The American Society of Landscape Architects
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is a national professional organization representing 17,000 landscape architects. ASLA has 48 state and regional chapters; the Northern California Chapter (NCC) is one of four chapters that represent California. Founded in 1899, the mission of ASLA is to advocate, to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of cultural, natural and/or the built environments for human enjoyment. ASLA works to increase the public’s awareness of and appreciation for the profession of landscape architecture. ASLA is an active advocate for the profession at the local, state, and national levels on public policy issues, including licensure, livable communities, sustainable design, surface transportation, the environment, conservation issues, historic preservation, small business issues, and providing outdoor access that exceeds the requirements of the American with Disabilities
The early visionaries in the profession of landscape architecture noted that the designs of outdoor spaces are created for recreation, inspiration, and essential respite from the emerging urban environment. City parks and green spaces within the urban environment, along with private residential gardens, helps to improve physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities and make neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work. The profession enhances the outdoor environment for both private and public enjoyment. ASLA and its members are at the forefront of efforts to increase respect for the land and our natural environment, particularly on issues of prudent land use and planning, urban design, sustainable development, waste and water management including stormwater, resource preservation, recreation, and land reclamation.
The Northern California Chapter represents approximately 450 landscape architects at the local level. The purpose of ASLA is to advance the profession of Landscape Architecture in the eyes of the general public. The Chapter is the main advocacy body to advances the profession on the local level by holding events, meetings, outings and providing information regarding the profession to the local media and schools. The Chapter may also interface with municipal governments regarding local issues that could impact the profession, or the public realm.
What Does ASLA Do For Me?
ASLA’s mission is is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. It is a professional peer association that operates on two levels—national and local. As such, your exposure to resources, and the benefits you can take advantage of by being a member, is essentially doubled. You can tap into the vast source of information and assistance of the National organization which is available to you mainly, but not solely, through the ASLA website. You can also find professional information and expertise relevant to you regionally through events, announcements, and most importantly, through personal connections at your local Chapter.
The most important role ASLA takes on for you as a landscape architect or designer, is legal advocacy for the profession on the federal (National) and state (local Chapter) levels. ASLA is doing a lot of work behind the scenes, whether you know it or not, that directly affects you and your livelihood. Without ASLA’s persistent, timely and unwavering effort, landscape architecture as we know and practice it, would not be able to stand up to recurring state sunset laws and federal restrictions.
At the end of last year, thanks to a massive ASLA campaign, the Senate rejected amendments to gut the Transportation Enhancements bill; in May congress introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act; and in 2010, ASLA achieved licensure in all 50 states for the first time in the history of the profession.
It is unfortunate, but we, landscape architecture professionals, constantly need to defend our passion and our means of making a living. It is most effectively done in an organized way, and ASLA is the perfect forum for us. By being an ASLA member you support this effort. By being a member you also have a chance to participate in this effort actively…..it is not an obligation, it is a great opportunity.
The second most important endeavor ASLA carries out for you is public awareness of Landscape Architecture. Aren’t you tired of being called a Landscaper? Does it not aggravate you when an architect asks you to put some “growies” around the building? Don’t you feel awkward when, upon learning your line of work, your neighbor’s friend asks if you would clip their hedge? Apparently, as professionals, we have not been doing enough to tell the world what we do, what we are capable of doing. We have not explained clearly enough the breadth of expertise our work encompasses. As professionals, we have not established our credentials strongly enough, or began to outline the important role we play in people’s public and private lives. ASLA is currently orchestrating a massive grassroots public awareness campaign, that is giving the profession more visibility and recognition. ASLA is the vehicle to set our status right; you are the fuel.