Architects have a wealth of knowledge that can benefit whole communities, even when not working for a client. The American Institute of Architects encourages putting those tools to good use, and offers support for people who decide to take action.
In their publication, “How Architects can Become Advocates for Livable Communities,” the AIA explains that architects can shape communities, change public policy, and help create a healthier, safer, more sustainable environment. That’s a lot of power and influence, and it can affect the lives of many.
If you’d like to be involved at the local, state, or federal level, here are 3 ways that you can help:
Run for Public Office at Any Level
If you really want to be an advocate for responsible design, go straight to the top by running for public office. That’s where policy is made, and you could be a part of it. Your efforts could help improve housing and neighborhoods, preserve historic properties, conserve energy, and reach many other social and economic goals.
Public office could mean anything from running for mayor or your city council, to the state legislature or Congress, if you’re so inclined. Know that you’d have the AIA behind you, as they advocate architects filling these important roles and recognize that your expertise can benefit everyone.
Become Active in Your State AIA Component
State-level AIA components typically have Government Affairs advocates. Every state has representation on the State Government Network, which is organized by the AIA to help architects meet with legislators to discuss important issues.
If your schedule can’t accommodate working toward change, you can still support it by contributing to your state AIA component’s political action committee. You can find more information about donations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 202-626-7383.
Start or Join a Community Advocacy Group
If there’s a particular issue in your community that you’d like to help, think about starting or becoming active in a community advocacy or “grassroots” effort. Your local AIA component can help with this, too.
There are lots of options to work with. You could organize a workshop, hold public meetings, talk with the media, use social media and other outlets online, and work with existing groups that need your help.
Architects bring experience and perspective to projects, large and small. Volunteer work can help make your community better, and it can also help effect change in legislation that benefits everyone.
The AIA explains that livability issues, such as traffic, health, safety, schools, the environment, economic development, and an overall sense of community, affect the quality of life for every person who lives and works there. Architects like you are uniquely qualified to identify and solve problems, creating a better environment and more livable communities.
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