By Mary-Margaret Zindren, EVP/Executive Director

2023 is off and running! In the blur of activity heading into February, it can be easy to lose sight of the intentions we may have set for ourselves. You might have had some broad goals and ideas heading into the new year but haven’t yet found a good way to move them forward.

If any of your intentions relate to inspiration, creativity, or advocacy, AIA Minnesota is here to help. Taking a cue from the student-led installation within Rapson Hall facilitated by Adjunct Professor Leon Wang, it’s important for architectural designers and architects of all ages to regularly (re)ignite areas of passion that bring you joy and fuel your sense of purpose. Here are some near-term ways AIA Minnesota can help:

Get inspired – Inspiration often comes to us when we step away from our everyday experiences; when we open our minds to new areas of knowledge in which we don’t have experience or expertise. The Lake Superior Design Retreat (LSDR) is back in person in Duluth, February 24–25. You’ll hear from people who uniquely explore the intersections of textiles + climate action and storytelling + placemaking; from a celebrated actor/director/screenwriter who leads workshops with people experiencing mental illness; the leader of the global Fixit Clinic’s approach to disassembly, troubleshooting, and repair; and an Indigenous architect whose work was featured in Canada’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Get creative – Incubating creative solutions within intense timeframes is core to the traditional architectural charette. Three AIA Minnesota charette approaches are alive and well, and evolving to be more relevant than ever. During the next few months, you can get your creative juices flowing through one or more of these charettes: Search for Shelter is taking a hybrid approach to supporting projects for people experiencing homelessness. The Minnesota Design Team is gearing up for community visits in Greater Minnesota, responding to challenges faced by small, rural cities with ideas borne out of thoughtful community engagement and interdisciplinary teams of volunteers. And the MAF’s Ralph Rapson Traveling Study Award (RRTSA) program – which will be changing to strengthen its relevance and impact (see the Matrix story below from the RRTSA Task Force) – is expected to launch the 2023 competition later this Spring.

Get active – While you may be turning to things like walking, skiing, or rebounding on a trampoline (my own intention!) to get more active physically, AIA Minnesota can help you get active in other ways – specifically, legislative action and climate action. It’s one of the busiest years in recent memory at the Minnesota State Legislature, and the Government Affairs Committee is mentoring new volunteers in finding their voice when talking with policymakers about the issues that matter in the built environment. You can also get active by (literally) activating your free access to BuildingGreen.com. If you’ve been slow to get started in integrating sustainable design into your own practice, including pursuing the 2030 Commitment or the Materials Pledge, take advantage of what AIA Minneapolis has secured for all AIA Minnesota members: 2023 access to the resources of BuildingGreen.com at no cost. Look for an invitation from Angie McKinley to an orientation session on February 10th, or just reach out directly to Angie to learn more at mckinley@aia-mn.org.

Get inspired! Get creative! Get active! We’re here to help you make it happen.

View the February 2023 edition of Matrix.