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I know I don’t have the answers to everything, and so instead of going it alone, I’ve decided to take my Grandpa’s advice and ask for help. I’m going to turn the tables this month and ask you to brainstorm this particular subject matter with me. Here goes nothing …

As an industry, we are very segmented. I believe our different specialty groups get along well enough, but I believe we tend to be like draft horses with blinders on, focused on only what we can see. It seems we’re pulling in opposite directions when if we worked more as a team, we could accomplish twice as much to benefit our industry and ourselves.

I am proud to have been asked to play a small part of bringing diverse associations together. Lead by the vision, passion and persistence of Treasurer Kirk Brown of Joanne Kostecky Garden Design Inc. of Allentown, Penn., the Garden Writer’s Association board of directors created a standing task force titled the “Association Outreach Initiative,” of which I’ll act as Chair.

This group is charged with reaching out to other industry groups to see how we can collaborate for the benefit of our members in areas such as education, membership services, networking and, maybe most importantly, increasing potential business for GWA members (and their counterparts in other organizations). This is a new initiative, and I look forward to seeing what doors can be opened.

I’ve talked in previous columns on how I feel we could be missing the boat when it comes to collaboration; in particular the green industry and two groups who have direct contact with consumers – garden writers and master gardeners. But there is another group who may be equally as important, who I also consider direct “influencers” of the gardening public; these are the landscape architects.

Before I go one step further, so as to not offend anyone, I consider landscape designers to be “influencers” just as valuable as LAs. However – and let me emphasize that this is my own experience – I find that landscape designers overall are a more approachable group who are involved in networking within our industry. I wonder if our passion for digging in the soil is a common bond that more easily connects us.

But, for whatever reason, I’ve always felt this great divide between the green industry and LAs, and I’m just not sure why. And therein lies my question:

Looking for answers, I attended the ASLA annual meeting and trade show in Chicago a few years back. A few encounters stood out:

Thus you can see that I left Chi-town even more confused than ever. But, my Grandma taught me to never give up, and I won’t. I guess I just have to keep pecking away, trying to find the answer on how to connect with LAs. I hope it’s an answer that will eventually come. As Robert Schuller said, “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure; it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.”

Originally printed in American Nurseryman Magazine, August, 2012

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