On Reflection, Education, and Appreciation…
It seems “We should…” always is trumped by “I have to…”
The idea of “should” is usually derived from a level of inward reflection that arrives at a conclusion of some sort of pathway to improvement. Unfortunately, the “I have to” is often the latest short term squeaky wheel that is forced upon us, demands our immediate attention, and bullies the “We should’s” of professional growth, social interaction, continuing education, cultural development on to the back burner to be dealt with later. I’m not sure if this condition is avoidable. But, when the “We should…” finally happens and everyone participates, it needs to be appreciated… maybe even celebrated. And the person who continues to believe in the idea and manages to convince the rest of us that this particular activity they have organized is worth forsaking our current project crisis of “whatever” should be congratulated and their efforts recognized.
Each year Melissa Ruth, in our Valley office, sets up tours of local parks. Their value from a professional education and growth standpoint are unquestionable. Their benefits in business and client development are subtle but just as valuable. We get to see, first hand, how others have approached design challenges with varying degrees of success or failure. In the vacuum of information, we exercise our deductive reasoning and critical thinking muscles to extrapolate reasons decisions were made, who made them, and the events that led up to their application. Obviously, we look at the real world failures with a critical eye and try to learn from them so we can avoid similar circumstances in our own future projects. So many things can “go wrong” in a design. To think of every variable and “what if” is impossible. So, when given the opportunity, we should never forget to take note when a design works exactly the way it should and try to figure out why. It’s an illogical concept, when you think about it, to believe we can judge a design with such little information. Our conclusions may be completely incorrect (and they probably are), but the exercise in arriving at those conclusions will only strengthen our own designs.
So, thank you Melissa, for sticking with it and helping the rest of us set aside our daily “I have to’s” for just a little while to become better landscape architects and consultants.
Written by Erik Smith, Principal