How Design Professionals Can Effect Change on Capitol Hill
At this year's American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) advocacy day, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Democratic Representative from Oregon's 3rd District, focused on the central role of design professionals in bringing sustainable goals to the forefront of America. He said, "Landscape architects, architects, planners, and engineers, the 'four horsemen of the livability apocalypse,' must work together to create a more positive narrative on Capitol Hill. In an 'flat-out broken' political system 'disconnected from the realities of what people are demanding,' design professionals can explain to policymakers what communities actually want: more sustainable transportation infrastructure, more green infrastructure, and more livable environments."
And to the Congressman, this narrative must be couched in a more nuanced language of amenities and communities, rather than densities. "Talking about 'densifying neighborhoods' doesn't really cut it with policymakers. 'I don't want to be densified.' Instead, designers should talk about 'developing amenities' and 'restoring communities to their historic population size.'"
Blumeanauer gave several examples of how the design professions, "all people with visions for how communities can be better," can influence the federal government to have more sustainable and economic impacts. "As an example, green infrastructure systems can save the government lots of money. Just basic things like taking out lawns that need to be mowed in favor of native wildflower gardens cuts down expenses."