There is No They There

Malvin Whang, AIA

I’m excited to be the new chapter president of the AIA East Bay for 2015. I was asked at the membership appreciation party in December why I became involved with the AIA. My answer has been and continues to be simple. There is no other group of architects that represents us, advocates for us, encourages, enlightens or enables us.

It’s that simple.

There isn’t another group of well-meaning architects who do all those things we hope would get done on our behalf to empower us, to engage the public and to collectively raise the bar in impacting our environment. There are almost a thousand of us in our chapter membership and many more in our profession, who would agree without hesitation, that there is much work to be done.

Work to advocate for our profession in local, state and federal levels, to engage the public to see the value of design and to educate and enlighten our own profession to improve the quality of work we do as professionals.

There is No They There, only Us

My sense is that for some, paying dues and adding the AIA after one’s name suffices. All that work to improve our profession or help the public understand why and how good design matters should be done, not necessarily by Us but They. They who would take time to meet with legislators to help craft regulations that affect our profession, or to speak at a community meeting about development issues, or provide insights to young members in our profession to pass down the collective knowledge of our craft.

We are They

As all of you know, there is no other They who do all those things for us. We are They and They are Us. This is why I joined the Institute and became involved. There was important work to be done. Work that would help improve the built environment, how we would do our work and to make design more accessible to more people. Some days, it’s hard to see past the deadlines and tasks in our work daily. It’s difficult to make time to do this kind of work. We can all list lots of reasons why we can’t be the ones that do this work. Not now, maybe later we can find the time/energy/inspiration to get to it.

Our Year Ahead

We have opportunities to engage our members to take on the work to represent our profession, to engage the public and to improve our profession throughout the year and through various programs, activities and committees through the Chapter. We have many programs throughout the year and almost all of them start with members deciding there is work they want to take on. The members do not exist to make the Chapter successful; the Chapter exists to make the members successful.

Malvin Whang, AIA

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