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02-11-21 | Feature

ASLA Utah Chapter

2020 State Association Report
by Colin Olsen, Chapter Past President

Members of the ASLA Utah Chapter gathering for a sketch crawl.
Chapter members toured downtown Salt Lake City and its many different scenic locations. Throughout the event, the participants sketched a variety of inspiring sights including roads, trees, and other structures and landscapes.
Chapter members toured downtown Salt Lake City and its many different scenic locations. Throughout the event, the participants sketched a variety of inspiring sights including roads, trees, and other structures and landscapes.

"Unaware what 2020 would bring," that's the theme we chose back in 2019 for this year's ASLA Utah Conference on landscape architecture. We originally scheduled it for May. As COVID progressed, we rescheduled for September and as September neared, we realized we had to either cancel the conference or adapt to a virtual format. Although, going virtual was a bit intimidating as we had never carried out such an event before.

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Fortunately, our Chapter sponsors were open to a different format than they were used to. Jenny Sonntag, our executive director, brainstormed and collaborated with them to come up with a format for a virtual vendor expo. A windstorm hit the Salt Lake area the week of the conference and knocked out power in some areas for several days, complicating the plan for the expo. Resilience and adaptability showed through as sponsors and members adjusted and we extended the schedule. We learned some lessons for how to improve on the format for any future sponsor events, but overall, I feel proud of what we were able to pull off under the circumstances.

We had presenters and two separate panel discussions and decided to spread them out over two days to minimize our contributions to everyone's virtual meeting fatigue. That Thursday afternoon the first meeting, centered on green infrastructure, took place. The second was Friday morning and revolved around adaptable communities. Our speakers handled the bumps of a digital conference with grace and agility and we got through it with only a couple minor wi-fi related hiccups.
As an opportunity for some safe face-to-face interaction, we held a sketch crawl on Friday afternoon. We met up at Liberty Park in downtown Salt Lake City and kept a distance from each other as we sketched at different locations along a pre-selected route.

All-in-all, we are thrilled that we got through the conference with some success. It's our hope that we'll be able to convene in person next year for the conference, but if not, we will build on what we did this year and hope for an even better virtual event!

PS- check out the nifty ASLA Utah masks we had made!

As seen in LASN magazine, December 2020.

Filed Under: UTAH, CHAPTER, ASLA, YEARBOOK, 2020, LASN
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