January 15, 2016
Paul Brydges
LO President

Paul BrydgesMy Landscape Ontario journey started through a discussion with Ron Swentiski CLD at the Landscape Designers’ Conference, where I was invited to join the Commodity Group.

Ron and I agreed that having a landscape architect in the group would add a different perspective. Little did Ron and I know where that discussion would lead. The dynamic group of landscape designers looked to elevate the image and profession.  

Becoming the design sector representative to the provincial board seemed like a great way to see the big picture and help where I could. This began with leading the design team to create two LO Canada Blooms gardens along the way. The garden designs at Canada Blooms helped us to get to know members and build relationships through all the sectors involved in LO. The depth and diversity in the association still continues to amaze me.

Next, a tap on the shoulder from our illustrious executive director Tony DiGiovanni brought me to putting my hat in the ring for the position of treasurer on the provincial board. We all know how difficult it is to say no to such an elegant and articulate speaker.

Which brings us to this point in my LO history, and this article. It’s my first as President Elect.

The daily driving force and message in our design office are that of teamwork and relationships. As landscape architects, our biggest role is and should be that of a coach. We listen to our clients’ needs, wants and wishes and blend the realistic with the fantastic. This is the same platform that LO is built upon in so many respects.

Without the incredible talent of all the contractors we collaborate with, unique materials from suppliers and manufacturers, all we do is put ideas on a piece of paper. There are too many details of construction and materials for any one person to be an expert at all aspects of our modern, very complex projects. We strive to build a team of professionals to bring the most recent knowledge and skill sets to a project in order for our clients to receive the best results possible.

Our biggest hurdle in achieving and maintaining our modern landscapes is to overcome the shortage of qualified team members and also the perception of our profession as mowers of lawns and shovelers of snow. Those days are generations gone. If we can look at ourselves in the proper light and realize through education and years of on-the-job training that we are all professionals, we can change our market perception. That is how we are going to bring young professionals into the profession, as well as interest students to move into programs that will qualify them for the careers.

That change of wording to put ourselves forward as professionals is easy and extremely difficult all at the same time. As landscape designers, growers, contractors, maintenance, lighting or irrigation sector professionals, we carry ourselves as professionals every day.

After watching our most recent president put forth the challenge of growing our profession, I quickly wrote on a sticky note what my mandate would be in the eventual potential ascension to president. The two simple words take in all that our firm does and all that LO and our great members do working as a team and collaborating: ‘Drawn Together.’

Say it however you like, but it is the real reason to join LO, as our amazing staff team members continue to put forth in all of our media outlets and programs.
Paul Brydges may be reached at paulbrydges.la@sympatico.ca.