By Scott Walters, AIA – Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Co-Chair, AIABaltimore Board of Directors
In searching for perspective of the events leading up to the presidential election and the outcome, I find myself longing for distance—distance, to step back and fully comprehend the physical and emotional investment of all sides in what has been an exceptionally contentious election.
Seeking distance would have served Robert Ivy, FAIA well this week. His tone-deaf response to the election laid bare a wound in the values and emotions of our members. As we seek common ground to move forward we must hold our leaders accountable for their statements and actions. If we do not, we are complicit by omission. These omissions are where Mr. Ivy failed.
As we hold AIA leadership and the nation’s leaders accountable, we must also be accountable ourselves. We must state explicitly, without hesitation and at every opportunity, our values. We must also reaffirm our commitment to fighting sexism, racism, and the purveyors of falsehoods and half-truths.
If we are honest with ourselves, the enormity of the task in front of us would be massive regardless who won. It is undoubtedly harder today. So what do we do? Do we recoil, wait for 4 years and hope for different outcomes under different leadership? Do we abandon our institutions and start over?
Some of you will leave AIA. You will leave because you feel the AIA is not fighting for the values you believe to be nonnegotiable. You will leave because you feel the AIA is complicit by omission. You will choose to fight the system from the outside. Some will choose to fight from within to build on the good work AIABaltimore has done to date and demand improvement where it has failed. There is no right or wrong way to pursue change. The only way to fail is by choosing not to fight.
For those whom leave, I wish you nothing but success. I hope you make a difference; I hope you change our world for the better. I plan to stay. I plan to engage. I plan to lead.
I want there to be 89,000 leaders in AIA. To make change we all must be leaders. Do not confuse being in charge with being a leader. We must commit to make a difference in our world. We must commit to do what is right: to promote inclusivity, equality and sustainability. We also must hold those accountable who do not. In moments of turmoil we will be judged not by our words but by our actions.
Will you lead with me?