I agree with your general idea, that volunteering for the AIA is an enriching, positive activity for the career of budding architects. I like your JFK throwback, "What can YOU do for your AIA." I thoroughly concur that being an architect and an AIA member is what you make of it. More involvement, participation, ect. However, I was incensed via your generalizations that suggest that there are a lack of young architects involved with the AIA. I'm sorry that this is the case in Boise. Nationally, and in other cities, this is NOT the case. Are you aware of the NAC, the National Associates Committee, and their involvement with the AIA at the national level? They have their own professional publications too. Forward is one of them. Are you aware of the Young Architects Forum at both the national and city levels? You shouldn't be so trite with your generalizations of "younger" generations of architects. The entire process, as you should know, is a singular and sometimes lonely endeavor. Depending on job situation, or employment status, people are involved as much as they want/can be. First, I get what you are saying. AIA Dallas is probably the par exemplar example of regional AIA emerging architect activities: http://aiadallasyaf.blogspot.com + http://aiadallasassociates.blogspot.com + http://aiadallasemergingleadersprogram.blogspot.com. In Pittsburgh, we at the AIA PGH YAF have had a difficult time of growing our members. We are expanding; it’s just been a slow process. However, the core group is dedicated, and little by little, we have an amazing year of activities and programs, both social and educational, for and run by young architects. We also collaborate with Young Constructors, a group of young contractors affiliated with the Master Builder Association of Western Pennsylvania. Second, from your profile, it appears that you are gainfully employed and very involved with your local chapter. Please do NOT forget that many young architects are unemployed right now (I'm one of them), and they cannot afford to cough up membership dues. If you're prioritizing on food, rent, ect...versus professional affiliation, it's not shocking that there's a drop off in membership for people my age. Likewise, unless firms pay for membership, I understand why people do not pay. I value those initials after my name, but many people in this economy, have cut back. Again, though, this club is what you make of it, right? I am unemployed, yet I stay involved. I donate my time whilst looking for a job. My peers who are both members and non-members have another priority that hinders their dedicated involvement: family development. People left and right in my age bracket are getting married and having children. Yes, some of those folks are my heroes who multitask like it's nothing. They have full time arch jobs and are licensed, and have babies...Factor that into the mix. Next, I would like to address your ridiculous assumption that "Everyone comes out of school thinking they are going to open up their own firm and life will be all Bilbaos and Guggenheims." Perhaps some 20-somethings, who are more often than not, computer whizzes, are naive in their expectations of how firms really operate. But to suggest that every young architect is like that is absurd. You go on to mention the importance of technology. The kids whom you just insulted are the ones who have to teach the majority of the people running the firms how to use new computer software and programming. Young people coming out of school have an intuitive grasp of BIM and Integrated Project Delivery tools, whereas jaded baby boomers and yuppies, often lack the skills of utilizing the software. They know how to get things done via dated means, but they have to adjust, to share their knowledge, and learn together with and from their new recruits, just as the young architects seek the knowledge that the firm leaders possess. They are running the firms, chasing clients, project managing, and too often, force the talented fresh blood to become cad monkeys. Production is important; we all need to learn how to put together a buildable set of drawings. But a collaborative atmosphere, where there is actually a culture of fostering education, growth and professional development without antagonism or frowning upon creative inquiry is needed. It seems to me that the leadership at your AIA should be mindful of what they are doing, and work harder to engage new recruits. Enable them to want to participate. It's hit or miss, but please keep trying to foster a collaborative, cooperative setting for young architects to learn from their elders. They'll come around. Hiring a PR/Marketing guru always helps. Sometimes young architects are great at volunteering their social media prowess.
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