January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm #165611
At the risk of another personal attack (assuming your remark was aimed at me Russell?)
Artists have been doing studio and gallery co-ops for a long time. You may want to look into how these are constructed-business wise. Not exactly the same, but maybe similar enough. I know they usually charge a flat monthly fee (ala Tanya), and a percentage of sales (ala Jonathon). And the artists maintain their singular business status.January 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm #165610
Those of you who have actually gotten leads, written up contracts and have done residential landscape design/architecture, … would you have incentive to join a co-op? If so, what would that incentive be? Residential work does not require a team, so it is not because it expands your capability.
Joining a co-op is much like taking on a partner or group of partners. If you have ever done residential design work, were you thinking about taking on a partner or partners?
There are only two resons to join a co-op. One is that you expect to get more work than you can on your own. The second is to participate in projects that you are incapable of getting on your own. The former requires that others are getting more work than they can produce on their own. The latter requires being competitive with larger more efficient and organized firms which means having seasoned experienced leaders running the co-op and determining who is an asset and liability. It is no magic place where everyone is happily doled out a piece of the project that they want and a share of the profit.January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm #165609
About half my work is residential; I would join a co-op like the Hive or like an artists’ co-op (really a co-working space) for the 3rd reason – long dark winters – in other words, to do my work around other people. I would have to balance the cost of the space vs. the price of my sanity…. just kiddding….not really.
I’m actually working through the elance virtual workspace model right now, which is kind of like the virtual co-op. Its a cross disciplinary concept project. But there is definately a hiring client with a clear vision and we have actally met in person but they are using other professionals from across the country. I don’t know them well and am sticking to low-risk interactions at this point. Will let you know how it goes.January 18, 2011 at 12:00 am #165608Heather SmithParticipant
For newbies like us I think a coop offers the chance to bid on projects we wouldn’t have the chops to get on our own. It also gives the team the chance to go up against the big guys. Personally for us, the chance to even write proposals and bids is an experience a new landscape architect can’t get on their own. Wait…I should say write correctly. 🙂 All of these experiences, including failing and not getting the projects are beneficial in our eyes. The project that my husband Jonathan Smith mentioned was a project this firm hadn’t even heard of…so it was beneficial to them that they even know it exists and beneficial to us that we create connections and a chance to learn the ropes with other, much more seasoned professionals.
Initially we struggled with seeing ourselves as having something to offer, but realize that each landscape architect is going to have their own strengths. Jon offers the ability to write clearly and professionally, has had recent experience with design technologies, is excellent at presentations and communication and clearly is assertive when it comes to making his own way.
Not everyone is content doing design/build…and in this economy I think it does require a new way of looking at the profession. We already see people bailing out. I think of a co-op as offering landscape architects a way of doing something about their situation rather then waiting for a firm to decide to hire them.
Wanted to add: My newest motto is Failure is an option…we have to keep getting up again and again…and I really believe this will eventually pay off.January 18, 2011 at 12:11 am #165607
I particularly like that this model offers a cooperative / mentorship vision of landscape architecture that this offers – more network-centric and egalitarian.January 18, 2011 at 12:44 am #165606
Sorry, I already got slammed for offering an opinion.January 18, 2011 at 1:59 am #165605
Russell: a denial without a reason is not an apology, or an explanation of a
Agree or disagree with me, but don’t get personal…..January 18, 2011 at 2:38 am #165604
Joint ventures, networking with other LAs, networking with other professionals in related fields, hiring (or being hired) as subs, are all things that many people do easily and successfully, but a true co-op of part time people is not the same thing. It needs to be an entity with marketing and management.
Are any of you in a true co-op?January 18, 2011 at 4:57 am #165603Heather SmithParticipant
Officially no. I guess I tend to think more of an interdisciplinary group of people working together to win larger projects.
One part of the true co-op idea that does appeal to me is the idea of mentor ship and help. I know Mark Hoverstein (hope I didn’t butcher his name) the head of the College of Art and Architecture at UI spoke about what his department did at UNLV. They had a group (probably not technically a co-op) of licensed landscape architects that took on newer graduates to mentor. These new graduates would go into smaller communities that wouldn’t normally attract LAs and allow them to work under their license…therefore allowing them a chance at their own license. I can see how a co-op could raise some challenges…but am not sure that those are negatives. I imagine that people who would join something together would have a similar overarching philosophy that would be their driving force.
I really do think we have to get imaginative when it comes to the future economy. I definitely think Landscape Architecture has a place…I am just not sure it should look like it did before…as that clearly wasn’t sustainable.January 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm #165602Jonathan P. Williams, RLAParticipant
Heather I agree completely was that we need to be imaginative. That is where I started with all of this. I saw this idea and I wanted to see what would happen it was explored.
The idea of of Master/Aprentice is maybe where the profesion should be headed. This idea of a co-op alows for that kind of relationship in a tough market and for little set up cost.January 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm #165601
Landscape architecture is/was sustainable, growth in it was not.January 19, 2011 at 1:52 am #165600
Does anyone not see that the closer the concept comes to reality, the closer it comes to being a regular firm that hires temps? It won’t be a co-op. It will have execs at the top and a lot of people working part time and short term. The people who hope to gain the most from the co-op (the unemployed and recent graduates) are the ones with the least to gain and most to lose. This is downsizing folks.
Is this not obvious?
It is not a commune of equal sharing and empowerment to the little guy. If that could work, there is nothing stopping six or seven of you to do that right now. The catch is that there is no leadership in such a group. When leadership is established, leadership needs a bigger share of the pie. Everyone for this is waiting for someone else to lead so they can be taken along for the ride. The alternative is to be the person to take everyone else on the ride – and for them to be equally willing to carry the others. It has to be a bus full of drivers and no passengers. How many drivers are out there following this thread.? How many want to share the bus?January 19, 2011 at 2:38 am #165599
I know this will probably drive you crazy Andrew, because it doesn’t fit into your paradigm, but the available behavioral research actually points to this kind of arrangement being self-structuring and non-hierarchical. That is, in a group of people working together for a common purpose people tend to fall into the roles that they feel most comfortable in and actually act in the interest of the group without a hierarchical structure.
Evolutionary biologists, neuroscientists and behaviorial scientists have discovered that people act cooperatively with no specific leadership. The core research is from the Department of Defense; you can reach your own conclusions about why they are interested in the leadership structure of small autonomous groups of people.
Yes, it very well could turn out the way you predict. And actually you have company – economist Jeremy Rifkin predicts dire consequences from this kind of organization in “The End of Work”, though he has changed his tune in the 16 years since he wrote it.
But then again, it might not. There’s no leadership in Wikipedia. Its a self-policing, self-organizing, loosely organized group of not only autonomous, but anonymous people. There is a lot of interest in this concept- see the wiki on network-centric organization http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network-centric_organization read on and follow some of the links….
Included in this topic are worknets, knowledge work, hybrid enterprises, sensible organization and social technologies as well as network-centric warfare links (aha – I knew the DoD wouldn’t spend $$$ on a study for no reason….) There is a whole world of business and organizational theory based on exactly what we are talking about.
From the link above:
“Traditional organizations that favor a rigid hierarchical structure and ego-centric methods still employ the outmoded concept where the decision-making authority lies solely in the domain of its corporate headquarters. Changes resulting from developments in ICT and the growth of the Internet, have made it increasingly difficult to provide a platform for effective and efficient management and operations. As observed by De Vulpian (2005),  “we are in the process of moving from a pyramidal, hierarchical society to a single-story society where heterarchical relationships dominate”.
I’m not saying you are wrong. I’m saying that there is no denying increased interest in these concepts for valid economic and organizational reasons; and not all of them are wheatgrass and granola.January 19, 2011 at 3:40 am #165598
So everyone who is talking about it is not doing it because “the man” is keeping them down? What is the problem? Why is it being talked about instead of being done and closing the firms of the establishment?
Nothing is outmoded until it is replaced.
Someone step up and do it and I guaranty that in the end there will be leaders running it and making more money. There will be low level workers making less. It quickly won’t be a co-op, The lowest level workers will be less well off because thet won’t be able to work full time or continuously since they will be switched out regularly. Because of that, they will not have any benefits and not have the same level of unemployment benefits as they would be laid off from a full time job. The people who rise to the top will have a competitive edge over the traditional firm because of less overhead, so developers will get more for their money. Traditional firms will quickly follow suit and even more LAs will be reduced to part time temps with no benefits.
Be careful what you wish for because it is coming. The gap between the haves and the have nots will be farther, not closer in a system like this. Don’t kid yourself.
What is stopping anyone from doing this? The bus has no room for passengers. If you are going to be part of a co-op you have to be a leader amongst other leaders. Step up and do it or wait to be hired by “the man”.
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