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Quarterly News 2015 Issue 2

Letter from the President

Hello again to all of our fellow NMASLA members and friends! We’ve had an exciting spring, with even more great events on the horizon…

Back in April, members of your executive committee traveled to Washington, D.C. for ASLA Advocacy Day.  Although we arrived just a few days too late for the cherry blossoms, beautiful spring weather made it easy to spend the day walking Capitol Hill and meeting with our legislators about the importance of federal programs like the Transportation Alternatives Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  We discussed how we as landscape architects access these funds -- thereby contributing to the health and resilience of our local communities -- and why this is so important.  Of course, the best way to get this message across is to experience it first-hand, which is why we look forward to inviting these legislators to future NMASLA events and site tours.

Jitka Dekojova and Victor Trujillo accept Advocacy Chapter of the Year Award from ASLA National President Richard Zweifel

Jitka Dekojova and Victor Trujillo accept Advocacy Chapter of the Year Award from ASLA National President Richard Zweifel

The BIG news from D.C., however, was the announcement that New Mexico – once again – was selected as the Advocacy Chapter of the Year!  We’re doing a great job getting the word out to elected officials and our allied professions about the value of our work, and we’re on track to keep that momentum going.  In fact, Albuquerque has been selected by ASLA National to host the annual Advocacy Summit this September!  We’ll have a great opportunity to show off local projects to landscape architects from around the country, and to talk about our efforts to promote landscape architecture.  I’d like to thank everyone who has put in all the hard work to make this happen.

Of course, in addition to that hard work, we have a lot of fun on the Executive Committee.  It’s a great way to network and get to know other landscape architects, to promote the profession, and to generally be a positive force on behalf of the membership (not to mention, the occasional free food and drink!).  I’d like to encourage all of you to consider getting involved at the ExCom level, whether it’s your first time, or even if you’ve been here before.  Elections will be coming up in a few short months, so start thinking now about throwing your name into the hat.  I promise it’s worth it.

Finally, Q2 is approaching quickly!  We will be touring the recent work at Carlito Springs in Tijeras on Friday, June 5.  Not only should it be a fun afternoon, but it will earn you 5 CEUs, so be sure and register here today!  All the rain we’ve been fortunate to receive this spring promises a beautiful, verdant hike along the new trail.  What better way to spend a Friday afternoon?  And in case you’re not doing so already, be sure to follow New Mexico ASLA  on Facebook, and @NMASLA on Twitter, to receive live updates and information about this, and future events.

Hope to see you all at Q2!

Victor Trujillo, PLA, ASLA

this quarter's Membership milestones!

Eric Bernard - 15 Years

Tamara Baer - 20 Years


Get 5 pre-approved continuing education credits at our Q2 event on June 5th.  Register here by June 3rd.  FREE for members, $20 for Non-members.

Spring-fed gardens at Carlito Springs

Spring-fed gardens at Carlito Springs


NMASLA and ACE Leadership are collaborating to bring a Pop Up Playground to the Sawmill District in Fall of 2015 - giving Design Professionals an opportunity to work with High School Students on a project that educates about the meaningfulness of maintaining open spaces, the benefits of community building and the value of play in the development of creativity while giving children in an underserved area of Albuquerque a different opportunity to play.  Click here for more info and check back this summer for more details.



a park above: a place where all kids play! (coming soon...)

Laurie Firor, PLA, ASLA

Concept Rendering - Consensus Planning, Inc.

Concept Rendering - Consensus Planning, Inc.

On October 12, 2013, there was cause for celebration!  A groundbreaking ceremony in Rio Rancho was attended by a myriad of stakeholders with a wide range of interests in the event’s focus: A Park Above.  This all-inclusive 6-acre park, in southern Rio Rancho adjacent to the East Branch Channel, is designed to a higher level of accessibility than standard ADA requirements so that physical and social barriers are eliminated and people of all ages with disabilities will be able to enjoy the park and have the same opportunities for play as those without disabilities.

A Park Above ...before.

A Park Above ...before.

The event began with the Eagle (butterfly) Dance by Cochiti Pueblo members followed by a welcoming by Jay Hart, Director of the City’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department.  Mayor Thomas Swisstack provided opening remarks.  Governor Susana Martinez, State Representative Tim Lewis, City Councilor Timothy Crum, and Sandoval County Commissioner Glenn Walters were all honored guest speakers.  There were numerous additional elected officials as well as a plethora of community members in attendance.   Jennie Schulte-Baca Riedl, President/CEO of A Park Above, Inc., provided closing remarks before a grand gold-shovel groundbreaking by numerous children anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play together in the future park.  Considered the first universally accessible park in New Mexico, this all-inclusive park was designed by Consensus Planning, Inc. (in collaboration with Huitt Zollars, Inc.; The Response Group, Inc.; and Faith Okuma, PLA), and will set the accessibility standard for all future parks in New Mexico.

Although the benefits (i.e. physical, emotional, cognitive) of recreational open space, especially those including a well-equipped playground, have long been praised, the perks of such places have often only been available to children; and those children were expected to be agile enough to climb ladders and hang from monkey bars along with the keen social skills to freely navigate the space.  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 established guidelines to ensure a wheelchair may traverse a site, but it only identifies the bare minimum to achieve accessibility.  Still, it brought attention to the necessity that public play spaces should be designed for all ages and abilities to play together and not just near each other.  Vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, visual, and auditory experiences as well as features to accommodate wheelchairs and assistance for those who cannot sit up on their own must be included to make all feel as if they belong on the playground.  This is not to say that traditional playground features such as swings and slides are obsolete; rather, these features need to be incorporated alongside wheelchair platform swings and other accessible features so that those of all abilities are able to play together rather than be segregated based on abilities.

These ideals set the visionary goals for A Park Above: A Place Where All Kids Play!  This is a park for all people, young and old, and of all abilities.  A combination park and playground, the landscaped, sloping site will be fully accessible and will include fun and therapeutic play experiences designed to meet typical playground expectations as well as the needs of people with sensory, developmental, cognitive, and physical disabilities as well as a combination of disabilities.  Parallel, group, and/or solitary play needs are addressed for those visitors needing such accommodations.  What sets this park above all other parks is the deliberate integration of play equipment, shade structures, furnishings, finishes, landscaping, and technology designed to address the senses for safe navigation and stimulation.  Sensory stimulation is a key feature, so colorful, eye-catching objects for both form and function occur throughout the park and there is even an area dedicated to music play.  The park design includes environments designed to accommodate a variety of play experiences to encourage socialization, creativity, and imaginative play.  Multiple areas with numerous play equipment components offer slides (traditional and embankment styles), swings (traditional belts, bucket, adaptive molded, wheelchair platform, and group styles), climbers, spinners, rockers, balancing, tunnels, small skills play, sensory features, court and table games, and even a splashpad…and that’s just in Phase 1!  Horseshoes and bocce courts, labyrinth, dog park, fitness circuit, and an amphitheater with custom A/V features are planned for Phase 2.  Many of the play areas have synthetic surfacing with integrated anti-static technology.  Numerous shaded areas for seating and gathering is essential to meet user needs and occurs throughout the park.   All of the park’s features are connected via a wide loop path with painted edging; tactile edging is also provided to identify when approaching an active play area.  Unlike most city parks, A Park Above will have bathrooms, which will also include adult size changing tables.  The entire play area is surrounded by perimeter fencing with gates that feature accessible locking mechanisms.  A parking lot, outside the fencing, provides 73 spaces, 25% of which are accessible spaces which supports the City’s desire to consider this park to be an outdoor community center.  The park will serve as a common ground for all members of the community; a destination where people of all abilities can have fun, explore and discover, be challenged, and be safe in a beautiful outdoor environment.

A process that began with an RFP issued by the City of Rio Rancho on December 23, 2012, and awarded in March 2013 is still a labor of love in process.  Extensive research was conducted and numerous meetings were held with various community stakeholders and experts to ensure the needs of a broad range of disabilities and abilities would be met by the park’s abundance of amenities.  Final Inspection for Phase 1 was held on May 1, 2015, but there’s still much work to be done before the park opens to the public.  Phase 2 construction documents are soon to be implemented, but additional funding is needed to realize the full intention of the park’s design.  Stretching the money has been one of the major challenges.  The City received approximately $2 million from State, County, and City funding resources which is not nearly enough for the size and scope of this park.  Private contributions accounted for another $100,000 and an additional $50,000 came from the non-profit organization A Park Above, Inc.  Over $100,000 came via discounts and donations from the park’s amenities vendors.  Approximately $400,000 of the funding is from very generous donations, both materials and labor. The City has been rather creative with designating some tasks to staff as well as volunteer labor.  Jay Hart and Jennie Riedl, as well as Dyane Sonier and John Finley of the City of Rio Rancho, are to be lauded for their incredible diligence in gathering the necessary funds and materials when traditional resources were not available.  Even the general contractor for Phase 1, BCL Enterprises, has rallied for resources to keep the construction moving forward.  A Park Above’s list of donors is extensive as nearly every inch of the park can be attributed to a donation of some kind.  As was apparent at the groundbreaking, this is a space the community has been needing and it’s been an inspiring and rewarding experience to see the community support the park by joining together to seek the assistance needed to make the park a reality to be enjoyed for generations.

At the groundbreaking event, Governor Martinez shared a childhood memory of being at the playground while her sister sat at the sidelines in her wheelchair.  They were sisters that never had the opportunity to play at a playground together.  In addition to active recreation, kids of all ages and abilities need to have spaces for building leisure, social, and vocational skills.  With places like A Park Above, everyone will have the opportunity to play, learn, and grow together.  As Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research!”

If you’d like to contribute to the future of A Park Above, please contact Jay Hart:

mid-year meeting wrap up / trustees report

Chris Green, PLA, ASLA

NMASLA Trustee

Advocacy Day

Advocacy Day Selfie

Advocacy Day Selfie

On April 23rd, the New Mexico delegation of Greg Miller, Victor Trujillo, Jitka Dekojova, and myself visited the office of Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Although our legislators were busy with all sorts of political stuff, we carried our message to their very engaged staff members. Although space doesn’t allow for me to get into too much detail about these issues, the key legislative items discussed were:

  • Help Communities Implement Active Transportation Choices – The Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act (TAPIA, S.705), makes it easier for states and local governments to use TAP for community projects, and supports the reauthorization and full funding of TAP.
  • Promote Public Recreational Spaces and Facilities – The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF, S.890), would permanently re-authorize the LWCF, and fully fund the program at $900 million.
  • Invest in the Next Century of National Parks – The National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge calls for Congress to pass legislation that will leverage private sector donations, up to $100 million for signature NPS projects and programs.

If you’d like to learn more about these initiatives and how you can provide your support please contact any Ex-Com member. Also, great news for our Chapter – thanks to the hard work of so many, and specifically Rob Loftis, our Chapter was selected as the Advocacy Chapter of the Year. Rob, and others, have worked tirelessly to promote our profession and our message to our elected officials.


Joint Statement on Diversity

At the meeting of the Presidents Council in 2014, ASLA initiated a discussion regarding the lack of diversity in the landscape architecture profession and shared the results of the first ASLA Diversity Summit.  The Presidents Council organizations (ASLA, CLARB, CELA, LAAB, CSLA, and LAF) shared the concern and identified next steps, including development of a joint statement and establishment of goals/benchmarks.  ASLA prepared and distributed a first draft joint statement, in the summer of 2014 for input from the Presidents Council organizations. The draft was also shared for input/feedback at the second Diversity Summit.  The final draft was shared with the Presidents Council at its January 2015 meeting. All of the organizations (except the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, since the statement is U.S.-centric) agreed to take the joint statement to their boards for action. 

The statement commits each organization “to increase resources and actions that recruit minority students to landscape architecture programs and help mentor graduates through licensure and their careers.” The statement also established the goal of, by 2025, achieving a profile of the profession that mirrors 2012 population-share estimates. Following a topical presentation by Nancy Somerville and Terry Poltrack, the BOT voted to approve the statement titled “Mirroring the Nation:  Landscape Architecture and the Future of the Profession.” 


UN Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is an international, voluntary, corporate responsibility initiative based on 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.  It is “... a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices ... The U.N. Global Compact works toward the vision of a sustainable and inclusive global economy which delivers lasting benefits to people, communities, and markets.”  Given ASLA’s core values and focus on sustainability, the Society is already well aligned with the 10 principles and would have little difficulty describing how we are addressing these core principles.  The benefits of participation include expanded visibility and recognition for the Society, therefore, the BOT voted to approve ASLA’s participation in the U.N. Global Compact.


Vice President Elections

Victor Trujillo, Chris Green & Greg Miller on The Hill.

Victor Trujillo, Chris Green & Greg Miller on The Hill.

After presentations from candidates for various Vice Presidential appointments, the BOT elected Mike Stanley, ASLA as VP of Communications; Dave Cutter, ASLA as VP of Education; and Robin Gyorgyfalvy, FASLA as VP of Government Affairs. Presentations were also made by your candidates for President-Elect, Shawn Kelly, FASLA and Vaughn Rinner, FASLA. I encourage you all to review their candidate information and take the time to cast your vote.

Students and Emerging Professionals

Students and emerging professionals were a major topic of discussion for the BOT as there is a continuing downward trend on membership for those 2 categories. Membership is one of the three big “M’s” for the Society and our operating budget. Membership, Magazine, and Meetings are the three largest income generators for the Society, which provides the resources for the many programs ASLA provides to our membership. The 2014 SWOT analysis identified a number of issues of concern related to students and emerging professionals, including: declining student membership; low percentage of student members continuing as members after graduation; inadequate recruitment and engagement with students and emerging professionals; younger members’ lack of engagement/ownership with ASLA; and membership loss due to non-joining Millennials.  To begin to address these concerns, the Executive Committee reviewed: the status and trends in membership for students and emerging professionals (defined as one to five years after graduation from first professional degree program); information regarding the needs and interests of students and emerging professionals; and current and potential ASLA programs and services that relate to these member categories.

In its discussion, the Executive Committee identified a number of issues/concerns as well as opportunities/suggestions for addressing these issues. NMASLA is planning to establish a committee to look at this issue with the lens on our local situation. If you’re interested and have opinions to better engage and retain students and emerging professionals, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact any of our Ex-Com members and we’ll make sure to get you involved.

1st Annual Kickball Game

Despite the near constant complaints of bad backs, replaced hips/knees, and tender hamstrings, the BOT kickball team pulled a stunning upset of the much younger and more enthusiastic Chapter Presidents team in the 1st Annual BOT/CPC Kickball Game. By a convincing score of 3-0, the BOT took home the coveted Silver Cup (really just the home plate with our names scribbled on it). Hopefully the year layoff before Mid-Year 2016 will allow the BOT to recover from their aches and pains … and for the CPC to practice more!

Please feel free to ask if you’d like additional information on these topics or any other ASLA issues.

World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) was a success

 Thank you for making World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) such a success!  This April we reached nearly 4,000 posts with the hashtag #WLAM2015 in more than 30 countries.  These posts introduced landscape architecture to approximately three million people worldwide.  Submissions came from individuals, businesses big and small, and organizations across the globe, making WLAM a truly global celebration of the profession.

Because of the success of WLAM, ASLA wants to continue the “Designed by a Landscape Architect” social media campaign past April.  This campaign is a great way to show off your work or the work of your firm.

However, because World Landscape Architecture Month is technically over, ASLA is going to transition from using #WLAM2015 to #ThisIsLandArch. Please use #ThisIsLandArch when you post any picture with the Designed by a Landscape Architect cards.

Participating in the #ThisIsLandArch campaign will expose the work of yourself, firm and NMASLA to a larger audience and promote the profession at the same time.  Please keep posting pictures of your favorite landscape-architect-designed spaces with #ThisIsLandArch and ASLA will feature them across its social media channels.

Again, thank you for making WLAM such as success helping raise awareness of landscape architecture.  We hope this campaign will continue to raise the visibility of the profession and promote the work of our members and landscape architects around the world.

Please contact for any questions about this campaign or how to participate.

How to participate in #ThisIsLandArch:

1.     Download and print out a “Designed by a Landscape Architect” card from the ASLA website.

2.     Go to your favorite landscape-architect-designed space

3.     Take a picture of it with the "Designed by a Landscape Architect” card

Upload your image to social media with #ThisIsLandArch

Project Desert Canopy - A multi-state project funded by the USDA Forest Service to conduct urban forestry ecosystem services assessments in partnering communities.  View the webpage here:

An interesting article about the socio-economic benefits of trees and urban greenery here: