Updates from ASLA


Views: Michigan and South Carolina

Trevor Bosworth, ASLA, SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA, and Torey Carter-Conneen at Viridis Design Group Photo Credit: Daniel Martin, Honorary ASLA

Recently, I toured product manufacturers in Michigan, visited ASLA President SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA, at Viridis Design Group, and had a great time at the South Carolina chapter conference–ResilienSEA.

One of our primary jobs as a professional association is to create the spaces where business thrives and where engagement between businesses drives innovation. In a membership survey last year, we heard loud and clear that LAs want more sustainable products and packaging. Part of my ongoing travels will include visits to industry partners and product manufactures to help facilitate continued collaboration among the professions.

At Landscape Forms, I met with CEO Margie Simmons and Landscape Forms Sustainability Leader Amy Syverson-Shaffer, ASLA, who showed me the ways they have taken action to develop sustainable products. They have incorporated recycled material into their products, recycled 87% of waste like metal, plastic and wood, and identified local sources within 50 miles for 67% of their material needs.

And for a bit of fun I tried my hand at welding.

Torey weldingTorey Carter-Conneen at Landscape Forms 2024 Photo Credit: Daniel Martin, Honorary ASLA

Similarly at Spring Meadow Nursery, they have implemented creative solutions that are better for the environment but also cost saving. As an operating practice their greenhouses are constructed to conserve heat and are fully vented to assist with cooling. In support of biodiversity, they don’t use neonicotinoid pesticides, which are harmful to pollinators. Furthermore, they use natural enemies and non-toxic strategies like banker plants and sticky tape to manage pests.

Permaloc leadership is very focused on engaging with landscape architects as partners. They host lunch and learns with CEU credits and are continually engaged in ASLA’s conference, LABash, and chapter events. As a business dedicated to sustainability, their LEED certified products are built to last the lifetime of the project and are 100% recyclable, as is their packaging.

In your projects, what barriers do you confront as you work to include sustainable products and what solutions do you see? Send me a note and we can keep working on this together.

On a tour through Viridis Design Group with SuLin, I learned about transformative projects in Grand Rapids like the Grand River Corridor, a 7.5 mile stretch of the river at the heart of the city’s past and future. It was great to meet the team at Viridis and spend more time with SuLin–I look forward to working with her throughout this year to build on our strategic initiatives.

While I was on the road I joined John King, Hon. ASLA, Kate Orff, FASLA, and Thomas Woltz, FASLA, for a Conversations with Olmsted webinar in which we discussed the future of the profession and ways landscape architects will continue to lead communities toward creative resiliency strategies. I shared an early look at some of the research we’ll release later this month from our research grant project identifying the best landscape architecture strategies to mitigate heat and support biodiversity.

We also hosted a virtual town hall with the Board of Trustees where we discussed our vision for ASLA and landscape architecture as a profession. We hold these gatherings roughly quarterly, and in this discussion we spent time talking about engaging with firms in the middle of the country and identifying more ways to support firms as small businesses.

At the South Carolina chapter conference, President-Elect Jamie Hairfield, ASLA, and I led a discussion called The State of the Chapter. We discussed the ongoing challenges around licensure and the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships with elected officials to protect against uninformed attacks. We also shared the pillars of the current strategic plan, successes we have accomplished together to date, and the work underway to develop our next plan. Interestingly 20-30% of the attendees at the conference are not currently ASLA members, so there is not only opportunity to continue engaging this group but also a reflection of the great relationships that the South Carolina Chapter maintains regardless of ASLA membership status.

In April, I’ll be at the Tennessee Chapter Conference and the D7 Retreat in Kansas—I hope to see you there!

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