Why not follow the lead of our nation’s founding fathers and take time to serve your community. You might ask, how do you balance family life, business obligations, and public service. Well it does take a bit of juggling, not all that difficult if you are organized as architects are trained to be.
If in a marriage or committed relationship, you must have a strong bond with your partner who would be supportive of your involvement. The needs of your children must also be considered especially if they are younger.
Maintaining an architectural practice during these current difficult economic times could be an issue. If you are a practicing principal, this is an opportunity to place some of the client responsibility on your senior employees. It will help them gain needed experience in dealing with clients, and will help the employees feel that they are actively involved in making the firm successful.
You can begin by taking small steps. Become a member of one of your chapter’s committees. Step up to the plate when it is your turn to chair the committee. Consider running for an elective leadership position in your chapter. There are also many committees and leadership positions in the AIA at the state and national levels to be considered.
Seek opportunities in the community where your input as an architect may make a difference. There may be opportunities to serve on ad hoc committees studying various neighborhood and/or community wide issues. There are also opportunities to serve on city or county design review committees and planning commissions. If you have children, get involved in leadership positions within the sport organizations in which they participate.
Become politically active! Volunteer to encourage the young electorate to vote. Consider volunteering in a campaign committee for a particular issue or candidate. Become a voice!
After you are totally immersed in the betterment of your community, consider running for the city council or the county board of supervisors. Remember, it is individuals who vote and therefore you must be recognized for the contributions that you have made to your community.
I encourage all who read this article to get involved and be the change. You can make a difference!
Paul J. Gumbinger FAIA, an architectural firm owner and practicing principal, was founding President of AIA San Mateo County, 1992 President of AIA California Council, and served as a Director representing California for 3 years on the AIA Board of Directors. Paul is a former Planning Commission Member and Chairman, a 3 term City Council Member and Mayor of the City of San Mateo, California. He also served as Chairman of the San Mateo County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Paul currently serves on the Sacramento County Design Review Advisory Committee.
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