To: ASLA Florida Members
From: Adam McCollister, President
Date: December 20, 2019
First and foremost…. thank you! Thank you for being a member of the organization that works tirelessly to advance the profession of landscape architecture and, most importantly, advocates for the basic right to do so. I’m truly honored to serve as your President and to work alongside such an amazing group of professionals, many of which have or will become lifelong friends of mine. 2020 is going to be an especially fun and rewarding year for our Chapter, all leading up to the big event - the national Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami Beach in October. As one of my good friends, Dean Hill, always likes to say, “Many hands make light work”, and so it will be for our Chapter. Luckily we have an outstanding team of volunteers that will take a slew of daunting tasks and make them seem like a walk in the park.
As I’ve grown within the Executive Committee (ExCom), a few things have remained particularly important to me: Public awareness of the profession, education, and elevating the standards of our Chapter. Then, last spring I got ‘bit by the bug’ (“Capitol Hill Bug”) when I participated in my first Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Considering everything I’ve been part of with ASLA, this was hands down the most gratifying thing I had been part of. So I think it goes without saying, Government Affairs and Advocacy has become front and center for me, and let me assure you – our Chapter has an amazing team leading these efforts and National ASLA has a tremendous group supporting us every step of the way.
With this being the first President’s Message of my term, I’m going to briefly touch on the key events over the past few weeks since I took on the role, and highlight some of the major events that are in store for us in 2020.
2019 Fall CPC + Conference on Landscape Architecture – San Diego
Wow! What an event! We’re so fortunate to have a great group of colleagues from the ASLA San Diego Chapter that took time out of their busy week to sit down with us and provide us with a ton of invaluable first-hand information that will help us throughout the next year. We came home with a long list of lessons learned and resources to contact as needed.
The Chapter President’s Council (CPC) meeting also touched on seemingly every aspect of ASLA operations and left each Chapter with a tailored to-do list to implement back home. One common thing that affects all Chapter is membership. National ASLA will be launching a major membership campaign in 2020, and with the Florida Chapter being one of the largest of the organization, we expect to play a big role in that effort. Over the coming months, we’ll be digging into some of the key issues affecting membership and how we might be able to improve our Society in an effort to overcome them.
One of the other major topics of discussion at CPC should come as no surprise – threats to licensure. As I mentioned above, both National and the Florida Chapter have a finger of the political pulse at all times and stand ready to act at a moments notice. This is especially critical in these times where nearly every state in the U.S. has experienced some sort of bill aimed at occupational licensing or reducing barriers to practice.
One of the key things that ASLA has done in response in terms of advocacy has been the hosting of Landscape Architecture Site Tours. Hosting a site tour can make an enormous impact in educating local, state, and federal policy makers on how landscape architects use design to create well-planned communities and master plans, parks, transpoortation corridors, and manage stormwater runoff. ASLA advocates are essential stakeholders in promoting ASLA’s advocay priorities, including licensure, and are well qualified to provide elected officials with an overview of the profession’s contributions in our community. I’m happy to report that the Florida Chapter has hosted at least three (3) site tours in 2019 with several more in the planning stages for 2020.
Some of the other areas that were discussed in detail at CPC include: ASLA Business; Succession Planning Best Practices; Student Chapter Engagement; Archives and Collections; HALS Committee; Honors and Awards; Environmental Justice and Your Chapter.
2020 Design Award and Awards Gala
If you’ve talked to me at all over the past six months, there’s a good chance that I’ve told you how excited I am about this year’s Design Awards Program and Awards Gala, a red-carpet style formal at the renowned Grand Bohemian Hotel in Downtown Orlando. We just released the Call for Entries, which I know raised a lot of eyebrows given the deadline is two months sooner than our Chapter is used to. This was primarily dictated by the Miami 2020 conference in October and the obligations that come along with that. Nonetheless, the submission website is up and running and our Awards Chair, Kellie Moore, is working to solidify her Awards Committee and jury panel. If you’re interested in volunteering, please reach out to her and she’ll be happy to plug you in as best she can.
The Awards Gala is shifting into high gear as well and I couldn’t be happier to have John Del Vitto leading that effort. I can’t wait to see what his creative genius dreams up! We’ll also be hosting a Florida Board of Landscape Architecture (FBOLA) during the afternoon prior to the Gala, which will allow members the opportunity to obtain the required Laws and Rules CEU credit. More to come… stay tuned!
2020 Miami Kickoff Meeting – Loews Miami Beach Hotel
We had a great turnout at our kickoff meeting last week. Our amazing conference planning team worked closely with the National ASLA staff and generated a ton of energy. It was fun to be in the room and witness the excitement first hand. In terms of action items, the most critical item at the moment is the Call for Presentations. The call is out and the January 23rd submission deadline is quickly approaching. It’s not too often the national conference comes to town, so I encourage you all to take this opportunity to submit a presentation for consideration.
I know we’re going to host one of the best Conferences that ASLA has ever had, and I can’t wait to watch the planning unfold over the next 10 months.
2020 Licensure and State Advocacy Grant
Kevin White, our Past President, worked tirelessly in his final weeks as President to submit for a 2020 Licensure and State Advocacy Grant. Thanks to his effort, we received $1,100 to host a State Advocacy Day in Tallahassee in 2020. The planning efforts are just kicking off, but we’re already excited about the potential of this huge advocacy event at our state’s Capitol – which will assuredly piggyback off the efforts and lessons learned of the successful site tour held there last year organized by Jeremy Floyd, our Tallahassee Chair.
I can’t say it enough – I’m so thankful to each and every one of you for your time and support as a member to this Society. This next year will have its share of hard work and there will certainly be challenging times, but when we look back on the year I hope we can all say, “Well, that was fun!”.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding ASLA, or if you want to just drop a line to say hello, please don’t hesitate to do so. I look forward to serving as your President in 2020 and am here to help in any way I can.
Happy Holidays and have a safe and Happy New Year!
All the best,
Adam McCollister, PLA, ASLA
2019-2020 Florida Chapter President
Five Generations of ASLA Florida Presidents
Lead in promoting healthy and just
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P.O. Box 841
Pensacola, FL 32591