July brings Independence Day which brings thoughts of patriotism, fighting for what is right in the world, and what it means to be a citizen of this country. As architects, engineers, and construction industry professionals, we see daily the impact of our work on communities in Maryland, the United States and abroad. Every project, big or small, has an impact on somebody. Through our work we can be advocates for our profession and for a better built environment. There are also opportunities to do this through AIA and other organizations.
I recently attended the last session of AIABaltimore’s CivicLAB where three fellow architects in our chapter gave presentations on what they have done and are doing to give back as citizen architects. It was very inspiring to see what can be done when you have a vision to improve a community, a passion and willingness to spend your time helping others, and in one case, have the persistence to keep going when others are trying to derail the cause. There are volunteer opportunities through known programs like the Storefront Improvement Program and Green Apple Service Day, as well as organizations like the Neighborhood Design Center and Habitat for Humanity, but there are also opportunities to volunteer at your local library, school or community organization.
One of the current topics in Baltimore City we are following is the Complete Streets legislation to be proposed by Council member Ryan Dorsey. AIABaltimore recently wrote a letter in support of this forthcoming legislation, which promotes integrated design and incorporating elements to make our streets safer, protect the environment, improve community health and promote prosperity. As architects, thinking holistically and integrating projects into the context of the site is inherent in what we do. I believe this bill brings in the other players to this process to help ensure these visions can be carried out.
AIA Maryland recently sent out a special newsletter to share with members the work being done lobbying for our members and calling for PAC donations. It is important to know what efforts are being done in support of our profession and keeping apprised of the issues being followed. We need to be a bigger voice which we can only do together. Keep an eye out for more information about this year’s PAC campaign and I hope that you will be a part of these efforts.
So, this is my call to give back and help the collective us move forward. Volunteer. Be an advocate. Support our PAC.
Sharon Day, AIA, President