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President’s Message: A message from Jane Welsh, OALA President

President’s Message
When Ground editor Glyn Bowerman asked me to write this message, he started with what has become a standard greeting of this time: “Hope you are doing okay” and added “during this Great Unpleasantness.” “Unpleasantness” as we experience a constant underlying stress about health, livelihood, isolation and how that has dramatically interrupted everything about the flow of our daily lives. It also describes well the pain evoked by the unjust murder of George Floyd and the exposure of our collective complacency towards racism. 

Landscape Architects role in public health and resilience
How do we stay grounded and connected to our creative flow during this time? One way is to connect to nature. Much has been written about this lately, and has highlighted the important role of landscape architecture and our power as designers to promote health and recovery.

A recent CNN article entitled Parks Matter More Than Ever During a Time of Sickness articulates this well. Richard le Brasseur (Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Dalhousie) reminds us of the legacy of Olmstead and how his understanding of the connections between space, disease control, and public health influenced his design of urban park systems that not only allowed stagnant waterways to flow but immersed visitors in “restorative and therapeutic natural landscapes.”

First Virtual Conference and AGM
The OALA has adapted to our ‘new normal’ and successfully delivered keynote presentations in May, and held our AGM on June 23rd, where over 270 members registered. We also announced our Awards virtually for the first time, with a wider audience receiving the news. You will read more about the award recipients in this issue. I want thank our amazing staff who worked tirelessly to make this transition a success.

‘Why Ontario needs a Practice Act for Landscape Architects’
I encourage you to refer to and distribute this one page summary about how a practice act would reduce red tape and risk of litigation, ensure ethical practices, and allow Ontario landscape architects to have similar standing as the majority of US states. It has been sent to several key MPPs and circulated to the membership (see April and May Progress Posts). Please share it to make politicians aware of what landscape architects do and why we need a practice act.

Stay well and remember that the OALA is here to support you.

Jane Welsh, OALA, FCSLA
OALA President
[email protected]