Information Overload

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    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Information now moves so quickly and freely that I can not help but wonder if “the new reality”, to use the internet buzz phrase, is that too many people are influenced by too much baseless information. So many ideas and predictions are launched and repeated as facts and people are designing their whole lives around them OR they are so overwhelmed that they can’t get out of their own way.


    So many people find articles that support what they hope will be true, dismiss anything and everything that indicates otherwise, and attack anyone who either disagrees or submits evidence to the contrary.


    There is now more than ever a habit of not looking through our own eyes and relying on others to tell us what is going on around us.


    A wind mill or solar panel is not a new economy based on new energy. It is just a substitution of energy source. It will not change the economy (there are more jobs producing oil, shipping it, maintaining energy plants,… than there is in constructing and maintaining green energy, so don’t fall for the more jobs BS). Alternative energy is great and necessary, but it is not a new economy.


    Landscape architecture is still listed as expecting something like an 18% growth by 2018. It is like measuring the ocean as the tide is coming in and predicting it to continue to rise at the same rate until Everest is under water.


    Reality is that we help others by tranforming their ideas of a project into a buildable design. The whole thing is contingent on someone else being in the position to invest for gain by transforming the ground into something different than it is now. It follows that when that happens, it brings people like us in.


    Somehow, there are a whole lot of people who think that because we exist to do such work, it should compel others to find a way to use us. They spend so much time trying to figure out who should be responsible for getting those people to come to us. 


    Development of land still exists. Look around to see what IS getting built and what requires which services. Go toward it instead of waiting for it to come to you.


    I’ve seen and been involved in wind projects and I can tell you that there is more work on a single residential house plan than a wind turbine for local civil engineers, never mind landscape architects. Yet, I keep hearing all of the people who think there is going to be a ton of work for us … Look, don’t listen.

    mark foster

    Excellent points.

    I just had a conversation last night about being “over-plugged in”.  Maybe it’s a generational thing.  I remember a time when it took planning and effort to connect (doesn’t trying to find a pay-phone sound quaint?).  Now it seems it takes the same amount of effort to be left alone!   

    Maybe we are in an age where we need to conscously manage our unconnectedness… (The irony of writing this on a social networking sight has not escaped me)

    Ben Yahr

    New title, same argument eh?


    What happened to positivity?


    Yes, LAs need to be more assertive in going after the kind of projects that we want to do and the ASLA is not going to be a conduit that provides work for us… Duh! The economy has already weeded out most of the firms that had principals who sat around waiting for work to come through the door.


    I’m not betting on green energy, high speed rail or Uncle Sam to save my butt. I’m counting on the things that were the bread and butter for LAs before the economy tanked. People need to build structures rather it is in the public or private sector. We also need more parks and open space. So much of what has been built in this country has fallen into disrepair, isn’t energy efficient, or no longer suits the needs of the user. I believe the last three years of neglect has exasperated this problem. The need for landscape architectural services in the US hasn’t gone away; they’ve just been put on hold.


    Once the economy picks up and the majority of Americans realize that change is inevitable. Green energy, progressive public transportation, et cetera will be the icing on the cake for LAs.


    If there’s not a boom for us LAs some time in the near future, I’ll build a raft and float my fanny across Lake Erie to Canada. Because, if there’s no future for landscape architecture; there is no future – Go USA!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    You could say that.


    Positivity comes from succeeding in having a job or being able to apply your craft. That more easily happens when we see what there is currently going on and to go toward it.

    Disappointment leads to negativity. Investing borrowed money on education for, and pursuing  jobs that don’t exist leads to disappointment followed by negativism.

    My hope is that some people who are out of work and negative will take the time to look away from blogs and take the time to see what is going on in their communities – what is under construction, what is going on in the permitting process, where is money changing hands that we can get in the way of?

    The most active sector in terms of numbers of jobs in my remote part of the world in terms of professional design work is individual residential work.

    There is a lot of commercial site design work (the non-glamorous stuff like car dealership redesigns, and a few raze & replace commercial buildings – improved strip malls) in terms of hours of work rather than numbers of people working on them or numbers of projects. The commercial work is mostly in the battle between developers and regulators as much as consultants and advocates as designers. It is not fun, not particularly aesthetically rewarding, but it is work and experience that can be put to better use when other opportunities do re-emerge.

    There is a great amount of environmental mitigation and design compliance that goes along with it. Again, it is not as glamorous as it might sound because it is tied to projects pushing up against resource areas and the work is not separated from it. In order to be involved in restoration in this area, you have to be involved in what is requiring the need for it.

    There is work, but it is not compartmentalized. You have to do all of it on a particular project in order to do the parts that might be the only ones that you want to do. In other words – I can make rain gardens and bioretention ponds only if I get as many parking spaces as possible while I’m doing it.

    We are in a profession that contradicts itself all of the time. Most of the opportunity is in those areas that conflict, but so much of our education reinforces the notion that we are only the healers. There are some jobs that are pure healing, but they are very rare.

    If we want to work, we can’t ignore where the work is. I don’t think that is negative. I rather hope it is encouraging.

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