Friday, February 5, 2010

Design as Inspiration, Engagement, and Collaboration

Paul Dustrud, Don Kahle, Gabe Greiner, and Shawn Jenkins, flank Peter DeFazio, U.S. Representative, 4th Congressional District, Oregon.

The 2010 AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference just concluded its three-day run (February 3-5) in our nation’s capitol. Unlike the past two Grassroots conferences in 2008 and 2009, I did not attend this year. Instead, I passed the torch to a new cohort of AIA-SWO chapter leaders: Paul Dustrud, AIA-SWO 2010 President-Elect; Gabe Greiner, co-founder and chair of DesignSpring (the AIA-SWO emerging professionals group); and Shawn Jenkins, AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Associate Director. Paul, Gabe, and Shawn were accompanied in Washington, D.C. by AIA-SWO’s indefatigable executive director, Don Kahle.

The 2010 Grassroots theme was Design as Inspiration, Engagement, and Collaboration. Inspiration was the Day 1 mantra, with a program that fired up the conference attendees. Day 2 was all about Engagement: AIA architects from around the country stormed Capitol Hill to advocate for policies and legislation that will position our profession as an indispensible resource enabling the U.S. to remain a global leader. Collaboration was the hallmark of the conference’s final day, as attendees came together to tap into the critical mass of knowledge, creativity, and passion that define the Institute’s Grassroots leadership.

Paul e-mailed me the photo above of the AIA-SWO contingent during its “Day-on-the-Hill” visit with Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). AIA members at every Grassroots Conference head to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators to communicate the importance of the AIA issues agenda. The AIA’s blueprint for economic recovery aims to rebuild and renew through common-sense policies that not only create jobs, but lay the foundation for long-term prosperity. The five AIA planks to help rebuild and renew our nation in 2010 are as follows:
Our AIA-SWO Grassroots team also presented one of the Leadership and Knowledge workshops at the conference. Entitled Seizing the Moment: Growing During a Downturn, the workshop discussed strategies for membership growth and retention during the current economic recession based upon the AIA-SWO experience. Our chapter outperformed nearly every other AIA component in the country by significantly increasing our membership numbers during 2009. We accomplished this by viewing the sluggish economy as an opportunity and using the sense of urgency to strengthen the position of architects in the marketplace and focusing on innovative and creative programs.

I have no doubt that Paul, Gabe, Shawn, and Don represented our chapter well and had a great time in D.C. I’m looking forward to speaking with them soon about their experiences and to learn about what our chapter can do to be of even better service and value to our membership.

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