I should be on my way to Washington right now, to take part in the AIA’s Grassroots Leadership and Advocacy Conference. Unfortunately, between client meetings for two different projects, a deadline for a third, and several other commitments, the trip to the capital just wasn’t in the cards this year. I’ve always said that family comes first, work comes second, and volunteer efforts come third, but I’m still a little disappointed that I have to miss it.
This would have been my third Grassroots — longtime fans of my blog (both of you!) might remember my post from last year’s event, and I had also shared my experience from 2012’s conference on AIA Pittsburgh’s website. This year, I was really looking forward to reconnecting with my fellow facilitators from the Emerging Professionals Summit (by the way, check out the excellent recaps in the current issue of CONNECTION!)… and the opportunity to formally endorse the National Design Services Act by lobbying my congressmen to support the bill. Support for the NDSA is one of the major talking points for the Capitol Hill visits this year, so I will leave this in the more than capable hands of the other 700+ architects that will be attending the conference. I’ll rely on Twitter to keep getting the word out.
For the record, I’m not a fan of the concept of student loan forgiveness, but I wholeheartedly support the idea of the NDSA, and hope that it sees its way into legislation. What I like the most about the Act is that it isn’t offering a free ride — by trading design services for loan assistance, it places value on design while offering graduates a chance to provide humanitarian aid through their skill set. Having recently paid off my student loans, I can appreciate how difficult it can be starting out on your own with so much debt to repay… but the fact that I worked every day to pay off my lender makes me completely against the idea of a scot-free bailout for anyone. The NDSA seems like a perfect solution to an increasingly difficult problem facing our profession… the very thing that Grassroots is meant for.
Not going to Grassroots? For more information about the NDSA, including ways you or your chapter can assist with legislation in your area, click here.