BAC Students Participate in ASLA’s Advocacy Day

School of Landscape Architecture Students head to Washington D.C. to raise visibility of profession

Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Capitol Building, Washington D.C.; Photo by Allison Postlethwait

Marcus Cantu and Anahita Kianous, students in the BAC's School of Landscape Architecture, will be joining forces with advocates from across the country in Washington D.C. on April 22 to raise awareness of policy issues important to the landscape architecture profession. Each year, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) hosts Advocacy Day, an annual lobbying event on Capitol Hill. While in Washington D.C., landscape architects participate in congressional visits, striving to raise the visibility of the profession with legislators and key staff, while educating them on the many ways that landscape architects provide solutions to a myriad of problems the country faces.

The trip is a networking and learning opportunity for Marcus and Anahita, as well as a chance to represent the BAC and the landscape architecture profession in a national setting. The students are accompanied by ASLA Vice President of Government Affairs and BAC Instructor Thomas Doolittle, as well as Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) representatives Tim Nickerson, president; Cheri Ruane, president-elect; and Jeanne Lukenda, trustee. The group will attend training sessions where they will be prepped on the issues to be discussed with the federal legislators and how to make persuasive pitches. The following day, after one more review session, it will be time to head over to the Senate and House offices for the scheduled meetings, where Marcus and Anahita will play active roles in making the pitches and joining into the discussion.

"I am thrilled that we will be able to take two BAC students to participate in Advocacy Day this year," said Doolittle, who teaches a course called Public Policy and Environmental Ethics for Sustainable Communities at the BAC. "I am sure that BAC students Marcus and Anahita will represent the profession, the College, and themselves exceptionally well. The experience is a real team-building opportunity for all of the landscape architects involved, and I hope that Marcus and Anahita's strong participation will create the potential for more students to be involved in the future."

In addition to making the profession of landscape architecture known to legislators, Advocacy Day is important because it gives landscape architects a chance to advocate for the projects they do and demonstrate the importance of the design of public places. It influences the way decisions are made around spending federal money through the legislation practitioners are advocating. It can also serve as a personal growth opportunity for all landscape architects, for public presentation and interaction is an important part of being a design professional.

"I am excited to attend Advocacy Day this year, which is just ahead of my graduation," said Anahita Kianous, Master of Landscape Architecture candidate. "With so many advocates joining together for this empowering event about landscape architecture, I believe it will connect me to a larger movement and allow me to learn more about my career. As we directly interact with our legislators, I hope I can share the important messages that came from my thesis topic about the coastal zone."

The BAC students and faculty who attend this event look forward to sharing and implementing what they learn with the community upon their return.