AIA Grassroots – Crucial Conversations

Kurt Davis, AIA

While I have attended national AIA and AIA Wisconsin conferences, I have never felt quite so immersed in a conference before.  AIA Grassroots 2018 focused on the architects’ role in influencing the future. The seminar sessions I participated in addressed issues related to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in our field.

It is ironic that the first session I attended was about with having “Crucial Conversations.”  The presentation was based on a book with the same name; and the discussion did not concentrate directly on issues of diversity, equality or inclusion in the profession of architecture.  However, it did focus on how we may begin an honest discussion on the topic. Some things to consider:

  • Lack of action – Tolerance – complacency, indifference, fear, insecurity, alliance. Consider the risk of speaking up versus the risk of not speaking up.    
  • What you permit is what you promote – Take appropriate action when you experience or observe inappropriate behavior.
  • People don’t quit jobs, people quit people – Behavior matters.
  • Conflict is inevitable, resentment is an option – “If you don’t talk it out, you’ll act it out.” There is an economic cost to every crucial conversation not held.

With this mind, we need to start having “crucial conversations” at a local level, at our own places of work. These conversations are vital for architects to implement strategies to build communities – communities of diversity, equality and inclusion void of “unconscious and conscious bias.”

Diversity in our profession is lacking, but change is coming. Leaders are starting to listen; and I do see change on the horizon. Do we have a long way to go? Yes.  

So, ask yourself: What can I do at the local level to influence and design our preferred future?

Image credits

Kurt Davis, AIA

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