A new year has begun! Downtown Richmond, the central business district, has come alive with people traveling back and forth to Capitol Square, and the adjacent legislative offices. People waiting in line quietly at the legislative office buildings while others are marching with throngs of people, not so quietly!!  All hoping to make their opinions known to Virginia’s legislators.

Working in downtown Richmond for a number of years, this is the scene I have witnessed for many years. It marks the beginning of a New Year and a new Virginia legislative session. Frankly, I have really never given much thought as to its purpose and its importance; the fact is that I saw it more as a nuisance.

Over the past year, its importance and purpose have become very evident as I (we) have benefited from the hard work that the Joint Legislative Committee does.  (Current members are: Ed Gillikin, AIA, Stephen Weisensale, AIA, Lauren Sughrue, Associate AIA, and Rebecca Edmunds, AIA.) The Committee, working along with our lobbyist, has spent numerous hours reviewing, vetting, and discussing legislation related to the profession, climate change, resiliency, and other issues of importance. These efforts have benefited both citizens of the Commonwealth as well as the profession. This herculean endeavor by a small team of dedicated individuals is amazing.

 However, it made me wonder how much different things could/would be if:

  1. We were all advocates for the power of good design and its impact on the built environment.
  2. We were all advocates for the value that an Architect brings to a project and the built environment as a whole.
  3. We were all advocates for the influences of what a good design has on the human experience.

If indeed “knowledge is our currency” then it’s time to start sharing that “knowledge” with others and those who are making important decisions that impact our lives, the ecology environment, the built environment, the human experience, and the very profession which we practice.  It’s time to take action.

Change occurs when motivated individuals take action to improve conditions, solve problems, make social changes, improve environmental conditions, make changes to our lives, and change the status quo. As I have discovered, we should not be afraid to have reasonable debates and conversations as to the impact of any particular issue.  These collaborative discussions and discourse along with differing opinions and experiences can enrich the world in which we live and our individual lives.

I hope in the coming months we each find how we can become a part of these conversations ….. in our communities, our local AIA components, and AIA Virginia. These conversations have the ability to change the world in which we live and practice in. So let’s start talking!

Mitch Rowland, AIA
2023 President
AIA Virginia