Pine House Edible Gardens
Garden designed by Leslie Bennett, Pine House Edible Gardens. Photo: David Fenton

A Note From APLDWA Board President:

Dear APLDWA Designers,

I didn't know.

I understood that I have privilege and that I likely hold biases. But the systemic inequities people of color face in our nation and culture were often hidden from my world view. Now that I am awakening to this brutal phenomenon, I am compelled to do something. But what to do?

I don't know.

As the Black Lives Matter movement captured our attention and passion this spring, a significant number of our chapter members participated in a Google Groups email discussion, asking if our association is taking a role in the change we want to see. I reached out to these folks who raised their voices and invited them to connect. This evolved into a small task force doing their best to represent our membership and what our membership can and should be. More members on this task force would be most welcome. And we foresee that this task force will become a permanent committee within APLDWA because it will remain a priority from here forward.

This article will share where we've come in the last few months and where we might go. We find ourselves stumbling over our wording and sensitivity, with more questions than answers to how we become part of change.

So please join us as we continue important conversations.



In the last year, we have witnessed a global pandemic, dramatic indicators of climate change, threats to our democracy, widespread economic hardships, and voices calling for racial justice. Why do we need you to read on? Because change starts with awareness.

As APLD members, we see an urgent need to take an active role as changemakers.

Pine House Edible Gardens
Designer Leslie Bennett, Pine House Edible Gardens Photo: Caitlin Atkinson

Members began asking us not to turn away or be complacent, but to say something, to start somewhere. So we are taking a closer look at equity, diversity, and inclusivity. This look is focusing on our need to create a diverse and inclusive organization and this is motivated not only by altruism, but by necessity as it is essential to our continued relevance in the future.

We want to attract the next generation of talented, diverse designers to APLD. To do this, we need to educate ourselves about what prevents marginalized communities from joining our membership and our industry. Self-education also leads to self-examination of how our work and design define us and how we can extend our reach into underserved areas and communities by emphasizing sustainable, resilient, and culturally-sensitive design.

The "why" is easier than the "how," so we ask you to join us in developing our action plan.

Stepping Stones

What do we know, want to know, and what are some beginning points?

  • We know that we do not know enough or how deep we need to go to get to change.
  • We know that listening to marginalized people's voices is our path forward. We are compiling a list of media sources to present stories and perspectives that we need to hear.
  • We know our language, outreach, and mission statement need examination and clarity to reflect diversity.
  • We know that not many people in our organization identify with the groups of marginalized people.
  • We need to educate ourselves on our blind spots and brainstorm ways to reach out to marginalized groups.
  • We need to seek outside organizations from whom we can widen our scope and mission through collaboration and advocacy.
  • We need to dedicate ourselves to diversity, equality, and inclusion and ask all our members to seek ways to be of like mind.

Starting Points, Action Items

Social Media and Websites

Abra Lee with Conquer the Soil
Abra Lee with Conquer the Soil


Urban Studio logo
photo credit Urban Studio


Riz Reyes with RHR Horticulture
Riz Reyes with RHR Horticulture, Photo: Tom Marks, for Organic Gardening Magazine.

Gardening for the Future: Diversity and Ecology in the Urban Landscape
Northwest Horticultural Society 2020 Symposium

As gardeners, we know that diversity in our gardens is the key to a healthy ecosystem in our neighborhoods. It is not a leap to say the same for our society. The NHS 2020 virtual symposium features a dynamic and thought-provoking series of lectures that explore these relationships. This fresh take on horticulture in our region is designed to challenge our traditional views and expand the way we view our gardens and the world we garden in.

Riz Reyes, local horticulturist with RHR Horticulture, is one of the panelists speaking on Getting to Know the Northwest Asian Garden Community.

Moving Forward

We would like to hear from you. What can you share, what are your personal action items, how can the task force help you? Please comment, share a website, or social media platform, write to us about someone you know, who is making a difference, and join our task force.

Kevin Monohan, APLDWA president