AIA Grassroots 2012- Washington, DC
AIA Grassroots 2012-
As the North Carolina Eastern Section representative this year, I attended the 2012 Grassroots Conference in
On a personal level, my day to day work is often insular and without opportunity to reach out to other design professionals and discuss the issues of the day. Sometimes I feel it’s in our DNA as architects to be behind the drafting table (nowdays computer) for hours at a time to simply keep up with the work at hand. The time and effort to complete our work is not typically understood by non-architects. As such this tends to be an isolating profession. Grassroots changed my understanding of architecture from being a personal endeavor to that of a larger movement. Although I have worked in some larger architectural firms, it was still a bit humbling (and disorienting) to have hundreds of architects in the same room. To see the ballroom full and know that everybody in the room was an architect took some getting used to. That said, grassroots is a communal activity and I quickly made new relationships and learned about professional issues that broadened my horizons. In addition, I was able to catch up with former friends and mentors that I had lost touch with over the years. This was one of the best things about Grassroots for myself and others. Reconnection seemed a common experience for all involved in Grassroots.
On a national level, the AIA is heavily involved in reaching out to the lawmakers and power brokers to advance the cause of architecture and the value of good design. We went to Capitol Hill to speak to our local representatives in the senate and the house to lobby for our profession. In my meetings, I found it interesting to learn that the practice of architecture is a bit of a mystery to many people. That said, once practical examples of design in their community were elucidated, the support was strong. We are lucky to be in a profession that is not partisan and the AIA has done a fantastic job of being a moderating force that speaks to our issues. The value of bipartisanship is that our voice carries more weight since it is not shaded by preconceived assumptions.
The mood among our peers seems to be improving as the economy begins a slow rebound. While still slow, positivity abounds albeit tempered by the collective scars of this past recession. The hiring of young architects is increasing and the AIA national has made significant efforts to reach out to young professionals in order to keep them practicing architecture. The leadership genuinely wants to infuse the organization with new blood as our profession ages. In the long run this will keep us all stronger and groom the next generation of architects. This new positive spirit at Grassroots 2012 left me feeling better about where we are as a profession and where we will be in the coming years.
Christopher Nason, AIA, LEED AP