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©2020 by Maryland Chapter - American Society of Landscape Architects

President's Letter - April - "How and Why We Survive as an Association … Because We Need On



Over the course of my term as president, I've tried to immerse myself in a few books about how association work is done and to translate those lessons into the work of our chapter. One of those books, "The End of Membership as We Know It," notes that over the course of a history dating to the year 1600, associations of people with shared values and interests have survived "because people needed one another." The book argues that demographic shifts are a huge threat to this long-held theory of association coherence because most associations are governed by baby boomers. According to BoardSource's Nonprofit Governance Index, "only two percent of board members are under 30 years old."**

It is true that I am a baby boomer. But our trend as a chapter seems to be one where the majority of the leadership is younger. The truth is that I'm at least as old or older than the parents of a majority of our current board members, (saving, of course, a few I will call out, like Dennis Nola and Brian Vavrina). So the demographic shift that the book describes is not our issue. This is a great advantage for us.

It means that we have a wealth of expertise to devote to things like curating and posting a plethora of terrific images about landscape architecture projects in Maryland on the national ASLA Instagram Page on April 3 in celebration of World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM). If you have an Instagram account, you can view the images here. Below is one among over 112 images submitted by MD ASLA Chapter members in support of our effort to take over the national ASLA Instagram account on April 3. Thanks are owed to our Om Khurjekar (Horde Coplan Macht) and Jennifer Saunier (Mahan Rykiel) for helping to organize this effort.


The advantage we hold in having younger leadership is a "good-to-great" moment on which we need to capitalize. I would argue that our coming together at events like our upcoming Awards Gala on April 19 and our Annual Meeting on June 24 are opportunities for strengthening bonds across generations and to appreciate that the futures of the younger members of the profession today are tied, inextricably, to the contributions of those that have preceded them. We all stand on the shoulders of those that come before us and we would do well to learn from their work.

That's why I'm hoping you will register today for the April 19 awards gala at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, where we will recognize David Locke, Stan Skalka and J.L. Fisher with Awards of Excellence for their outstanding contributions to the profession, in addition to paying tribute to 14 projects that our awards jury felt demonstrated a superior quality of design and execution across these categories: (1) General Design, (2) Residential Design, (3) Design (Unbuilt), (4) Communications, (5) Analysis & Planning; (6) Research. For several years, we've made a great effort to keep ticket prices low in the interest of making the event accessible to members and guests. Please register TODAY!

Finally, along the same theme of drawing on the expertise and experience of those who have come before us and have excelled as leaders in the chapter and the profession, I have discussed with the board, and hope to be able to announce at the Awards Gala, the formation of the Chapter Leaders Council. The group would consist of former chapter presidents, other former board members who desire to be involved, and ASLA fellows from Maryland whose role would be one of providing advice to the Chapter Executive Committee from time to time about matters that are central to our mission of promoting the profession of landscape architecture in Maryland through fellowship, advocacy, communication and education. We need each other and the Chapter Executive Committee would definitely benefit from the advice of those who previously sat in the chairs that we now occupy.

Thank you for your continued support. As always, if there is something that the chapter or I can do to assist you, I hope you will reach out to me at barbara@neighborspacebaltimorecounty.org or at 443-377-3760.