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Diversity + Career Discovery: Chapters are Shaping the Future

NJASLA.DI.Summit Image Credit: NJASLA DI Committee

ASLA chapters are shaping the future of the profession two-fold by introducing the landscape architecture profession to students from underrepresented minorities. Both the Michigan and New Jersey chapter’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committees have launched programs to address the need to expand the diversity of the profession and to spark interest in landscape architecture as a career in young minds.

The MIASLA DEI committee led the development of a summer camp targeting sophomores, juniors and seniors from majority-minority high-schools. The committee used their connections to form a coalition with Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Southfield, MI, allied professionals and artist Dr. Hubert Massey to develop the camp curriculum. For a second year, the camp will be hosted at LTU. A concerted effort was made to recruit a diverse group of professional volunteers to serve as “camp counselors” so that the students can see themselves reflected in the profession.

The week-long "Placemaking Through Landscape Design" camp (July 17-21, 2023) provides an introduction to landscape architecture through interactive lectures, site tours and design development by creating photo inspiration boards, sketching and model making activities). The camp concludes with presentations and a jury critique. New for summer 2023 is the opportunity for campers to stay overnight during the summer camp in the LTU dorms. Camp scholarships are available through LTU and the MI chapter foundation.

Campers not only learn about the design process, but also develop presentation skills. The camp is supported through in-kind services provided by volunteers and LTU (space, materials, transportation and meals), as well as funding through the chapter and a Southfield City Center Business District grant.

For more information about the MIASLA chapter’s summer camp or DEI committee, contact Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Stephanie Onwenu, ASLA.

Each year the NJASLA Diversity Initiative (DI) Committee hosts a DI session at the chapter’s annual conference; this year the committee hosted a design charrette with high school students from the Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT). The charrette was a collaboration with ACIT, Atlantic City Office of Planning and Development, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlantic City’s Shade Tree Committee, and other community partners.

The DI session showcased the work of ACIT students and their efforts to redesign Fisherman’s Park in Atlantic City. The students, under the leadership ACIT instructors, including a trained landscape architect, conducted site analysis, developed conceptual designs and models for the park during the academic year; they also met with project stakeholders who presented their work to the Atlantic City Council.

At the NJASLA DI session, ACIT students presented their models and provided insights into the cultural connections to their proposed park features. During the charrette portion, students joined with NJASLA members to role play as park stakeholders; students changed their perspective by stepping into someone else’s shoes to consider needs and goals for a variety of potential park-users.

For more information about the NJASLA Diversity Initiative, contact Jennifer Souder, ASLA.

Expand your connections and share your passion; contact your chapter to inquire about volunteer opportunities where you can make a difference in your community and in the profession.

Thank you to the MIASLA DEI committee and NJASLA DI Committee for sharing their successes and images.

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