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President-Elect Candidate Forum Question 2 - Pam Linn, FASLA

We are living in a very polarized time in the world where bright lines are being drawn across a number of areas in our society. How can landscape architects and the work they do help heal or bridge those divides?

Pam Linn, FASLA

Landscape architects are leaders, problem solvers and consensus builders. Our work heals societal divides and brings important, meaningful contributions to our communities, and the profession has a strong legacy of environmental justice. More than a century ago, Frederick Law Olmsted saw promise in parks as a way to facilitate social reform. Olmsted believed strongly in equity and environmental justice, though his critics called these ideas radical. Today we need to embody these forward-thinking ideals, use our expertise as landscape architects to leverage design that can directly address our social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Heal with Nature. Connection with nature is essential for humans’ social, psychological, and emotional health. However, on our rapidly urbanizing planet, development often divides people and nature. Landscape architects are well positioned to respond to planning issues with productive solutions that engage people with nature, expand access to nature across communities, and connect cities with nature and their ecosystems.

Combat Climate Change. Irrefutable evidence establishes that the climate is already changing. Therefore, finding solutions to the climate crisis and planning for a resilient future is critical. Landscape architects have the tools and talent to further protect communities from the impacts of climate change and reduce the disproportionate suffering felt by vulnerable communities.

Connect Communities. Landscape architects can bring communities together by creating thoughtful, vibrant public spaces that foster authentic engagement and help bridge divides in our communities.

Prioritize Equity. Years of systematic disinvestment, environmental injustices, racial and economic exclusion have divided communities. Landscape architects can help guide investment in much needed public infrastructure through our leadership in developing prioritization models for public infrastructure projects to address these inequities.

Lead with the Lens of a Landscape Architect. Our leadership in the profession should help guide community leadership across all levels of governance. We are trained to think holistically and plan for the long term, to work with groups of diverse individuals with competing interests, to build consensus, and to turn dreams into reality. Landscape architects’ perspective must become a valuable source of guidance for elected officials, policy makers, boards, and community decision-makers.

Look to the Future
Designing for the public good, and using design for social reform has been a part of our profession since the beginning; we must embrace this legacy and adopt Frederick Law Olmsted’s ideals for our future. Landscape Architects must be publicly recognized as design leaders who can address social, economic, and environmental challenges. ASLA can position landscape architects for this leadership by amplifying the profession and making our work visible. ASLA can help create opportunities for members to gain a seat at the table locally and globally and become leaders of movements, drivers of progress. With this visibility we can engage in design through activism working for a meaningful global change.

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