Enlisting the Domestic Workforce

I make it a point to read as many landscape magazines, newsletters and commentaries as I can from across the country and see that many today are talking about the limitations of H-2B and the lack of workers available as the landscape industry, and the economy as a whole, heats up. Now, with Spring in the air, the need to enhance your crew is more important than ever.

Over the past 10 years, LC/DBM has advocated for the National Association to encourage American Citizens to join the ranks in this most Honorable of Professions. Visit LandscapeOnline.com and find article #9930 to see one of the first commentaries on this subject and the numerous responses it generated from across the nation.

I’ve seen and heard comments like, “we need to increase the H-2B limits,” “you need to become less labor intensive,” and “nobody wants these jobs.” However, for most of the years I have been in this industry, very little was done to promote a healthy workforce from within our borders.

First of all, there is a huge group of Americans that are underemployed. No . . . I’m not talking race or immigration . . . I’m talking American males in the 20-24-year-old category. This is the largest segment of unemployed people across all races and the one segment that is most capable of doing the physical labor associated with landscape. This group is also willing to gain education and is the most easily influenced to begin a new career path
Over the years I’ve written about this issue many times and recieved a lot of kickback from (then) PLANET and also the Nurserymen’s Association (ANLA), with most of their comments focusing on bringing in a foreign workforce based on the age-old misconception that “nobody else wants these jobs.” To which I would reply . . . Why? Almost everyone I know in the industry loves the work and loves the job . . .

Fortunately, through the NALP Growing the Workforce Initiative, which was introduced in 2016 and has been gaining steam over the past year, the national association has taken a big step forward.

It’s great to see NALP taking a proactive stance, by stating, “The Industry Growth Initiative is changing perceptions and narratives about the industry through aggressive public relations efforts that will redefine our image, making this a sought-after field of employment.” Finally!

Now, though, it’s time for NALP to redouble their efforts and really start to push this agenda across all media and across all 50 states. Spring is upon us and work is piling up.

To learn more about the NALP Industry Growth Initiative or to get involved, you can visit their website: www.landscapeprofessionals.org and follow the menu link “Workforce”. Landscape is a noble and profitable profession. It’s great to see the national association finally stepping up and taking steps to make the landscape industry truly great again!

God Bless . . . And Happy Easter!
George Schmok, Publisher

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, March 2018.

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Park Your Park as a Park!

Well, spring is in the air and that must mean you are reading the annual LASN “Parks” issue.

With that, here are a couple of things trending in the world of park development. Recently, the ASLA released a statement opposing the Trump Administration’s 2019 fiscal year budget proposal, because it “recommended cutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by 98 percent from FY17 levels and zeroing out the state grants program.” This represents a potential $900 million savings for the gov’t, but a huge loss for park development across the country. Since a lot of the allocations are based on a given state’s population, this retreat in spending would affect states like California, New York and Illinois to a greater extent than other less populated states. While I am definitely for less government spending, this matter does warrant further review. To find out more you should visit:

And speaking of parks . . . I was recently down at San Diego’s Balboa Park and Museum Complex and found this ASLA Centennial Medallion recognizing the site as “a National Landmark for Outstanding Landscape Architecture.”

From the NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Association), I recently read a very entertaining piece on park trends that offered several interesting predictions, including a trend to renovate underground and otherwise abandoned facilities (like Seattle’s Battery Street Tunnel) into park spaces. Old train stations, subways, rail tunnels and more are all in play when it comes to this trend.

Another interesting prediction was that puppy waste could become fuel through “small-scale anaerobic digesters for parks. Patrons could deposit dog waste, which is composted to produce methane that is used to power park lighting.” (See page 120 of LASN March 2018.)

And also from the NRPA is a more somber prediction. Lack of housing is forcing cities to look hard for available real estate. Some parks are being replaced with high-rise or other population-dense developments. The NRPA is predicting this trend to grow in 2018, but offered a potential deterrent to this by “dedicating” land as park land. Apparently in New York, approving a conversion from a dedicated park to a different kind of development requires a 2/3 majority in the legislature and the change must also “comply with federal protections of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act” if the original park was built with those funds. (Although if Trump’s proposed budget changes kick in, this point would be somewhat moot for future developed parks.) I’m sure every state is a bit different, but if you can officially dedicate the land as a park it has a better chance of withstanding the onslaught of developers.

So, it appears that developing a park will not always be a walk in the park, but keeping an eye on legislation and working the system will definitely help to park the park as a park . . .

God bless and happy Easter . . .
George Schmok, Publisher

 As seen in LASN magazine, March 2018.

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A Nation of Builders . . .

In listening to the State-of-the-Union address—and regardless of how you feel about Trump or how you feel about those who didn’t stand up to applaud a 12-year-old boy who decorated graves of veterans with American flags—there was one bipartisan moment that bodes well for landscape architects across the nation. That was when both sides stood up and applauded as Trump mentioned his plan to invest in infrastructure.

2 Big I 1 Credit Robert Reck
Large infrastructure projects like this Arizona interstate exchange featured on the January cover of LASN are not for everyone, but opportunity is going to present itself in the very near future, so now is a good time to brush up on the ins and outs of public works.

Back in 1991 when Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), followed by several other ‘TEA’ legislations, it helped take the United States out of the ’90-’91 recession and ushered in what is called “the longest period of growth in American history,” which was only briefly interrupted by the dot.com bubble and 9/11 in 2001 and basically lasted until 2008.

Again . . . Regardless of how you feel about the current administration, one thing is pretty well undeniable . . . Business and construction are solidly into positive territory. Now, with both parties eager to begin building or rebuilding infrastructure there is good reason to be even more excited about the immediate future of the landscape architectural profession as well.

That said, if you are a smaller shop, you’ll need to choose whether you want to be a part of the infrastructure rebuild or not. There will probably be plenty of peripheral projects, but to get into transportation or larger municipal projects, now would be a great time to scout out seminars and workshops designed to deal with these markets and start to shape your firm to deal with these kind of projects. 

Infrastructure isn’t for everyone, but with both political parties hot on the issue, there is definitely opportunity coming down the road . . .

Go get ’em and God bless . . .
George Schmok, Publisher

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2018, Commentary.

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Landscape Architects Split 50/50 on Paris Climate Accord

Reader’s Opinions



On Thursday June 1, Trump officially announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Accords. That same day, LASN magazine emailed a sampling of its readers for their opinions on the pull out, and asked them to state specific reasons for their positions. Trump stated it costs U.S. jobs and is an undue burden on American taxpayers.

The response was split almost exactly 50/50 for those in agreement and those opposed to the US pulling out of the agreement. About 80% of all respondents sited the need to protect the climate regardless of which side they took. Here is a compilation of the response from across the country. We have not identified the names of the senders, only their city and state, nor edited the comments, except for a couple uses of profanity.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the question.

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