Being an Architect also means being invested in your community.
I think of it as sort of the same mentality as 'With great power, comes great responsibility' (thanks, Spider-man).
ELECTION 2016, THE GREAT DIVIDE
Look, I know that you're probably not too excited about this year's general election.
In terms of potential candidates for the new President of the United States (POTUS), the selection isn't what I'd call 'ideal.'
Did you know there are actually five that are actively running? I didn't until recently. Now, granted, only two of those have a real chance of winning the election, but those candidates have also been divisive and shrouded in controversy.
On one side of the aisle, we have a man who insists on acting like a loud, cartoon character who has convinced himself he can do no wrong, although it's been proven otherwise.
On the other side, there is a woman who has been a politician so long that she carries far too much negative baggage to even truly defend herself when questioned about it.
Neither of these is particularly appealing.
In fact, many of my friends and family have even gone so far as to tell me that they don't plan on voting at all. They're disappointed by the choices they have and would rather abstain altogether.
While I respect their decisions, I don't necessarily understand them. As an American citizen and an Architect, I feel compelled to participate in this election.
I think that's been instilled in me by the people who have touched my life.
MY GRANDFATHER, THE COMMUNITY MAN
My grandfather, Robert LaValley, was an avid politician in Utica, NY.
Although he only served officially as a City Councilman for two years in the late 90's, he had always actively participated in the service of his community and his country. He was an electrical engineer, a Navy sailor, and a family man. He did his part to better the world through service.
And even though I was only able to visit my Grandparents in Utica once or twice a year, the stories that were told about his service seemed to have stuck with me.
One of my favorite - he provided flowers for Auert Park, a small area near his home, at no cost to the city for many years.
The small things we do can often have the most impact.
THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT THE PRESIDENT
Most people think of the General Election as only a vote for President, but it's not the only choice on the ballot.
Where I live, there will be votes tallied for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Senate, and State Assembly. There are also votes for a few local offices as well.
Consider for a moment the stories of each of those running. They may not be as dramatic or news-worthy as the Presidential election, but they still matter.
I don't dare suggest that all politicians are without fault, caring only for others. Scandals happen. Shady deals do too.
What I suggest instead is that voting is your chance to make your voice be heard. If you don't want the incumbents re-elected because you think the system is corrupt, make that known. If you think they're doing a great job, re-elect them.
YOU CAN STILL HAVE AN IMPACT WITHOUT VOTING
Not everyone in this country has the right to vote. I don't take that for granted. I cherish my right to vote because it, above most other Holidays and events that memorialize the past, reminds me of the sacrifices that were made to get us here, to this moment.
We could be living in a completely different world where all the decisions are made for us. Thankfully, in this country, we have the say of who our leaders will be.
If you aren't eligible to vote, perhaps you could still get involved in the discussion. They do tend to get a bit heated, but taking the time to talk through the issues may just be enough to motivate others.
The domino effect is real.
THIS WEEK'S EVOLUTION
This week, I ask that you take a look at who you're eligible to vote for and just try and understand their points of view.
Something that I've found very helpful is a resource the American Institute of Architects came out with earlier this year ahead of the primary elections. It is a guide to the candidates and their stances on specific issues. If you missed the debates, this could be a helpful resource.
Election 2016 Candidate Profiles (AIA)
I've known who I'd vote for President since the candidates were officially recognized by the major parties. But this is not a message to sway your decision, simply to motivate you to participate.
I believe that, as Architects, we are not only the ones helping to design and build shelter for our communities, but we are also the ones who are meant to help shape our country into something better.
Being involved is one of the best ways you can affect change.
I'll see you out there this November.