ASLA dues

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    Ben Holmes

    I am curious how many LA’s pay for the ASLA membership dues.  I am trying to justify the cost.   Also does anyone know if you can write off the dues?


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Not this one (paying dues).

    You can write off memberships to professional organizations.

    Andrew Louw

    Good luck justifying the cost. They have us cornered. As far as I can tell, the ASLA and CLARB do very little to justify the enormous fees they charge.

    To take the LARE today you are looking at $2,000 in fees alone (before state fees, study materials, travel). Frankly, it is disgusting, and a tremendous barrier to entry for young landscape architects. As for the ASLA and their mouthpiece Landscape Architecture Magazine, as far as I can tell, all they do is organize overpriced conferences (you’re looking at $4000 for fees, flights, and accommodation to attend the ASLA annual meeting) and give the same awards to the same 10 firms (predominantly for private sector–or privately funded–work with massive budgets). These organizations are so out of touch with the core of the profession.

    The only reason I ended up paying the membership fees was to be a member of my local chapter that actually does something (an additional fee to join the local chapter)…

    I thought the ASLA and CLARB were here to serve us, but it seems the reality is that that we’re here to line their pockets. Shall we start a revolt? Unlikely, but we can boycott their annual meeting and stop paying for membership. It would be refreshing to see some of the leaders in the field stand up the ASLA and call them on their BS.

    FYI…you’re unlikely to find any ASLA or CLARB representatives replying to these blog posts.

    Ben Holmes

    Thanks for the responses.  I can relate to the sentiment here.  I have been in the same mindset for some years now.  What does ASLA do for me?  Is it there for the 1%?  I look at it as I pay $370/year for a magazine that is 75% advertisement.  While at the same time I see dwindling respect in our governments local and national for the Landscape Architecture profession.  

    In Oregon they just raised our state fees also.  Their reasoning is that there are no new landscape architects.  They also showed that a majority of landscape architects in Oregon are of retirement age.  Every year I see less regulation and requirements for developers to use LA’s.  No need for irrigation plans anymore and most jobs are done by handing a landscaper a check and telling him to make it look nice.  

    If I am going to pay an organization $370/year I want to see action.  I want to see progress for our profession.  Normally I am all for deregulation, but when I seem my profession getting saturated with any chuck with a truck I get worried.  Is our profession in trouble?  We cannot sustain if a handful of companies that do the national mall and giant plaza’s in China are the only recognition we get.  

    Ugh I could keep going, but we need more representation in our local and federal government.  Our environment is changing and Landscape Architects need a seat at the table to help us adapt for the future.

    This last weekend my local chapter held a symposium where the I first learned

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    As goes the economy, so goes our profession. That is not a bad thing on its own. Chuck with a truck only takes business from you or me if we are not worth it to the person paying the bill. That is not ASLAs responsibility or the governments responsibility unless they are doing something that makes better projects unaffordable or making you and me unaffordable. They can’t mandate our value. Our value has to come from our potential clients.

    Some people join ASLA with the expectation that they will raise the value of our profession and that this will equate to raising the value of each member of the profession. The notion is to get everyone else to understand us and learn to value us.

    I choose to concentrate on understanding what is already valued by those who are successfully developing land in my area and making sure that I am able to show them that I, not my profession in general, am able to deliver what they value.

    Robert Anderson

    An interesting dialogue that has started based on a simple question about dues and if they are deductible.

    I would have to say that I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I have worked for employers who supported ASLA and paid the dues and others who thought that it was worthless and didn’t support it at all. I have been a member for over 20 years and like anything else the old adage is true. You only get out of it what you put in. My time in ASLA has helped build leadership skills, Co-Chaired Pennsylvania/ Delaware State meeting with Mark Beauchamp at the tender age of 27. Participated in getting licensure secured in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. If you are concerned about our professions long term viability in Oregon then you should see what your chapter is doing about it and join in.

    Best of luck in your endeavors.

    Dave McCorquodale

    I’m not a member of ASLA or CLARB.  While it certainly seems like a legit business expense, I’d ask your accountant to be sure.  If you’re an employee of a firm, they may also know the answer to that.


    Jamie Chen

    I find my local ASLA chapter active and engaging. There are monthly or bi-monthly meetups which are good for networking, the newsletters list out classes, tours, and other similar events that I would not know about otherwise, and it’s simply good to have another organization of like-minded professionals besides my university’s alumni network.

    That is dependent on the organization of course; the dedicated communications/pr officer is very on the ball and quite often wants anybody with an idea for a field trip, learning opportunity, etc. to contact her with details.

    It isn’t even just landscape architects only; associated professions and supplier reps show up also and if you simply don’t know the local suppliers, you can’t specify effectively. I also feel that in the case of current trends for materials, it is better to have contacts beforehand so that if you want custom work you aren’t a total stranger with wild ideas to them.

    I do think it’s important to branch out in terms of conventions and expos into the construction side, also. There’s a reasonably close landscape contractor’s expo where I am and what the contractors are working with is in my best interest to investigate.

    My classmates have cobbled together a loose Facebook group but other than perhaps an annual attempt to meet up for the less than 15 of us still within the local metropolitan area, there isn’t much besides camaraderie. (However, we’ve freely set up interviewing chances for each other if we can at the firms we variously work in for each other.)

    The fees are a little daunting, but I budget personally for it and in the case of the active local chapter, it is worth it for the friendliness and networking.


    Jamie Chen

    Research on the architects side show that they pay at least $700 annually for their association dues at minimum and the AIA expo costs $775 for the member rate for this year. Non member rate is $1,100. 

    Comic Con may get away with charging less than $60 for tickets but it’s for fun. 

    It takes time and effort to solicit for speakers for the educational panels, assign continuing education credits after analyzing the potential program content, scheduling it so that a range of offerings are available that appeal to many different types of niche practice within the profession, etc. Logistically I can see with this very elementary break down of duties and objectives that it is complicated. 

    Complication costs money. 

    I find that in the case of the public not knowing about the profession that it is a symptom of individual practitioners in general being quiet and almost shy sorts who would rather be creating and lovingly mucking about with their plant materials than tooting their own horn. What do people think we are, in show business?

    There is opportunity out there for individuals who hit on that effervescent viral rise that comes from latching onto Youtube and Instagram to push their design vision. It just happens that occurs mostly for musicians, makeup artists and fashion designers instead of us. 

    I don’t think that is particularly a problem. 

    Our work has months or years in terms of timelines. Not seasons. 

    Plants grow on their own time. Not ours. 

    Popularity through clicks and shares isn’t a goal and it should not be. 

    Good Design is the goal. 

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