Why I'm a Member...
I am writing to share the reasons that I am a member of the AIA and AIA Wisconsin.
There are the easy reasons to cite, such as the convenience of continued education tracking on the website and access to continuing education credits. If you added up the time it would take to source the content and track your own participation, you would probably find that this alone justifies the cost of the membership fee.
And, if you did this sourcing and tracking on your own, you would also find that the content you sourced for yourself wouldn’t compare in terms of relevance and inspirational quality. So, feeling connected and excited about your profession are the side effects of membership for this simpler reason for joining.
What an architect “is” and “does” is the product of our professional organization.
But there is a more complex reason that is not as apparent until you gain a deeper understanding of the organization. The significance and meaning of what an architect “is” and “does” is the product of our professional organization. Through membership and participation, we have a voice in defining that meaning. We can analyze the qualities and flaws of our professional group and leverage our power to improve ourselves, and thereby effect positive influence on entire cities, economies and society at large. Where will we go as a profession? How will we influence the communities around us? An individual can’t be part of this conversation without membership, and we can’t know what the others are thinking to act in unity towards a common goal.
We have political power to protect our professional status where other licensed professionals without a robust organization do not. Recently, the state of Wisconsin issued a legislative report that recommended reform to the occupational licensing laws in the State . They recommended reforms to eliminate or minimize licensing requirements for 28 different occupational licenses including professional Interior Design licenses. This underscores the importance of an organization that is there to defend your status as a professional. Although unlikely, lawmakers who deem the architectural professional license as an economic roadblock and a barrier to commerce, could decide to minimize or eliminate the professional licensing requirements.
Where would this leave us as a professional group? Would market competition and voluntary self-certification drive the ethics of our profession? I believe most people become Architects because they care about the world and its inhabitants. I think we believe that our actions can be meaningful and effect the places where we work. And I believe we join an organization like the AIA because we believe that as a group, our collective and coordinated actions can have a greater impact than our own individual actions. That’s what membership means to me.