OAA Annual General Meeting: Spring 2018

This is an abridged text of my (short) speech at the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) annual general meeting, held in Toronto May 2018.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I’m big on threads, and once I get on a soapbox, it’s hard to get me to change the subject, especially if it’s about procurement.

I spent 6 years on council, and 6 years prior to that volunteering on practice committee. I have ongoing responsibilities today with 5 or 6 committees, and have just taken on chairmanship of the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects. They say idle hands are the Devil’s workshop but I’ve only been licensed for about 12 years, and can’t even begin to imagine idleness.  In my time on council, I’d like to think that I had an impact, and have left a legacy of positive change. If I can do it, so can every person in this room.

So I leave you tonight, without really leaving, but with three asks.

Every architect in this room, and every intern, retired architect and family of an architect, benefits from the advocacy of the RAIC. When a federal RFP is amended, often, the RAIC is behind it. When a member of the public sees the governor general’s awards in architecture and thinks that architecture matters, the RAIC is behind that advocacy. When parliament, or a federal government agency looks for input from architecture, they look to the RAIC.

We all benefit from a strong national voice in architecture, regardless of whether or not we pay for it. But the RAIC desperately needs our support.

The RAIC only counts 20% of the architects in Canada amongst their membership. They are too few to be as effective as I know they could be. Every person in the room, if you really believe architecture matters, should be a member of the RAIC. So my first ask is that you get the application, sign up, and lend your support to a strong national voice for architecture in Canada. And if you say you can’t afford it, because fees are too low, that leads to my second ask.

When there is a call for proposals, and it’s terrible, as so many of them lately are, we, as an industry, need to stop responding. Imagine if there was an RFP and no one replied. And imagine if that happened over and over and over. What kind of message would that send to the political masters of these procurement departments? What if we all refused to play the game, and called out our political leaders for the way we are treated in procurement? And how we are paid? And reinforced, over and over, that what we do matters, and is deserving of not only respect, but decent fees? We are weakened, immeasurably, when the OAA issues an RFP alert, and even one member responds. So my second ask is that together, the leaders of firms, especially of the largest, stand firm, stand together, and refuse to participate in the decimation of our profession.

Third, and last, I ask this. There are too few volunteers. Too few voices, too few carrying the ball. New members in this room tonight celebrating, senior members of the profession, please give of yourself, your time, and your energy. The OAA, your local society, community association, blog site, the RAIC, any of these organizations and more, we need more voices singing from the same songbook, raising your voice to show that architecture matters. Run for council. Put your name forward for a committee. Advocate, lead, be the voice of change. If you’re not sure how to fit that into your schedule, see me later, likely with a scotch in hand, and I’ll tell you how I did it. It might not work for you, and you might need to find your own path, but work with us.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

To see more, watch the video on our Facebook page.

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