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Public Advocacy – Sample Op-Ed Submissions and Letters to the Editor
The most effective advocates for the architecture profession are AIA elected leadership and other practitioners across the country. The AIA Board Advocacy Sub-committee on Public Engagement has developed a strategy for speaking out on issues by providing “templated opinion pieces” to component leadership that can either be submitted as letters to the editor or as op-eds to local print and online media.
These letters or opinion pieces will “tee up” an issue that has yet to receive coverage or in some cases respond to issues that have been covered in the media - such as jobs, small business stimulus, pending national legislation, sustainability, design relevance, etc. They are intended to assist local AIA leaders in speaking out on issues important to the profession. Our subcommittee, with the able assistance of AIA national advocacy and communications staff, will create templates that will be well researched, compatible with AIA approved position statements and consistent with statements, press releases and advocacy initiatives at all levels of the AIA.
We cannot be the authoritative voice for the profession if we do not speak out on issues that are important to architects. This strategy will only be effective through the participation of AIA leadership across the country. The templates will allow for some customization and will be designed to be signed and sent by the local AIA leader. The technique will be similar to the legislative advocacy letters available through the AIA Action Center and should be simple to edit and send.
May 2013 – Do Not Renege on Federal Energy Efficiency Commitments
A week from today, May 8, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act will be marked up by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We heartily support that legislation. But we expect an amendment to that bill to be introduced by Sen. Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) that may eliminate Section 433(a) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The 2007 law requires federal agencies to phase out the consumption of energy from greenhouse-gas-emitting sources in newly constructed or renovated federal buildings by 2030, unless they can show such reductions are not technically feasible.
Eliminating that provision would be bad public policy and bad news for our profession. As a result, the AIA has taken a lead role in drafting and sending today a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, signed by more than 350 companies and organizations from environmental groups to real estate developers urging the committee not to weaken or eliminate energy conservation requirements in federal buildings. “Do Not Renege on Federal Energy Efficiency Commitments”
February 2013 – Let’s Get America Building Again
The February installment attempts to leverage the ongoing fiscal battles on Capitol Hill, only some of which have been solved – for the time being. Sequestration still looms come March 1, and the debt ceiling has been extended only temporarily. What this piece does is attempt to let the reader imagine what life would be like in Washington, D.C. (and used to be like) when such battles were not so acrimonious and disputes over public policy actually centered on ways policymakers can address the country’s challenges. Such is the case with the AIA’s Federal Agenda, which is spelled out in plain simple language in the attached opinion piece. We think given this context, the piece might resonate with editorial boards and local business publications if you choose to submit it. “Let’s Get America Building Again”
December 2012 – Architects Are Eager to Assist in Superstorm Sandy Recovery
This month’s piece, which is, by intention, authored by AIANYS President Kelly Hayes McAlonie and deals with the issue of liability for architects whenever they volunteer their assistance during times of disaster, and the disaster wrought by Superstorm Sandy on the east coast is a case in point. Your state may already have a Good Sam law on the books. Take a look at this link to determine if you do. If you do not, we urge you to submit this piece to the opinion page of your local newspaper or business journal. If you do have it, it is still worth submitting as it’s important that we achieve consensus on the national level on this issue, and the piece calls out a proposed bill in Congress that would do just that. “Architects Are Eager to Assist in Superstorm Sandy Recovery”
October 2012 – The 800-Pound Gorilla That Neither Presidential Campaign Will Face
This month’s piece uses the upcoming election less than two weeks from now as a news-peg to discuss the impending fiscal cliff budget impasse that must be tackled, no matter who is elected president, right after America votes. We use a recent report by the AIA on the impact the budget process will have on the design and construction sector interview if Congress and the White House don’t reach agreement on a budget before January 2, when mandatory budget cuts and tax increases take place. NOTE: This month’s edition also contains some charts, sourced to the AIA, which should help make this piece more attractive to local media. We think this piece has a decent chance of attracting attention given the upcoming election. “The 800-Pound Gorilla That Neither Presidential Campaign Will Face”
September 2012 – Why Design Matters to Public Health
This month’s opinion piece uses the appearance of AIA EVP and Chief Executive Robert Ivy, FAIA, at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City on September 24 to tee up a provocative topic: how design and the architecture profession can influence the public debate about creating a more healthy society. The piece announces a “Decade of Design” commitment to provide design and technology solutions that will help cities across the country prepare for challenges faced on public health, sustainability, and resiliency to natural disasters. The commitment involves both monetary and “in-kind’ contributions and features, but it begins initially with the first-ever Decade of Design research grants by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) awarded to three schools of architecture. Note: this piece should be submitted for consideration by local editorial boards no earlier than September 24, which is when we are announcing this commitment. “Why Design Matters to Public Health”
August 2012 – Citizen Architect
This month’s piece uses the upcoming political conventions later this month as a news-peg to discuss the particular attributes architects bring to the political process as elected representatives. We interview four architects (two Republicans, two Democrats) running for office in both state and Congressional elections. Perhaps not so surprisingly, we find that they agree on the attributes that make architects good elected officials. We think this piece has a decent chance of running given the upcoming convention season. “Citizen Architect”.
July 2012 – The Funding Solution That’s Staring Local Governments in the Face
This month’s piece touches on a possible funding solution for cash-strapped local municipalities – permitting reform. The piece discusses the effect that an expedited, streamlined permitting process can have on spurring economic development and increasing tax revenues and the tax base for local communities across the country. “The Funding Solution That’s Staring Local Governments in the Face”.
June 2012 – Joplin’s Inspiring Lesson: We Can Rebuild
This month’s piece comes as the height of tornado season is upon us. Thankfully, this year’s season so far hasn’t been nearly as disastrous as the tornado season of 2011. However, the piece details what the architectural community has done to help both residents of Alabama and Missouri recover from the killer tornadoes that touched down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri. We think the piece highlights a unique connection architects can have with communities that are devastated by such natural events. “Joplin’s Inspiring Lesson: We Can Rebuild”.
May 2012 – Why Congress Should Listen to Architects
This month’s piece touches on two high-profile stories that have been picked up by national media, and it takes on both political parties for pushing proposals that could harm the profession. One is the controversy over how to pay for extending the low-interest rate program on student loans, a program that is currently set to expire in July. Democrats want to increase taxes on companies who file as Subchapter S Corporations, as many of our members do. The AIA is against this proposal. The other story covers an effort by House Republicans to cut spending on energy conservation measures for federal buildings. Again, the AIA’s position is that this is short-sighted and we are lobbying hard against this proposal. To view this month’s op-ed check out “Why Congress Should Listen to Architects”.
Public Engagement Subcommittee of the AIA Board Advocacy Committee
Russell A. Davidson, AIA – Regional Director, New York State
Jeff Gill, AIA – Regional Director, California
Bill Wilson, FAIA – Regional Director, Texas
Bill Bishop, AIA – Regional Director, Florida
AIA National Staff Liaison:
John Schneidawind, Director, Public Affairs & Media Relations
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