ASLA's 2019 Diversity Summit Report
ASLA Connecticut acknowledges the significant gender and racial disparity among our chapter membership. At present, our community of practitioners is composed overwhelmingly of middle-aged, Caucasian men. Less than a third of our members are women; and just 3% are non-white. This is in contrast to the demographics of Connecticut as a whole, which is 51.2% female and 33.5% non-white.
We recognize that there are immense structural barriers to inclusive participation in our chapter and we are fully committed to breaking them down as soon as possible. As part of our Strategic Plan adopted in 2019, we made a commitment to advertising our chapter scholarships to a wide range of nonprofit organizations across the state, particularly those serving diverse urban communities in Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford.
In 2020, we expanded our efforts to include outreach and education of current practitioners regarding racial and gender equity in landscape architecture. Partners in this endeavor include ASLA, The VELA Project, The Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN), and DesgregateCT.
We hope the following resources are helpful in exploring and understanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in our profession.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Webinars
Launched in 2019, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) webinar series is designed to support and advance the work of ASLA's passionate leaders
dedicated to building a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable workforce
The best practices, DE&I initiatives, and collaborations featured in this series grew from the Diversity Summit community and serve to deepen learning while providing leadership through virtual platforms of knowledge.
I Could Have Been Ahmaud Arbery
Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, is a landscape designer and pioneer of design technology in the field of landscape architecture. He is the vice president of The Urban Studio, a Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Olmsted Scholar Fellow, and a part of the ASLA’s Digital Technology PPN Leadership.
In this article from June 2020, he explains the difficulty Black landscape architects experience working -- and living -- in public spaces.
Interview With Kofi Boone
Professor Boone focuses on the changing nature of communities, and developing tools for enhanced community engagement and design. Through scholarship, teaching, and extension service, Professor Boone works in the landscape context of environmental justice, and his research includes the use of new media as a means of increasing community input in design and planning processes.
In this podcast interview, he speaks with Michael Teodoran of The Landscape Architecture Podcast about his work and why landscape architects struggle to talk about race.
Dismantling Systemic Racism in Pedagogy and Practice
Faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Design discuss systemic racism and anti-Black violence embedded in, and facilitated by, the disciplines of design and planning in the U.S. https://bit.ly/2PZojyr
Landscape architecture faculty Anita Berrizbeitia, Charles Waldheim, and Chris Reed contributed to the series and explain what landscapes can teach us about how cultural values and beliefs shape -- or destroy -- the communities in which we work.
Diversity and Inclusion In Our Wild Spaces
Why do communities of color visit National Park Service properties far less than their white counterparts? Why are National Park Service employees disproportionately white?
The marginalization of racial minorities from these landscapes could render them vulnerable in the coming years. What reason will Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities have to advocate for these places if they are not represented in the cultural history. This short video from the Muir Project explores how organizations can bring diversity and inclusion to landscapes.
Building Accessibility Into America, Literally
Thirty years on, the A.D.A. has reshaped American architecture and the way designers and the public have come to think about civil rights and the built world. New courthouses, schools and museums no longer default to a flight of stairs out front to express their elevated ideals. The A.D.A. has baked a more egalitarian aesthetic of forms and spaces into the civic DNA.
But there’s still a long way to go.
The Black Landscape Architects Network is open to professionals and students of African ancestry who are educated and work in areas of the landscape architecture profession. It helps promote opportunities, highlight accomplishments, and mentor students.
Black Landscapes Matter
Some have questioned the long-term impact of BLM on national policy as affecting black people and all Americans. BLM created a comprehensive platform now being championed by The Movement for Black Lives that extends to areas of health, safety, and welfare where black people live. What does this broader agenda mean for designers and planners that work with black people and black communities? What are the implications of this era on the landscapes where black people live, work, worship, remember, and play? Professor Kofi Boone explains in this article from Ground Up journal.
Interview With Walter Hood
Walter Hood, ASLA, is the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California. He is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and lectures on professional and theoretical projects nationally and internationally. In this interview with Jared Green of The Dirt, he articulates how landscape architecture can become more inviting to people of color -- and why white practitioners need to educate themselves on designing for communities of color.
Africatown: Making Space for History and Culture
As Black communities seek to tell their own stories and design their own spatial identities, landscape architects need to be listening and considering “how do we really tell people’s stories?”
Displacement and gentrification have led many Black families to move out of the Central District and raised fears that the neighborhood’s cultural identity may soon be forgotten. Imagine Africatown asks how important places can keep their history and culture and remain accessible to the communities for whom they hold value.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the United States, has pledged to spend $250 million over five years to help reimagine the country’s approach to monuments and memorials, in an effort to better reflect the nation’s diversity and highlight buried or marginalized stories.
“So much teaching happens without us going into a classroom, and without us realizing we’re being taught,” she continued. “We want to ask how we can help think about how to give form to the beautiful and extraordinary and powerful multiplicity of American stories.”
The VELA Project
The VELA Project (Visualizing Equity in Landscape Architecture) is a women-led research collaborative aimed to reveal various gender narratives in the practice of landscape architecture. This initiative is just beginning—with aspirations to expand into visualizing several other important narratives about equity in landscape architecture.
Our Spring 2020 issue of The Connecticut Landscape Architect features a story about their findings in Connecticut -- and how we can help them gather more data.
Urbanism Hasn't Worked For Everyone
In the widespread awakening around race in cities following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis law-enforcement officials, urbanists are being called out more directly for transforming cities in a way that has escalated the racial profiling, policing, and state-sanctioned killing of Black residents. As cities have become more unequal, urbanism has become increasingly viewed as a tool deployed to exacerbate those inequities. And Black practitioners who work in planning, housing, and transportation are facing their own reckoning across a white-centered field.
Why Detroiters Pushed Back Against Trees
Detroiters were refusing city-sponsored “free trees.” A researcher found out the problem: She was the first person to ask them if they wanted them. The residents understood the benefits of having trees in urban environments—they provide shade and cooling, absorb air pollution, especially from traffic, increase property values, and improve health outcomes. They just didn't trust that the City would invest in taking care of the trees.
Out in Architecture?
Workplace norms are changing, but how inclusive is the profession for LGBTQI+ architects?
As architecture catches up to the broader society, the visibility of out LGBTQI+ architects like has the potential to revolutionize the profession, but it can still be difficult for someone to openly be gay or transgender in the architectural profession.
“I do think that there are probably lots of parts of the country where being out, being visibly LGBTQI+, comes at risk of economic survival. We don’t talk about that enough, if at all.”
Land Grab Universities
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which distributed public domain lands to raise funds for fledgling colleges across the nation. Their students sit in halls named after the act’s sponsor, Vermont Rep. Justin Morrill, and stroll past panoramic murals that embody creation stories that start with gifts of free land.
Behind that myth lies a massive wealth transfer masquerading as a donation. The Morrill Act worked by turning land expropriated from tribal nations into seed money for higher education.