Tone of the Discussion Board

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    Zach Watson

    I have been reading a number of the topics on the discussion board, and I have felt a feeling of depression/what if/why don’t we…./just a negative undertow.  Is this a constant feeling within the industry or is it because our economy is in the shape it is in at the moment?  

    Andrew Spiering

    Zach, that is a great question that you raise. I am interested to hear what people have to say, as well…

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I’d start by asking anyone why they pursued the profession and follow it with asking if it is not what he or she thought it was. I think this is the root of the problem.

    david j bockman

    Could I ask for an example of what you’re describing here? Thanks!

    Bob Luther

    Can I choose Both?!

    Zach Watson

    Here are a few example of what I’m talking per request.

    “So, if I had it all over again I would avoid the whole damned mess by getting a degree in marketing and/or graphic art.”

    “This (the new SSI Standards) is the most insane thing that has come down the road.”

    “I’m going back to school because there isn’t enough stability in the profession.”

    The many people who have commented on how we don’t get the recognition that we deserve

    That ASLA doesn’t do enough or doesn’t do what is needed in order to advance the profession

    While there are others, these are just a few examples of what I have heard or read. Mostly I’m just a little sad to see so much pessimism among some in the profession. I understand that there are many who are having a difficult time with the shape that the economy is, but I’m just trying to understand if this is a mentality that is ever present or people just dealing with difficult times.

    Jason T. Radice

    Expression like this has been coming for a loooooong time, it just took the recession to bring it to the fore. It happens every downturn, and even in between (It was a low-spot in the profession when I graduted from college, and a great many of my fellow students never got into the professional at all.) The recognition and ASLA discussions have been happening for as long as I can remember, though. And it’s a historical one as well! The recognition thing goes back at least to the ’60s when planning was ceded to newly created professional planners. These discussions used to happen primarily amongst colleagues or in small groups, but Land8Lounge, thankfully, has allowed the discussion to happen in the open with a much wider audience.

    Ryland Fox

    You are getting a cross section of an industry at a downtime, so no matter what industry it is there are going to be upset people. Outside of that I think that in general, unhappy people express their upset feelings on messageboards more than happy people do. Being unhappy makes you want to tell others about it while telling people how happy you are can just be rude. Especially when a lot of others are upset.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Whether it is the economy or not, the underlying thing from the people making the posts is that the profession is not meeting their expectations.

    There seems to be two major categories of stress that come out in posts in my opinion. One is the current limitation of opportunity. The other is frustration of idealistic people either not being able to freely excersise their passion or concerned that others are not 100% following their ideals.

    Idealism is what now drives our education. Profit for others is the engine that drives our profession. Reconciling between the two is not always easy.

    Tanya Olson

    I have also been noticing the same thing and wondering about it. I’ve heard (through the grapevine) of people from the design professions (architects in this case) literally ceasing to function or contribute when they got laid off – sit around and watch tv and go the bar every night.
    It probably has to do with the overall culture of the place they are writing from and if people there are having creative responses to the recession – 50% unemployment in places like Detriot must crush the spirit….

    Overall I think it is one of the indications that our culture is undergoing a crisis of the spirit (I do not mean this in a religious sense)and depression/negativity is a reasonable and normal response to this crisis and can become the impetus for transformation. This is true throughout the profession – even well-established firms are undergoing this crisis of identitiy!
    Good for us all. Landscape architecture is ready for some transformation!


    Good point.


    “The MOST i can do should be the LEAST i attempt…”

    I could be very wrong – – but during these “uncertain times” I think people are trying to blame everyone & everything else in order to stay the same and be comfortable with what they are used to… Unfortunately, by doing so they are unknowingly leaving their future in the hands of others.

    I don’t think its just the “economy” or “our industry” – – I think it’s us.

    I’d like to share my personal experience for anyone who’s interested…


    Last Fall, I went through a short stint of feeling really negative, discontent, and fed up with all kinds of things including the work I was involved with and my outlook on the profession (and the world)… In fact I can still relate to the emotions that others are probably feeling on a daily basis…. Here’s the thing though – I didn’t like the way I was feeling – and I knew I had to do something about it !

    So, here’s what a friend and I decided to do:
    1. Come up with a list of “soul searching questions” – 14 to be exact.
    2. Answer one question each day by email with no fear of sharing our honest answers.
    3. After the two weeks I looked over my answers and highlighted the really good stuff.
    4. I took the “good stuff” and incorporated it into a scripture I call my “Ultimate Purpose Statement”
    5. I now read my “Ultimate Purpose Statement” everyday and try to revise it whenever I think of something worth changing.

    The process was extremely powerful for me – I quickly realized that no one but myself could be as fully in charge of “making things better for me” than me… The most important thing I realized: “the less value I felt that I was creating / providing the less happy I felt.”

    Again, I could be very wrong – – but I don’t think its just the “economy” or “our industry” – – I think it’s us.

    The MOST i can do should be the LEAST i attempt…

    Tanya Olson

    yes! Exactly what I was talking about – transformation. Unfortunately, we have almost non-existant cultural strategies for dealing with crisis and using it for the fuel of transformation.

    What a great strategy! Its so simple and honest – you can’t find THAT in any self help book!
    Value – Creation….you must be reading the blogs of Steve Pavlina? Actually – many of you might find them interesting.
    I love his “10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job” blog post.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    That is much more productive than looking for ASLA to redefine landscape architecture, or HGTV to promote it with some new shows, or changing the name of LA,, ….

    Too much emphasis is put on what others should or should not do. The firms that are still working away are probably less concerned with what others should do because they are focused on what they are doing. It may even be that because they do not concern themselves with stuff that realy does not matter is why they are busy.

    Too much is devoted toward changing the playing field and not enough is devoted to recognizing the current situation and adapting to it. Drew seems to be making that recognition. Who would imagine that it took a guy named Drew from the U of Idaho to point that out? Thanks Drew.


    At the same time, I dont think we need to dilute ouselves to the point of ignorance.

    I think what Drew is ultimately doing by creating a ‘mission statement’ is synthesizing a set of personal and professional ideals. I think we all do this one way or another. What I like about Drew’s method is that it becomes tangible and readily accessible should we forget. In my mind, the next step is having conviction about those ideals while maintaining enough reason to adapt and reformulate.

    What I’m seeing around here and elsewhere is a lot of depressed people with little or no true conviction or people with a lot of conviction and zero ability to reason or adapt.

    Whether we carry this philosophy into the professional environment is up to each of us, but I think you fisrt need to educate yourself enough to have something to respond to- some way to DO something that is real and quantifiable. Certainly, if a ll we do is criticize, there is no way to fail, very safe way to live life, but in the end have you made an impact or have you realized someone elses ideals in lieu of your own? Without some degree of idealism there would be no parking lots, no highways, no public space, no car, and none of the nuances we’ve come to find comfort in within society. There are a lot more people out there making money by telling other people what they can’t do according to someone elses ideals or concepts than those adapting to and circumnavigating adversity.

    In summary, I think theres a very thin line between ‘whining’ and ‘challenging the status quo.’ I’d like to see way more of the latter, especilly with some basis in a real topic or issue, and way less of the former.

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