by Kalle Maggio, ASLA, David Barth, PhD, ASLA, Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, and Lauren Schmitt, ASLA
Over the past year and a half, and as we all continue to be affected by the pandemic, many industries, including the design professions and public practice, shifted from in-person community meetings to the plethora of virtual platforms available for community outreach initiatives. The ASLA Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team decided to conduct a survey that asked landscape architects to describe their experience facilitating virtual community outreach.
The majority of those who provided feedback through this survey used computers and phones for these meetings, and the virtual meeting platforms that were used the most were Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Zoom was the most utilized and described as intuitive, recognizable, and yielded higher participation rates than other platforms. Microsoft Teams has the upper hand for its scheduling capabilities and links with the Microsoft Outlook email platform.
However, there are those who stated that community meetings all have different requirements and engagement should be customized to meet the community’s needs on a case-by-case basis.
The consensus is that though in-person meetings cannot be replaced completely, there is a growing acceptance of virtual meetings due to their convenience and efficiency. People are able to join virtual meetings for the arranged time slot rather than having to spend time traveling to and from a physical meeting site. Some survey participants stated that it allows meeting facilitators to maintain better order, which is necessary for any productive meeting. There is also the ability to record meetings, which provides better review and documentation. Overall, the pandemic has made an impact on the way we continue to conduct business and interact with one another both physically and virtually.
Survey Findings Snapshot
The online survey garnered 61 responses, representing practitioners in private consulting practice (60%) and public agency practice (30%), with other respondents representing students, academic institutions, and non-profits.