Editor's Note

Stephanie Stroud 

January and February are important months because they are filled with reminders to continually celebrate minority landscape architects and their contribution to our profession. It is a time to think about our work in and with diverse communities. Martin Luther King Day this past January 18th, Alice Walker’s birthday on February 9th, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th, and Frederick Douglas’ birthday on February 14th are all days to remind us about the importance of equality and civil rights. 

In ASLA’s 2015 Survey of Graduating Students, only 1% of graduating landscape architecture students identified as Black, 8% as Hispanic, and 20% as Asian or Pacific Islander. While diversity is increasing slowly, the majority of the respondents identified as White (68%). This is significant, since our profession will not reflect the population in years to come. In 2043, the US is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time. Minorities, now 37% of the population, are estimated to make up 57% of the population in the year 2060. The communities that landscape architects work in are already culturally diverse, and in order to best serve and understand our country’s increasingly diverse communities, and remain relevant, landscape architects must hail from those communities.


In response to the under-representation of minority groups in landscape architecture, ASLA has held three yearly summits. At the 2015 diversity summit, landscape architects focused several key areas, with a special focus on strategies for recruiting students in grades K-12 to the profession and establishing successful MLA programs: raising general public awareness (with an emphasis on minority parents); early exposure to the profession; and mentorship.


Doing our part to help educate the next generation of landscape architects in diverse communities will help our profession adapt to the changes that lie ahead, and will strengthen the profession by increasing our numbers with talented individuals with a range of bright ideas and skills. Imagine if we had another Hattie Carthan—once represented as a white woman in a children’s story—she was an African-American who lead efforts to save and plant street trees, and while doing so created empowerment and emancipation within a deteriorating block in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn, NY. In the article in December 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, Planting Civil Rights, we learn how important is it to have representatives from the communities we work in, and how people like Hattie Carthan can make a lasting impact for generations to follow. 


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