National Presidents Message - 9 November 2015

Friends and colleagues,

As landscape architect and head of the new School of Architecture and Built Environment, Sueanne Ware, said recently in the Newcastle Herald: ‘The public is not a cohesive, single-minded entity; it is a diverse, often contradictory body of communities and disparate groups of individuals, so in the provision of public buildings and public space, why do we insist on the similar processes of engagement and procurement regardless of diverse and complex contexts?’

This is a great question: one that resonates with me in my daily practice. We can be bland and follow, or we can go beyond bland…as Sueanne says, ‘…recent attempts at ‘‘place-making’’ and capturing identity tend to ameliorate conflict and try and make all sorts of conflicting viewpoints into a rather bland set of principles, devoid of any real connection to specificity.’

So I implore you: stand up and be bold, back yourself, and be confident. Arm yourself with what landscape architects do best: gather, analyse, think, draw, propose, debate, resolve and deliver. This approach ensures a data, fact and evidence based approach to problems and opportunities, leading to better outcomes that avoid the blandness (or perhaps ‘blahness’?) of the typical. Go forth and conquer…

I mentioned in my first newsletter that cities and regions are now firmly back on the national agenda. Our CEO Shahana McKenzie has already met with the new Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs MP, who has just returned from a visit to Portland, Oregon in the United States. With the Minister for Cities sitting within the Environment portfolio the time is right to put green infrastructure on the agenda. We are confident that AILA can assist in developing a national policy on green infrastructure as well as continuing to provide key advice and direction in this space.

On this basis I’m very excited to announce that AILA will be hosting a Living Cities Summit to be held at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 15 March 2016. The Living Cities Summit aims to raise awareness, on a national scale, of the benefits of living cities through the principles of green infrastructure.

Working across industries and bringing all levels of government together with the private sector and non-profit associations, we will identify new policy settings, mechanisms, and measurable opportunities to advance projects, add value and realise the benefits of incorporating green infrastructure. It will also allow discussions on furthering research and growth opportunities for Australia.

Thought leaders from across the spectrum will be invited to act as ambassadors within their respective fields to represent and engage with living cities. This is a very exciting initiative, advocating for the benefits of using and engaging with landscape architects. Look out for more on this important advocacy initiative in the near future.

For AILA to continue growing its voice in representing the profession we need to grow the membership and the number of registered landscape architects. Registration is a critical part of being a well-rounded, respected and recognised landscape architect and next week applications open for new member registrations. If you have been thinking about becoming a Registered Landscape Architect or have thought about tapping one of your colleagues on the shoulder and say ‘It’s time….’, click here. If in doubt, please contact the national office.

Our collaboration with 202020 Vision for the My Park Rules initiative is gaining an amazing amount of media interest and has had over ten thousand hits to the website since it went live. A reminder that entries close for this fantastic community competition on 29 November, so go to www.myparkrules.com.au and ensure your local schools are aware of it. This is a great opportunity!

On the small-but-nice-to-see-front, you may notice we now have a live newsfeed on our home page, for all the latest news from across the world. Let us know what you think.

Finally, I encourage you all to continue to converse, debate, discuss and socialise over the issues and opportunities facing our communities, and the profession, as we strive towards broadening our influence and positive impacts. It is very clear to me that the opportunities for our services have never been greater.

Daniel Bennett AILA

National President

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

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