Grassroots 2021 Recap: Bring it Home, Part 1/2

Cover image by AIA National

Architect, Advocate, Activist. Three words AIA members are called to be.

Last week, I had the honor of attending the annual Grassroots convention hosted virtually by AIA National’s 2021 President Elect, Dan Hart, FAIA. With the theme of “Bring it Home,” this four day leadership event focused on skillsets we as architects use daily to define the value we bring to our communities.

As I provide this recap (which will now be in two parts due to length – a sign of a good conference, no?), please keep in mind below is a personal account of knowledge gained from the conference and is not at all inclusive of everything that was discussed. I would highly suggest AIA member’s take part in this wonderful event in the future.

Day 1: Meet your Legislators

In preparation of our time meeting with Joe Bliss, from Senator Rounds team, and Adam Wek and Senator John Thune, our advocacy team reviewed the documentation provided by AIA National discussing the upcoming potential for a Green Building Infrastructure bill.

We made the most of our time by describing what architects in South Dakota do — we affect our communities by upholding the health, safety and welfare of those who inhabit the built environment. We encouraged all parties to include buildings within the description of infrastructure (not just roads, etc…), in particular schools, rural hospitals, and federally funded affordable housing.

We also stated South Dakota has already seen the value investing in sustainable design practices through Rounds 2008 Senate Bill 188, currently being amended through SB 134 this legislative session. With an upfront investment in sustainable design, the government will be able to maintain and operate these buildings 50 years or more at a lower energy cost to the taxpayers. See: OSE Green Building Report CY2020 and AIA South Dakota Advocacy in Pierre 2021 for those efforts.

Mr. Bliss, Mr. Wek, and Senator Thune were incredibly responsive to our questions and comments and encouraged us to continue to be in touch as we hear more about the Green Infrastructure bill.

Through the Grassroots convention, AIA National coordinates this opportunity to meet our legislators every other year, and AIA South Dakota has been taking part for quite some time.

AIA SD Secretary/Treasurer Jeff Nelson shared this excellent photo (circa 1999) of AIA SD members (from left) Jim Heroux, AIA, Jeff Nelson, AIA, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, Sandy Dickenson, AIA, and the late Ward Whitwam, FAIA, who was serving as AIA SD’s Executive Director. At the Time, Heroux, Nelson and Dickenson formed AIA SD’s Executive Board and were in Washington D.C., at an AIA Grassroots conference.

Day 2: Design Thinking- Tackling Challenges of the Built Environment – Dan Roam

“The one that holds the pen, holds the authority.” Dan Roam is an author, creative director, strategist and owner of Digital Roam – a company focused on unlocking innovated design through visual thinking.

As architects, we solve complex problems through drawings. In a world of uncertainty and anxiety, visualizations can be clarifying, reassuring, and human. He called drawing a thinking process, rather than a artistic process and encouraged each of us to draw our own process to solve one big goal we would like to meet this year.

Below are three AIA South Dakota submissions describing our individual big ideas.

Allison Dvorak, AIA SD
Sienna Wegehaupt, AIA SD
Angela Lammers, AIA SD Executive Director

To create these graphics to visually solve problems, follow these easy steps:

  1. Fold your paper into four equal quadrants.
  2. WRITE YOUR NAME. Clear the big blank space. State your big idea.
  3. WHO and WHAT. Draw yourself!
  4. IMPACT and OUTCOME. What are the measurables of the big idea?
  5. PLAN. How will this get accomplished?

If you are need of a big idea, see all images submitted to the conference here: AIA National Flickr

In a visually dominated world, understanding vision as a process will help you simplify the issue and lead with people’s eyes for their minds to follow.

This process was also used by AIA to develop a strategic plan of how to address issues facing our profession today: Social Justice, Covid and Climate Change.

Stay tuned later this week for Grassroots Recap Part 2, including Stacey Abrams on Equity and Diversity and Katherine Hayhoe on Climate Change!

One Reply to “Grassroots 2021 Recap: Bring it Home, Part 1/2”

  1. +LOve seeing the pic. I have been doing this longer than I thought. I think Grassroots is the best event that AIA sponsors. Sorry it had to be virtual.

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