Dear Members,

Serving as the AIARE President is not at all what I imagined. I thought we would be drinking wine at our board meetings and having lectures in person with great food and well more wine and or beer, those great elixirs that bond us architectural types. But this was not to be my friends; so read on if you hunger for something new on the menu.

What’s up all? As a chapter we have tried to reach out to the membership to bring you back in. Since COVID-19 has kept us physically apart and strapped us with financial challenges, we created free events online – the virtual happy half hour and relevant web programs but with mixed attendance. Ironically, prior to the pandemic, we saw reporting on a national epidemic of loneliness, yet people are not coming out to the zoom events. Or maybe you are zoomed out or back at work. Clearly, we are not hitting the mark directly. What can we do to connect? Or to help or to be more relevant? Please take this quick survey  and help us understand your current situation. It should take you less than a minute to complete.

What’s a Pandemic Sandwich? It’s COVID-19 sandwiched between the Loneliness Epidemic and Systemic Racism placed on a hot plate called unstoppable Climate Change. Or maybe it’s more of a salad with each ingredient tossed together as crisis and activism rise to the top growing our awareness of the domino effect. The Pandemic Sandwich is what’s for dinner.

Tough Times: We are really in some tough times and it’s not clear what to do. Do we march now or help prevent the spread of COVID-19? While our lives are over-busy, over-burdened, behind on payments, and without stability, is there anything we can count on? Maybe. We could cite national and local progress and improvements on certain fronts, but we still fall way behind on the world happiness index. (The USA is ranked 19th barely above the Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates – just above Saudi Arabia? Seriously?). On top of a global pandemic, we have gross inequities in our economic system and a terrible lack of social justice from health care, to housing, to jobs, to common activities like bird watching, driving and jogging. Suggestion: Take time out to acknowledge more and listen more to different life situations. It’s time well spent and …“When you know better, do better” (Thank you again, Poet Laureate Angelou).

Hope: One the positive side, we are lucky in the design profession. Occupational satisfaction is one of the evaluation points for the World Happiness Index and in our subculture, we rank quite high. Can we design our way out of this box? Maybe.

-Innovation is going to be the only hope for climate change and we know how to innovate.

-As trained listeners by profession, we can keep up with the issues and stand for equality, social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

– We are in fields that influence the design of safer, healthier places bringing people together and helping overcome isolation and fear.

If I’ve left you with nothing but some gratitude for choosing a good vocation, or challenged you to listen to other voices, then great. I’d say Message received….oh and take our survey please.

Sincerely, Your Citizen Architect AIARE President