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Giving Back [Land8x8 Video]

Anchalee (Annie) Phaosawasdi of Hargreaves Jones used the platform of the Land8x8 Lightning Talks to share her experiences giving back to her community as a landscape architect and challenges the profession to create time to do so as well. While most of the projects that landscape architects serve their communities and neighborhoods, they are not always as rewarding as the larger-scale projects that are “saving the planet” or projects that are immediately rewarding.

Annie shares ways that she and her colleagues engage the community to give back and increase awareness and diversity of the profession. One such program was Gear-Up by the New York Botanical Garden that targets high school and first year college students to learn about the environment, program and projects of the Botanical Gardens, and career paths related to the environment, including landscape architecture. Another collaboration was with TIDES with Brooklyn Bridge Park and students ages 14-18. This program brings students together to complete weekly community service projects that focus on ecology, conservation, and sustainability.

Image: Hargreaves Jones

Time, rather than money, may be more valuable and impactful for landscape architects to give back. Some ideas may include establishing think tanks, grant opportunities, externship programs, continuing education stipend, and designated research time. However, as Annie mentions, not every firm has the luxury to create such programs.

But what if we were to start small? In comparison to innovative programs in tech like Google’s “20% Time”, where 20% of paid time is dedicated to employees working on their passion projects to benefit the company, landscape architects could start with a “2% Culture” or even a “1% Culture”.

“What if per every one week, we get one paid hour that staff can dedicate to a passion project?” Annie asks. Encouraging this concept with staff could open the doors to collaboration and getting them and your firm involved in a rewarding cause or an opportunity that may have not existed otherwise. A win-win scenario could result from taking on projects like these for both the employee and the firm. When employees find purpose in their work, they tend to be highly motivated and happier in their role.

Consider creating a culture of giving back in your firm – it will help your community and  will likely enhance your firm’s work and culture as well!

This video was filmed on September 9, 2021 in Brooklyn, NY as part of the Land8x8 Lightning Talks sponsored by Anova Furnishings.

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Published in Blog, Cover Story, Featured
Student blogger and landscape designer, Kim Ferrara is a New England based landscape architect in training. With a passion and focus in high end residential design, Kim's work aims to hone in on social and ecological context and complexities. After receiving recognition by Land8 during the 2020 Social Media Awards, Kim has been a social media manager for Land8 for over a year. In her spare time, she blogs her activity and growth as a budding professional as well as emerging critical theory around landscapes, technology, capitalism, and sociology.

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