Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who represents the 3rd district of Oregon, helped kick-off reVISION ASLA 2020. In an interview with new ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen, Rep. Blumenauer said the incoming administration led by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have respect for the 175,000-plus landscape architects, architects, and urban planners in the U.S. who do the hard work of “pulling the pieces together and solving problems instead of creating new ones.”
Rep. Blumenauer, who is a fierce advocate for sustainable, cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly communities, believes that with the new administration, there is a “real opportunity for design professionals to harness their creative powers.”
Carter-Conneen noted that Republicans in part ran on a platform opposing the Green New Deal, a set of proposals articulated by liberal Democrats to dramatically increase public investment to address climate change and inequality.
In a debate with President Trump, President-elect Biden distanced himself from the Green New Deal, instead calling for the Biden plan, which includes a commitment to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and providing billions towards fighting environmental injustice and creating new green jobs.
Rep. Blumenauer, one of the forces behind the Green New Deal, noted that the framework is “aspirational, not about specifics.”
“In reality, the Green New Deal is about creating more choices for Americans” by improving access to renewable energy, instead of just fossil fuels, and designing and building federal infrastructure projects that “enhance the environment,” he said.
“I’m not worried about the rhetoric around the Green New Deal. We need to realize its vision by maximizing resources and embracing resilience to climate change.” The Biden plan for addressing climate change is also about “actively rebuilding America and creating a low-carbon future.”
When asked how landscape architects can better get involved in both policy and politics, Rep. Blumenauer said landscape architects already enjoy widespread public support. “You all are most effective at engaging the public and capturing people’s attention through creative design.”
“Landscape architects bridge concept and reality and solve problems people care about.”
Rep. Blumenauer applauded the role of landscape architects in promoting natural solutions to urban problems. Speaking directly to the online audience of more than a thousand, he said: “with urban landscape design, you can use soft green infrastructure to create more value. You shouldn’t be bashful about the value you bring.”
To expand their impact, he called for landscape architects to work collectively with architects and urban planners. Together, design professionals can be “very powerful.” Too often, “you understate your political power.”