02-05-21 | Feature

ASLA Illinois Chapter

2020 State Association Report
by Jim Forrester, Chapter Communications Committee Co-Chair

Shortly after the pandemic hit, ASLA Illinois hosted a lunchtime sketching session to keep members connected. The positive response lead to another session being hosted later in the year. The 2020 Webinar Series rolled on with twelve webinars, two co-sponsored by APA-IL, being offered throughout the year.
ASLA Illinois kicked off 2020 with our annual Winter Spritzer. This year's event was held at Pinstripes Chicago and featured a team bowling tournament, as well as bocce ball. Also, in January, ASLA Illinois took part in InvigorateU, a two-day continuing education workshop in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, with downstate partner the Illinois Green Industry Association. In February, ASLA Illinois hosted a LARE prep review session at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for professionals on the road to licensure. These events would prove to be the only in-person gatherings as shortly thereafter, COVID-19 forced the entire world to re-evaluate plans moving forward. ASLA Illinois was determined to provide members with the services and opportunities they were used to and shifted focus to a virtual way of life. All webinars and virtual social events were made free of charge to members.
In April, the Emerging Professionals Committee curated a weeklong game of BINGO which concluded with a much-needed virtual happy hour.
In April, the Emerging Professionals Committee curated a weeklong game of BINGO which concluded with a much-needed virtual happy hour.

In May, ASLA Illinois and APA-IL co-hosted an online forum to discuss COVID-19 and the near- and long-term potential impacts of a pandemic and social distancing on the planning, landscape architecture, and urban design professions. As the school year wound down, the Education Committee maintained the Chapter's normal representation at year end project reviews at both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and IIT via online platforms. ASLA Illinois participated in the annual UIUC Sasaki Day with presentations and awards being given virtually.


In July, ASLA Illinois partnered with the Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin Chapters to present "What's Next? Being a landscape architecture Student During COVID-19," a virtual discussion between midwestern state Landscape Architects and students. Beginning in August, the Illinois Chapter's Emerging Professionals committee kicked off a new monthly series that explores all things sustainability with a focus on the Midwest region, featuring special guests leading economic, environmental, and equitable initiatives.

2020 also saw exciting milestones and new opportunities for members and partners of ASLA Illinois. Past Illinois Chapter president Keven Graham began his term as vice president of governmental affairs for ASLA National. In May, ASLA Illinois trustee and membership chair Brad McCauley was elected as membership vice president for ASLA National. Also in 2020, ASLA Illinois partner Millennium Park Foundation received the Landmark Award from ASLA National for Millennium Park.

The incredible efforts put forth towards Advocacy in 2019, as ASLA Illinois sought to elevate the - at the time - current Title Act to a Practice Act continued in full force in 2020. In late 2019, the House Session in which the Illinois Title Act was scheduled to be extended was unexpectedly ended early. As a result, even though there was no opposition to the proposed bill, it was not called to vote, and on January 1, 2020, the Illinois Title Act expired. Shortened sessions in state congress due to COVID-19 has made reinstatement a long and difficult process. The ASLA Illinois board has worked throughout the year to meet with legislators and engage new allies in order to get the Illinois Title Act vote on the table before the end of the year. Throughout the year, relationship building has continued with legislators, and the Executive and Advocacy Committees have worked to raise funds for legislative efforts. ASLA Illinois is anticipating that the 2020 Fall Veto session will end with a refreshed, 10-year Title Act.

As seen in LASN magazine, December 2020.


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