Racial Equity Plan of Action

Our Work Continues: A Message from Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO

Each day this February, as part of Black History Month, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) highlighted a Black landscape architect or a project designed by a Black landscape architect as part of our Design Excellence by Black Landscape Architects social media campaign. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and many people mentioned how much they learned about the history of our profession and the excellent work being led by Black landscape architects.

The campaign followed reVISION ASLA 2020, where, for the first time, we took a deep dive into issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Sessions and marquee discussions examined diversity in the landscape architecture profession and the role landscape architects play in addressing issues of environmental justice and equitable access. During my opening comments for reVISION ASLA 2020, I mentioned that we are at an inflection point in the history of the profession, the nation, and the world. I spoke about this being both a time of great uncertainly and also a transformative moment for all of us together to take an unblinking look at the myriad ways that racism has poisoned our communities and limited our prosperity as a nation. These issues are not unique to landscape architecture or landscape architects. But the solutions for our professional community must come directly from us. Our Black History Month awareness campaign and reVISION ASLA 2020 are just two of the most recent examples of ASLA’s commitment to moving the profession towards a more just and inclusive community. And that work must continue with a rigor that is new and refreshing for many and perhaps curious to some.

In the summer of 2020, in eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the murder of George Floyd brought ASLA and the world to a full stop, reminding us all that the road to a more just and fair society is long and winding. Even today, each time Mr. Floyd’s name is mentioned, I’m reminded of the video of his death. I can hear his blood curdling cries for his mother and weeping during the last minutes of his life ringing in my ears. I see his face being pressed against the ground with a knee on his neck, squeezing the last breaths from his body. Let us not forget this image. Instead, let’s use that memory to inspire us to eradicate the systems and structures within our professional community that have resulted in limited opportunities, limited chances for advancement, and limited recognition of the deserving Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) landscape architects and professionals who have led and produced important, ground-breaking, and honorable work.

The landscape architecture profession and global design community needs ASLA’s leadership now more than ever, and I am firmly committed to position us to meet the moment. It is far easier to speak about change than it is to see it through. Purely symbolic rhetoric without deliberate and concrete actions leads to sub-optimal outcomes. Our team of talented professionals and volunteer leaders commit to rolling up our sleeves and leaning into the  truth, pushing forward toward progress to do the necessary work. We will follow the leadership examples of Bayard Rustin, an openly gay, African-American civil rights activist, adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the main organizer of the March on Washington in 1963; the leadership examples of Ella Baker, an African-American civil rights activist who was known for her influential efforts as a community organizer; and the leadership examples of many others who were on the front lines of change many years ago. ASLA is in the business of changing the world through the art and science of design and this Five-Point Plan of Action is the next progression of our journey together. We still have a dream…that dream is clearer than ever, and the time to design the future of our profession is now.

"The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it."
    - Amanda Gorman

ASLA’s Racial Equity Plan of Action

ASLA rejects bigotry and racism in all its forms, and anti-Black racism in particular, as wrong and fundamentally inconsistent with our mission and values.

ASLA's Five-point Plan:

1) Diversifying the Pipeline: Equipping Our Students and Institutions to Lead in This Work  
2) Acknowledging Racism in the Profession and Honoring the Forgotten: Making It Clear Where We Stand and Where We Aim to Go

3) Reshaping the Conversation and Transforming Frameworks: Establishing Enduring Structures for the Journey Ahead

4) Leading Through Education, Conversation, and Policy: Developing and Disseminating Content on Advancing Racial Equity

5) Accountability: Maintaining Meaningful, Measurable Progress 

Equipping Our Students and Institutions to Lead in This Work
ASLA will develop outreach guidelines and measurable metrics to help organizations recruit and retain Black students into landscape architecture programs and develop those students into successful professionals in landscape architecture. ASLA will provide ongoing financial, intellectual, and in-kind support to Historically Black University and College (HBCU) landscape architecture programs and work to recruit and provide ongoing support for Black landscape architecture students. ASLA will identify and engage high schools and community colleges with high concentrations of Black students to encourage joining the landscape architecture profession. Emphasis will be on schools with design-oriented curricula.

ASLA’s effort to strengthen the pipeline with diverse students begins with the youngest students. Our PreK–12 partnerships and collaborations will expand to groups that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and also focus on diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Our efforts to build strong community relationships, develop quality PreK–12 outreach, and partner with educator and advising professionals are intentionally focused on the support and advancement of all students with an emphasis on BIPOC communities. As an association, we are dedicated to modeling effective engagement strategies that can be adopted and measured by ASLA chapters across the country.

Making It Clear Where We Stand and Where We Aim to Go
ASLA will work to increase the profession’s understanding of the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion. We will make significant contributions to achieving a more equitable and inclusive world by increasing awareness of the Black landscape narrative and amplifying the current and historic voices and experiences of Black practitioners and design organizations. We will also work with firms to provide guidance on dismantling bias and colorism within organizational systems and within structures that limit growth opportunities for Black landscape architects and other colleagues of color. This will require intentional and targeted education and engagement, funding, new policies, and operational practices. The cultural shift will begin in education, where we will train and equip the next generation of landscape architects with these skills to design solutions and landscapes with racial equity and justice as foundational components of their work.

Establishing Enduring Structures for the Journey Ahead
ASLA will collaborate with sister, allied, and other organizations to develop an action plan that addresses racial inequality in the landscape architecture community, compiles accurate data on the impact of Blacks and other people of color in landscape architecture, and raises awareness of Black historic landscapes and pioneering Black landscape architects. Our combined efforts will help us achieve justice, equity, and inclusion in the profession more effectively.

We will work with ASLA Chapters to identify and recruit Black practitioners for chapter volunteer and leadership positions. ASLA will also continue to recognize and honor Black landscape architects and projects for their contributions to the profession and to society as a whole, reaching out to encourage more submissions of Black candidates for ASLA Honors and Awards.

Developing and Disseminating Content on Advancing Racial Equity

We believe that policy makers at all levels of government can and should seek to eradicate the inequities that harm underserved communities, including communities of color, low-income populations, and Tribal and Indigenous communities across the country. ASLA will continue to work with the current administration to eliminate the disproportionate impacts that plague these communities and to advance regulations that promote a just society for all.

ASLA will work to ensure that the Conference on Landscape Architecture and other meetings include programming to address and combat racial inequity in the profession. We will increase representation of BIPOC experts on panels, educational sessions, workshops, and other ASLA and industry forums, and we will highlight BIPOC experts as keynote and general session speakers. We will develop design guidelines and techniques that help dismantle racial and environmental injustice. We will also begin to develop tools to assist practitioners in working with Black and other minority communities, and publish reports and case studies on projects that successfully worked with these communities to achieve shared community goals.

Maintaining Meaningful, Measurable Progress
These aren’t easy or comfortable conversations to have, and we recognize that driving this kind of transformation will take time. We are committed to integrating this work into the fabric of our organization and our profession.  As a part of this commitment, ASLA is updating its Vision and Strategic Plan, incorporating goals and metrics that will be established and measured in our annual operating plans. This will help ensure we are making progress in addressing these issues and making appropriate adjustments to our tactics to deliver on our promise to have an impact on and lead change in our profession, the design community, and in the world.


ASLA General Inquiries:

ASLA Center Event
Space Inquiries: 
Janet W. Davis 

PR Inquiries:

Diversity, Equity,
and Inclusion
Lisa Jennings
Senior Manager, Career Discovery
and Diversity

Donations to the ASLA Fund: