2017 Year-End President's Report

Dear Members,

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We entered 2017 with a changing political environment and uncertainty surrounding its impact on the building industry, the environment and the profession. With that change and uncertainty in the air, the AIA Maine Board of Directors worked together to outline our Statement of Principles.

Statement of AIA Maine Principles

AIA Maine will always work towards a vision of a better future for our planet, our communities, and our members. In particular, AIA Maine is focused on promoting the values and resources that make Maine a singular and extraordinary place.

AIA Maine is committed to the following principles:

  • Advancement of sustainable practices that mitigate the effect of building on the environment, through such models as COTE, the 2030 initiative and the impact potential of each practitioner;
  • Fostering an inclusive and diverse Maine architectural community, and serving and seeking to enhance the well-being of all persons regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation;
  • Providing a Maine-based vehicle for the education of new architects (as we now have in UMA), offering continued education opportunities to all practitioners, educating our clients and the public, and advocating for the development of new technologies, methods and policies that lead to healthful environments;
  • Promotion of healthy, safe and nurturing communities, starting at the local level;
  • Participation in beneficial development of the state's infrastructure, physical and cultural, building walls that welcome as well as protect, and bridges that connect.

Lastly, we demand principle-based policy from officials at all levels and integrity in our practice of architecture. AIA Maine is committed to hearing the voices of its members, and advocating for their interests in local, regional and global arenas.

 Advocacy

Taking these principles to heart, in March, Jesse Thompson, Jeannette Schram and I traveled to Washington DC to represent AIA Maine at the Grassroots Leadership and Advocacy Conference. While there, we had the opportunity to meet with Maine Senators Collins and King as well as staff members from Representative Pingree’s office. We were able to discuss some of the issues that are currently top priority for our membership, including:

  • Support for affordable health care, including strengthening the Individual and Small Business insurance markets, which is what serves the majority of Architects of Maine;
  • Support for Historic Tax Credit and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Cantwell / Hatch bill).
  • Support for Federal 2030 Sec. 433 Energy Policy legislation.
  • Rejecting the Travel Ban and Immigration Limits.

All of the Congresspersons and staffers we met with were enthusiastic about the role architects play in our society, and we hope to continue the conversations with each of them, as we remain vigilant to the changes afoot.

The important role architects play in our society became alarmingly clear this fall as we watched numerous hurricanes and wild fires ravage communities across our country. As the basic work of getting the impacted communities back on their feet is underway, it is now time to have some serious deliberation about the state of our human ecology practices.

The increase in the strength and frequency of catastrophic storms should be impetus for a catalytic call to action and reconsideration. As architects, we do spend a considerable amount of time thinking about the importance of sustainability and about the necessity of ever-fortified codes and ordinance.

It is clear that the ideals we strive for in the standards we set for our structures, in the concepts we embrace in the way we organize our communities, and most succinctly, the responsibility we bear through sustainable practice, are not just abstract enactments of ideals in the vague recognition of making things better for future generations. No, this is painfully real and someday is now, if not yesterday. If there was ever a doubt that building codes are one of society’ s basic protections, one only has to observe which structures survived these storms. Those built to new standards implemented after Andrew and Katrina remain standing, alongside the ruins of structures grandfathered to lesser standards. Any thoughts that community planning and zoning are gratuitous folly need only to look at the dangerous laissez faire policies in some towns around Houston that allowed hazardous chemical (subject to explosion and life-threatening gas dissemination) plants be located alongside hospitals and schools.

Still, too often, these things are seen as too expensive, inconvenient, or bureaucracy enhancing.  The existence of nihilistic Governors and lawmakers who use power and lobbying efforts to push back, prevent or overturn these life-sustaining needs of the society they are called to protect is profoundly irresponsible and reckless.

What architects do is consequential. We must unapologetically and aggressively push harder. For over 100 years, AIA Maine has been the collective voice of Maine architects. As architects, it is up to us to represent the interest of our profession and your involvement adds to our voice. Thank you for your membership!

Sincerely,
Kay Stevens-Rosa, AIA
017 & 2018 President

 

 

Jeannette Schram