President's Letter - May - On Coming Together as Team in an Hour of High Need



If anyone saw 60 minutes this past Sunday evening, you heard a story about the rebuilding of the Chicago Cubs and about the values that have made them great. The take-away was that the team that won last year's World Series was comprised of people of high character and ability who lifted each other up and rallied together as a team significantly when the going got tough. Those attributes sufficed to end the drought of a World Series win that had plagued Chicago Cubs fans for 108 years. No longer the underdogs, the Cubs are now recognized in a different light because of their caliber of character and team play. There is a lesson for all of us here.

I do believe that we as landscape architects are that underdog team that has slowly been practicing its way to greatness, much like the Cubs. Our biggest fans are those who value clean air, clean water, walkable neighborhoods, and quality public open spaces, including, among other things, public parks and squares, both large and small. If you don't believe that the going is getting tough for the things that our fans value, read no further, please. Instead, get a free subscription to today's headlines from the New York Times and come back here when you've caught up.


TEAM, we have got to be a more united front! Yes, we had a record turn-out for our 2017 Awards Gala and the Chapter is about to deliver on something that you, its members, have said repeatedly we should plan, which is our June 24 one-day conference of CEU offerings. But our dashboard on membership in our State chapter does not necessarily tell the story of a team united. Witness the chart herein, which we now review at every monthly Chapter meeting. Active membership in ASLA, and by association, in our local Chapter, is moving in the wrong direction.

Allow me to explain the chart. The orange band shows active members; the gray band shows recently lapsed members; and the gold band shows prospects, that is, landscape architects in Maryland whose memberships have lapsed for a long period of time or those that have never joined ASLA. Finally, the blue line is our goal, the 5% increase in membership that we set for ourselves this year. All of this data comes from the American Society of Landscape Architects in reports that it sends to the Chapter on a monthly basis.

Some may attribute the decline in the above chart to retirements. Perhaps that may explain some of the "gold" numbers, but it certainly does not explain them all. After all, 14% of Maryland's population is 65 and over. Our gold number of 272 prospects for April represents 44% of our total (active, lapsed and prospects) membership potential. Clearly, retirements do not explain why almost half of our combined population of prospects and members are not members. We need to drill down into this gold population, given its size and I'd welcome any advice about that.

Roughly 63% of the $85 you pay in dues to the chapter annually goes into direct services to promote the profession by way of fellowship, advocacy, communications and education, our long-stated mission. Your much-appreciated contribution to the Chapter's annual budget is supplemented greatly by sponsorship and other program revenues. At the end of the day, these other revenues mean that your $85 membership goes a long way. In fact, this year, the ratio of expenditures to promote the profession in Maryland to that portion of membership dues attributable to same is a little better than 2 to 1. In other words, for every 63 cents of the $1 that our 360 members have spent on membership to the Maryland ASLA chapter, they've gotten $2.89 worth of services for activities in support of our mission, a 22% return on investment.

Our World Series is now. The stakes are high, nothing less than the future of the quality of the environment in our State and country, if not the entire planet. We need to rally together as stewards of the land. No other profession bears this responsibility as uniquely as ours; and, I know that, across the country, and especially in Maryland, we are people of enormous character and ability. Don't let your membership lapse. If your membership has lapsed or you haven't joined for some reason, please do so now by clicking here. And if you have an issue with our Chapter or the national organization that is preventing you from joining or paying your dues this year, please let me know. There are many people relying on the caliber of our collective character and play. We have to come together as one and there is no better way of doing that than membership in ASLA.

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.


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