Each year the American Society of Landscape Architects has an annual meeting, and this year it was in Chicago. I’ve gone to three of the last four, and must say that this was one of the most enjoyable weekends. Some of that may be caused by my circumstances surrounding each meeting. (Minneapolis I was still in Grad School and a week from presentations, so my mind wasn’t fully there; San Fransisco I had just graduated and had an interview set up that I was to busy freaking out about to enjoy myself) This year I am working retail, have been out of the field for just over a year, and am feeling… disheartened. So to go to a convention center for four days straight, see talks about all the things that used to make up my daily work life, and talk to nothing but people who do what I love doing was great.
There is also something to be said for the fact that I have learned how the whole thing works a little more each time as well. I know now that If I don’t want to go broke eating lunch at a convention center, I should bring my own. I know how to read education session descriptions a little better to see which ones are going to be about things I already know, which will be informative, and which will be inspirational.
Don’t let my learning curve dissuade you; the conference each and every year was a great experience. Being in a building with 5,000 other LAs is amazingly powerful. Plus where else do you not only get to see projects that have influenced you, but see, just walking down the hall, people like Ken Smith, Peter Walker, Michael Van Valkenburgh, and Shane Coen. You also can finally meet all those people from other parts of the country who you talk to on Land8, and see your former classmates who have spread around the country. It may not be cheap to pay your own way, but it is entirely worth it.
I realize that I probably sound like some sort of cheesy commercial right now, but the truth is, I really just want to thank everyone from the ASLA who makes this meeting work as well as it does, and I want to thank all of the firms that do come to the meeting. There are a lot of firms that see networking within the profession as talking with the enemy, not a chance to grow, learn, and teach. That is part of why it means so much to see the heavy hitters at events like this.
So principals, once I get my resume and portfolio tweaked, expect to see my work on your desk, I’m coming. Everyone else, I’ll see you in DC.