Brenden Frederick, AIA
President, AIA Maryland
I want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your AIA Maryland President for 2017 and I look forward to working with all of you during this year and beyond. In the words of Bob Dylan “The times, they are a-changing”, and as architects, we have the ability and responsibility to be stewards for our future. We wear many hats, one championing the business of architecture which allows us to provide for ourselves and our families, another may be for promoting diversity in our profession, and yet another may be for championing green building principles. Our lives have us being pulled in so many directions, that while we may have strong opinions on what changes are needed, the weight of those hats have us using phrasing like “should do” or “there is not enough time” or “someone else will do it”. Believe me I get it — being an architect with a loving wife and son at home, it is hard enough to manage the work-life balance, let alone take on other responsibilities, especially those that seem impossible to solve.
I recently had the privilege of attending a seminar with Joe Tye, and one of the more interesting comments was “everything that is possible today, was once impossible, which means that the impossible today will be possible in the future.” This reminds me of one of my more favorite lines: “How do you eat an entire cake, one bite at a time”. My take away from both of these is that anything that we are willing to work for is possible, and rather than fearing the enormity of the issue, we need to focus on one small thing that can be done to chip away at it. If we look to others to do for us, then we may be waiting a long time for anything to happen. We need to act ourselves.
I challenge each of us to identify the one issue that we are passionate about, and through our love of architecture and professional skill set, identify how can we have an impact. This sounds daunting I know, but if we don’t do it, who will? Each of us has the capacity to improve the world in which we live. Some may elect to take a leadership role in AIA or a community group like Rotary. Some may choose to serve on a local government board or venture into politics; still others may support causes financially or participate in local community events. While I personally have had the opportunity to perform a number of these tasks, the one that I feel most proud of on a daily basis is also the simplest. I make a point to pick up that piece of trash on the sidewalk or in front of a building, or on the beach. Last weekend my wife, son and I spent the entire day at Assateague National Seashore. On the way back, as we drove in the sand along the waves, we started noticing a number of mylar balloons. They were probably released in celebration but now were stranded in the sand and had become a hazard to the environment. We decided to stop our ride to pick them up. Our family day at the beach became a fun family adventure that cost us an additional 30 minutes or so, but easily was the highlight of the day. The point is, my love for architecture directly impacted my appreciation for the world in which we live. While picking up the trash doesn’t require a stamp and signature, it’s impact is no less impactful.
If we want to lead and determine the direction we are headed, then we must be willing to roll up our sleeves, walk the walk, and pick up the trash.