I have just returned from 2013 Grassroots Conference and experienced what a great opportunity we have as Architects. Grassroots allows us, as citizen architects, to meet with our congressman in Washington DC.
The AIA develops talking points for our visits about issues which affect our profession. This year, the issues came from a questionnaire that was sent to every AIA member. They were:
- SIMPLIFY TAXES TO PROTECT SMALL BUSINESSES. Congress should protect small businesses as it debates tax reform, and not limit tax credits to large corporations.
- SAVE ENERGY, CREATE JOBS. In order to encourage new construction and renovation, and support small businesses that do this work, Congress should extend and make modest improvements to the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (179D), which is set to expire this year.
- INVEST IN THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS, Architecture students have some of the largest debt coming out of college – $40,000 on average. They are willing and able to contribute their design abilities to help their communities in exchange for student loan assistance, but they need Congress help to make it happen.
- IMPROVE GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT TO HELP THE ECONOMY, Sharp cuts to design and construction budgets make it more important than ever that procurement laws ensure small businesses have fair access to the federal marketplace.
However with no exceptions conversations turned to Sandy Recovery. It was nice to see that our Congressmen are also trying to get the FEMA maps finalized as soon as possible, and are sensitive to the new realities that many or our residents are facing.
After Superstorm Sandy devastated our area, AIA National took up a collection and donated $32,000 to AIA-NJ to help with the recovery however we see fit. One of the projects we are working on is convening a Sustainable Design Assessment Team to examine the community of Camp Osborn in Brick Township. An SDAT is a results-driven community design program based on the principles of interdisciplinary solutions, objectivity, and public participation. The program combines local resources with the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of professionals who volunteer their time to identify ways to encourage desirable change in a community. Camp Osborne was made up of densely packed cottages that were destroyed by fire in the aftermath of Sandy. The goal of the SDAT is to come up with a viable solution for the rebuilding of this area in light of new flood and zoning regulations. We will be having a meeting with the property Owners and the Town Officials to get their input and develop a master plan for the 3.2 acres on April 27, 2013. Everyone is welcome to attend.