National President's Message 7 November 2016

Last week’s 2016 Festival of Landscape Architecture, “Not In My Backyard”, delivered a thought provoking and inspiring program of presentations, panels and provocations from artists, scientists, architects, philosophers, colleagues in practice and from academia. It was truly an invigorating two days! The Festival’s creative director, Richard Weller, focused the discussion on the newly declared era of the Anthropocene, presenting us with sobering statistics and charts and frightening future prospects. As keynote speaker Clive Hamilton reminded us: humans’ fate and Earth’s fate are intertwined. But Weller also proposed that the Anthropocene could, in fact, be the age of landscape architecture and challenged us to turn our collective attention to the central issues of this century: biodiversity, food production and climate change. By late Saturday afternoon when AILA’s next generation took the stage, we were feeling optimistic, ready to give our party horns another toot, and raise a glass of champagne to toast an extraordinary Festival.

In addition to the sessions that took place in Gandel Hall at the National Gallery, there were many other Festival-related events and activities taking place all around Canberra. These engaged the general public with landscape architecture, in one form or another, and spread the impact of the event far beyond the formal proceedings. The success of the Festival was due in large part to the organisational skill and hard work of Shahana McKenzie, Caroline Odgers, and the entirely splendid team from National office, ably assisted by the State Managers. Kudos and appreciation to you all!

It was exciting to meet as the newly constituted AILA National Board of Directors with the State Presidents to mark the Institute’s 50th anniversary, and an honour to take on the role of National President. It is heartening to be starting our term on such a high note and I am looking forward to collaborating with an outstanding team of fellow directors: Angus, Sara, Barbara and Shaun. I’d like to personally express my sincere appreciation to Daniel Bennett for his leadership of the previous National Council, and extend warm congratulations to him on being announced as a new Fellow at Saturday’s Fellows luncheon.

The Festival also provided an appropriate occasion to launch AILA’s new multi-media digital platform, Foreground. Replacing the quarterly magazine, Foreground will be a daily, curated, expansive and beautiful new digital platform for landscape architects and the profession in Australia. It has a dynamic editorial board with representatives drawn from within and outside the profession, and the look and shape of it all is fresh and exciting. AILA’s new media partner and winner of the AILA tender process, is Uro Publications (, headed up by Andrew Mackenzie and Mat Ward—both of whom were in the audience throughout the Festival last week. Our brief to Uro Publications is to build an online portal that will engage a diversity of audiences, featuring content that is aligned and significant to the profession of landscape architecture. Foreground’s editorial direction will deliberately situate landscape architecture within the fields of urban design, city planning, policy and the environment, generously embracing the city, its places and the people who make them. Over the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about opportunities to interact with and contribute to its content.

Now be sure to take a few minutes to scroll through the rest of the newsletter to check out the range of activities that went on throughout the Festival. Landscape architecture featured prominently in numerous guises all throughout Canberra, and it’s accurate to say that we made an impressive start on the next 50 years!

Linda Corkery

AILA National President

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

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