Community Engagement in Times of Quarantine

by Allysha Lorber, ASLA, and Elisabeth McCollum

image: photo by Sue Zeng on Unsplash

Just a few weeks ago, we didn’t anticipate being told to “stay-at-home” in quarantine while a global health pandemic ravaged public health and the economy. For those of us who work in the transportation industry, we’re used to projects lasting for years with a schedule of milestones set in place, one leading to the next. Spring is a time when many projects reach that critical milestone of a public meeting. Community engagement is part of the critical path, and project decisions can’t be made, allowing the project to advance, without meaningful opportunities to hear public input. How can we engage with communities when we must be “socially distant”?

Projects across the country are being put on hold, unable to reach that critical milestone of a public meeting while our constituents are safely staying home, busy working overtime performing an essential service, or worse—battling sickness themselves. However, public engagement can still occur—even if it’s in a different form than we originally planned.

Virtual public meetings aren’t new, but now more than ever, they are being embraced as an effective tool to engage with community members and project stakeholders. Meetings can be hosted on a variety of platforms allowing presenters to share presentations and discuss ideas with small groups of community members. These meetings can be advertised in all the same ways that traditional in-person meetings are publicized—on websites, through the press and social media, and by mail. Paid advertisements can also be effective at getting the word out and directing people to a website where they can connect.

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#iAdvocate: Be an Advocate for Transportation

ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Portland Mall Revitalization, ZGF Architects LLP / image: ZGF Architects LLP

The future of federal transportation and transit funding has many of us concerned as we hear how legislative priorities are taking shape in the Capitol. With this uncertainty, the need for landscape architects to advocate for less-costly, green infrastructure solutions and stable transportation funding that serves community needs is greater than ever before. In this post, and in tandem with Advocacy Day this week, we’re focusing on ASLA’s advocacy efforts and encouraging our members to bring their voices to the transportation priorities conversation.

ASLA’s 2017 Advocacy Agenda is taking shape. On March 9, ASLA released their top U.S. infrastructure recommendations: Landscape Architects Leading Community Infrastructure Design and Development. The report makes recommendations for supporting active transportation programs, expanding and increasing funding for the TIGER program, and investing in transit and transit-oriented development.

On March 17, ASLA released their statement on President Trump’s proposed budget and called out the dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources that strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and economic development. ASLA will continue to work with legislators as the budget process unfolds and will carry forward a strong advocacy agenda.

How can you as a member advocate for transportation funding and sound infrastructure solutions? If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the ASLA iAdvocate Network so that you can support the Society’s efforts to impact public policy at national, state and local levels. Once you sign up, email alerts are delivered to your inbox on issues important to landscape architecture that are being debated by lawmakers. With a few clicks, you can send a message to your Senators and Representative and make your voice a part of ASLA’s advocacy efforts.

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Transportation at the Annual Meeting

Canal Street in New Orleans image: Alexandra Hay
Canal Street in New Orleans
image: Alexandra Hay

PPN Live in New Orleans: Network. Learn. Have fun!

The ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO is the place to connect with your Professional Practice Network (PPN) peers in person. If you’re coming to New Orleans, please join us for any or all of our events on the EXPO floor on Sunday, October 23:

PPN Live Session: Sunday, October 23, 9:15-10:00 AM, Jackson Square Meeting Room

The Transportation PPN Leadership Team will share updates on our work and highlight opportunities for you to share your expertise and expand your network through ASLA. In addition, Roxanne Blackwell, ASLA’s Director of Federal Government Affairs, will present the latest news on federal transportation legislation and advocacy. Have an idea for an education session for the 2017 Annual Meeting? We’ll connect PPN members with each other to plan for next year in Los Angeles. For one panel that teamed up last year after meeting in Chicago, it led to a successful education session proposal to present in New Orleans!

Network and Learn at the ASLA EXPO – Transportation Tour: Sunday, October 23, 1:00-2:00 PM, starting from PPN Live

Meet with Transportation PPN members and product exhibitors in a show floor tour that will provide 1.0 PDH (LA CES/non-HSW). The tour will offer the opportunity to learn about new and improved products and services for transportation-related projects. We’ve got a great lineup that includes Victor Stanley, Duo-Gard Industries, HessAmerica, and Custom Rock FormLiner. Sign up online to join us on the tour!

EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs: Sunday, October 23, 4:30 – 6:00 PM

Network with your peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs. It’s now free to all registered annual meeting attendees, and non-PPN members are welcome to attend. Be sure to stop by to get your PPN pin!

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