Pub. 1 2020-2021 Issue 2


A Guide to Engaging with Civic Leaders

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Learn how to engage with civic leaders at the local, state and federal levels to drive real change in your community.

Civic engagement and the architect’s role

What is my role as an architect?
As an architect, you possess very specific skills and training that can be of tremendous value to the future of communities. Architects are most effective when they are involved in critical conversations at the very earliest stages, helping city officials to make smart, informed decisions that can positively affect communities and save taxpayer dollars.

Why should I connect with elected officials and my community?
The more architects connect with civic leaders, the more opportunities we will have to positively influence outcomes, demonstrate value, gain trust, and become trusted advisers for every community project, thereby earning a seat at the table for future conversations.

Architects can make areal difference
In 2011, the Pratt City neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, was destroyed by a massive tornado. AIA’s Regional and Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) mobilized to help plan a recovery strategy. The team toured the community and met with local leaders and residents to discuss how to rebuild. Residents overwhelmingly said they “had a real voice in shaping our community.” Due to the community involvement and the expertise and understanding of the architects, the result was a comprehensive roadmap to rebuild a resilient and safe community.

Take action
Looking for ways to support a candidate or convene a conversation on a critical issue? Here are some effective actions that you can take between now and November:

1. Vote
Find your polling place and make a plan to vote. Also, check out your local election calendar to see when your state’s primary is to take place. Please bring your family and friends with you to the polls and encourage them to get involved as well.

2. Organize a conversation on a timely, local issue
Work with your local AIA component to host a community conversation. Invite local leaders and ask for specific ways architects can get involved. Find your local chapter.

3. Become a resource for a candidate
Many candidates rely on local professionals to provide expert guidance and information on important issues. Introduce yourself to a candidate and ask how you can help shape their position on a local issue.

4. Support a candidate
Spend some time identifying state-level candidates who are running for office. Help them raise funds by hosting a fundraiser or making a personal contribution. With modern campaign funds, no matter where you live, you can lend your support to candidates across the country.

5. Build the candidate pipeline
Identify emerging leaders in your local community, school board, or firm and encourage them to run for elected office.

About the Blueprint for Better campaign
All over the country, architects are working with civic leaders to address the critical issues affecting our cities. This year, AIA is shining a light on some of these important partnerships through the Blueprint for Better campaign.

This campaign seeks to position architects as thought and action leaders who work to enact positive change in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

As part of this campaign, AIA and its members are organizing conversations with civic leaders, participating in thought-leadership conferences, and encouraging architects to tell their stories through the AIA Film Challenge.

Learn more at

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