01-07-21 | Feature

ASLA Minnesota Chapter

State Association Report
by Ali Boese, Co-Communications Director

Participants of ASLA Minnesota's bingo event. Image courtesy of Stephen Himmerich
Awards and banquet co-chair, Luke Nichols
Awards and banquet co-chair, Sandy Muelners
Emerging professionals panel flyer. Designed by Isaac Hase-Raney.
Bingo card as designed by Isaac Hase-Raney. Image courtesy of Stephen Himmerich.

Last fall, our Chapter began a visioning effort seeking to best meet the needs of our membership, engage emerging professionals and advocate for the profession and communities. This process has broadened as we consider how to serve our membership in ways beyond our typical offerings. A survey of our members found that although educational offerings such as LARE prep and CEU opportunities are appreciated, our programming can adapt to be more relevant to emerging professionals and promote landscape architecture more broadly.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered many of our plans and we quickly had to adapt spring social and educational events in creative ways. We had an extremely successful Instagram takeover Design Awards ceremony in April, thanks to the hard work of our awards and banquet co-chairs and provided some fun and adaptive remote programming for our members' educational and social needs. These included an Emerging Professionals Panel that successfully drew participation from students and early-career designers, and virtual LA Trivia and Bingo.

The most recent issue of _Scape, our Chapter's magazine, centered around women in landscape architecture. The winter 2020 issue profiled established professionals and featured recent MLA graduates' thoughts about equity and design. Entitled Enacting Equity, we touched on some topics that are now at the forefront of many of our conversations as a community.

Our most challenging work of this year and those to come has just begun. Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis in particular have been cast in the spotlight because of our deeply entrenched racial disparity and police violence. George Floyd's murder has forced many of us who have been unaware or passively accepting of our roles in these systems to re-examine our part in this as designers and neighbors. We have formed an equity working group and are calling on our membership to join us as we begin to engage in the work of dismantling our racist systems and co-creating a just future.

We are partnering with the Cultural Landscape Foundation to host the What's Out There Weekend program in the Twin Cities in the fall of 2021. One of our goals in planning of this event has been to recognize and feature places created by Minnesota's Native, Black and diverse immigrant populations that have been unrecognized by our design community in the past and to tell the stories of places lost to the violence of erasure.

And we are strategizing ways to incorporate equity in all of our work and programming. We feel this is a critical path towards landscape architecture's future relevance in Minnesota and beyond.

As seen in LASN magazine, December 2020.


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