape Architects in Ohio. This is a huge development not only for landscape architects practicing in Ohio, but also for many others whose state looks to Ohio’s manual for reference. This type of mindful advocacy provides additional support in the defense of licensure.

Mindful of Communication. 
Communication brings about awareness of the profession, helping to advance it with clients, policy makers, allied professionals and the general public. As we move forward with the redevelopment of the website, we need to be mindful of how and what is communicated by ASLA as it is incredibly important to the health and awareness of the profession. Along with the website, Landscape Architecture Magazine provides an opportunity to highlight the profession and diversity of practice, from private sector to public sector, as well as the breadth of the practice, from residential design to parks to campuses to shoreline restoration to regional masterplans. Communication consists of the sharing and receiving of information as well as listening to and hearing the needs and concerns of all our members.

Mindful of Education.
Education is integral to the growth of ASLA and the profession. ASLA’s role in education consists of extensive resources, from continuing education to business tools.  We need to be responsive to our members’ needs by adapting how we provide these tools and resources so landscape architects can lead in critical and emerging practice areas as well as increase awareness of the profession as a career option. The Conference on Landscape Architecture Task Force was created to start the dialogue for the future direction of the conference as well as incorporation of innovation in current conference program planning. Education mindfulness on what is important and why it is important is the foundation for enhancing the relevance of ASLA throughout all career stages and to the next generation of landscape architects

Mindful of Fellowship.
ASLA Fellowship provides opportunities to learn from each other, to celebrate successes, and to grow not only as a landscape architect, but as an individual.  Mindful fellowship and mentorship provide opportunities for emerging professionals to grow and become leaders. Many of you have heard me talk about Jot Carpenter, FASLA. Jot was my professor as well as a past president of ASLA. He is also one of the greatest influencers in my life as a landscape architect and as an advocate for the profession. His fellowship and mentorship throughout college and after graduation is what encouraged me to get involved with ASLA.  Jot lead by example, advocating to upgrade the Ohio landscape architects title act to a practice act up to the day he passed away.  One of his favorite sayings was “you have to get in the trenches if you are going to make a difference.” He showed me how being a member of ASLA provides a connection to other members which will continue throughout your career as a landscape architect.

Back in the early 2000’s, there was a TV show called LOST. Probably hands down one of my favorite TV series because of the complexity in each episode and how each character’s story intertwined. I’m sure you are wondering why I am referencing LOST and what exactly it has to do with ASLA but bear with me for a moment. The show lasted for six seasons and while there were several episodes that stuck with me, the two most notable ones were “The Constant” and “The End”.

In “The Constant,” one of the character’s consciousness randomly jumps from events happening in 2004 and events happening in 1996. He meets a younger version of another one of the characters who tells him he needs to find a “Constant”; someone or something important to him which exists in the past as well as in the present in order to reorient himself.

The final episode of the series, appropriately named “The End,” has a powerful scene in which the main character, Jack, has a conversation with his deceased father.  At one point, Jack asks his father “where are we?” His father explains: “This is the place that you all made together so that you could find one another.  The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you.”

Throughout my career, ASLA has served as my Constant. From the time I joined as a student member to now, I have been involved in ASLA in some manner, serving at the chapter level and then at the national level. The people I have gotten to know through ASLA have provided me a connection and support as I navigated my career and my volunteerism. Each ASLA event brings me great joy because being around all of you rejuvenates my soul and inspires me to do more, even if these events now happen in a different way. Because of ASLA, I have an amazing network of colleagues and friends I can reach out to at any time for any reason; nobody does it alone.

I am incredibly honored to be nominated and as President I will mindfully work with you and on behalf of our members to ensure ASLA embraces change, adapts and grows. ASLA is the Constant we have together. As Jack’s father said: “This is the place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people.”


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