Landscape Institute organization

The UK Landscape Institute should consider itself in the position of Robert the Bruce in a cave on Rathlin Island in the winter of 1305 watching a spider trying to make connections from one area of the cave’s roof to another. The LI has achieved good things but has suffered defeats. It should seize the breathing space offered by the recession to think again and plan for the future. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.’ Are the problems interconnected? Does the Constitution need to be revised?
The LI has lost too much  money. It  is out of touch with its membership. Its public profile is too low. Its recruitment is far too low. Major opportunities in garden design and landscape planning have been missed. It has too little influence on government policy. There is no PPG Note on landscape matters. UK landscape architects have not achieved the international renown enjoyed by other categories of British designer (eg architects). The LI Journal is a monthly disappointment. The organization is timid and tepid: not hot and yet uncool.
A symptom of the malaise is the complete redesign of the logo, journal and website every few years. Landscape design should be a classic brand – with new leadership and more responsive organization. The forthcoming Council elections are a time for change.

10 thoughts on “Landscape Institute organization

  1. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    You have forgotten to mention fear.

    Why are British Landscape Architects so afraid of a few corrupt public school boys having it large with our money and laughing in our faces?

    Where is the problem in denouncing them publicly and sitting them in front of a judge?

    Who else is behind this organised rip-off?

    I am still awaiting for answers to my questions. Some of them just require a monosyllabic reply.

    It has already taken too long for this disgusting lot to reply.

    The stench is insuferable, who so many grown up professionals put up with it, is beyond my understanding.

    The Constitution is a Joke and the Code of Conduct is nothing but a brick to throw at people like me and toilet paper to wipe some self-important arses overstaying at our instituions.

    There is no way out within the House of Destitute, it is time to shut the whole thing down, and flush the unsavoury turds clinging to our name away on our way out.

    I see you all in the Society of Garden Designers, they make more money than us, and they are nicer!

    Gabino Carballo

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    I do not think they are afraid: I think they are lazy. People pay subscriptions to professional societies because they think it will bring them work. Its like paying for something which is half-advertisement and half-endorsement. So having paid the money, they don’t see why they should do anything else. It is sloth. Trade unions used to operate in the same way but when union membership went into a decline the officials started worrying about what else they could do for their members. One day, the LI will start worrying about this.

  3. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    I cannot agree with the “sloth theory”. As far as I can remember any one of my British peers was harder working than me, in my days over in the UK. LA’s work hard enough at convincing their clients and employers that they generate enough value for them to deserve to be paid a half a decent wage on a regular basis.

    If the “pay-to-get endorsement theory” is correct, then I need to stop paying my subscription and being a pain in the ass about the stench of mismanagement and corruption emanating from that rotten institution. I get nothing from it other than scorn and disrespect: my views have been variosly called “hysterical, libellous, agressive and rude”. If that was the case, it would not take weeks for these morons to reply, but it is enough to see the lack of qualifications of some of our most outstanding employees to understand that this people cannot tell their arse from their own neighbour’s at best, and they are equally confortable with their heads stuck either way.

    I still think that Fear is a key factor. I have received several messages in my Inbox from various memberes and a lot of them are about the need to keep this affair quiet first and not expossing themselves, second, even if the agree with my position, in principle.

    Indifference is another one, and this has been hugely promoted by the LI. Enough to see the bland trash that the Journal used to publish to see that the profession “intellectual pool” has been delibrately dumbed down to bring us all in lane into inefectual intellectual mediocrity.

    Education is another factor: our training simply lacks the basicprofessional and intellectual tools to confront issues such as this properly. All the better for a few “smart” ones to confound with a few fireworks over here and over there. I feel that the sooner we add financial, business and project management, along with corporate ethics to our syllabus, all the better. If not we will continue to be the great underpaid dogsbody of the Construction industry.

    There is another factor and that a rather British cultural trait: the need to “be seen” to be doing the right thing. Also called Hypocrisy in unstructured and backwards places like my country.

    I have noticed that, in the UK, those at the pile’s bottom (not a pun) must be seen as being polite and deferential to those at the top, even if they hate each other, if you ever expect TO TAKE YOUR SLICE OF THE CAKE and your place near the top. Licking ass is paramount in this game. I must say I am pretty bad at it.

    SO, if you are being pissed on from high above, it is good manners to say that it is raining and how nice it is, and keep waiting for your turn to move up the ladder and hope that some poor bugger will take the brunt of it.

    Not surprisingly, unqualified idiots promoted to positions beyond their ability feel entitled to vandalising other people’s lives and efforts, having it large and generally misbehaving when they think nobody is looking. I see “Brits abroad” from all walks of life on a daily basis: not a pretty sight, if you ask me.

    Of course, if you do not keep this kind of misbehaviour under chack from time to time, you get excess. Suddenly, they are no longer pissing on us. It is a lot more unpleasant than that, but the innate reaction is to smile and say “It’s turned up nice again”.

    Or perhpas “It’s turded up nice again”. Whatever happened to VIZ…

    The same self important idiots that have borught about this disastrous situation have given me a dress down for “berating LI employees unfairly”. Yet, they are happy to sack up to a third of the employees to save money, cover up their incompetence and ,very possibly, their delinquent behaviour. I am hysterical, for sure. It is one of my many defects, but not a particularly serious one

    They have serious defects: They destroy lives and mislead people. They are irresponsible. They have large with other people’s money and they suffer with moral cowardice. They are nothing but SCUM.

    And when Mr Williams writes, very cynically, on the Talking Landscapes Forum (which I am banned from by the way) that “it would be good to meet” all I can say is that, yes, it would be good to meet, if he fancies a spot of abuse, slander and a kick in the ass from a Spaniard that feels conned, cheated and insulted by a bunch of dishonest prats and mediocres.

    I am still waiting for the reply to my letter and it is long overdue.

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    There is a good stockmarket newsletter called Fear and Greed and for landscape matters, too, there are contradictory emotions. I don’t think you can discount sloth and I don’t think I sould discount fear. Politeness is also a consideration, as when a prisoner asks ‘Excuse me sir, but would you mind lifting your boot off my testicles’.
    I have been trying to conduct a discussion on Talking Landscapes but am really surprised by how little response there has been, either from Council members or from LI members. Or course they are busy in their offices but things have reached a worrying condition and as the king said ‘something must be done’. I am very sorry that you have been excluded from the debate and will continue to press for your being invited back onto the Forum.

  5. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    The problem with fear is that it is rooted in our psyche.

    I have also suffered from the “what if I ever have to get a job from one of these jerks” syndrome. LA is a very small professional pool to be a little fish in. People involved with the sort of mismanagement and wrong doing that I have identified goes back a long way, possibly a decade, all the way to Stu Royston’s golden days, and they all seem to have been working at the “Lovejuice” factory at one point or another.

    That is a hell of a “vested interest clique” for anybody to mess about with, even if they are mostly a bunch of ineffectual wannabe semi-posh mediocres 95% of the time. You can see that if they pooled all their resources together (which they will not do for anything meritable or decent) they could make your professional life pretty miserable in the UK.

    I can do what I do because I have nothing to lose. And because I believe that I am doing the right thing, which has merit in itself (Something that our President and the rest of the miserable cowards in his entourage will never experince in his entire existence)

    As for testicles, I thought that it was part of my Part IV qualifications to have them removed slice by slice until I reach the top of the ladder, when I would have none left. Just like those dishonourable dorks we are forced to call “trustees”. What a misnomer.

    Anyway, the Charity Comission has replied twice to my letter since I wrote to them, AFTER writing to Mr Williamson. What a difference with our beloved Institute.

    I am hysterical, libellous and rude. It should not take so long to dismiss my rants.

    What is it that they are, then? Plain incapable or just dishonest? You chose.

  6. Gabino Carballo

    Just in case there any doubts about my last statement:

    Director of policy and communications Paul Lincoln said the move away from printed material was part of a drive to save cash. He would not reveal how much money was being saved, but told HW:

    “We are going to be saving an awful lot of paper and postage” (…)

    Paper and postage?, this guy does not think that we are imbeciles, he seriously believes that we think it too.

  7. Gabino Carballo

    This is a good one, and I cannot be blamed for it:

    “Landscape Institute types are calling boss Alistair McCapra Alistair McCrapa because of the institute’s £900,000 debts and redundancy programme. LI members get their weekly news from Hort Week on this”

    Must be said that LI employees nickname Mr Paul Lincoln “Mussolincoln”, probably with a good reason.

    You will not be getting any news from his “depratment” of “miscommunication” though…

  8. Gabino Carballo

    I feel that many are politely stepping over the big stumbling rock in the LI’s path to recovery:
    The membership and the wider world has been lied to and mislead about the true reasons for our problems. These have nothing to do with the “crisis”. They have to do with incompetent, reckless management, lack of oversight and, very possibly, wrong doing if not straight corruption. This is the issue, and no other.

    I have already stated my scepticism about our current Administrative Director, Mr McCapra, suitability for the post. He simply lacks the qualifications and experience required for this post and the way he has been appointed leaves much to be desired. He ignores the most basic facts about our profession and treats our institute as his. It is all about “I want to”, “I think that” and so on. With regards to the archive, his behaviour resembles some kind of personal vendetta against our heritage.

    For instance, he states, and I quote from Talking Landscapes:

    “The options are as follows:

    Option 1 – retain the library and archive in the hands of a professional body which will always be small, never have huge amounts of money, always have many other calls on its attention and resources, and no adequate conservation measures for some of its key heritage assets. This is held by some to be the best of all possible options.

    Option 2- transfer the collections to a large, well-funded library, with the resources and capacity to preserve it, develop it and make it more widely accessible to students and scholars, as well as employing professional archivists, with proper conservation equipment, temperature and humidity controls. This option is regarded by some as a mortal threat and has been likened to setting fire to the collections.”

    Please notice his lack of intellectual integrity, his ignorance and complete disregard for the facts.

    The Landscape Institute has had huge income and will continue to have huge income in the future, as 60% of it comes from pockets such as mine. We can afford to maintain the archive as per Point 2, we just need honest and capable people making the right decissions at the right time. We need to stop spending money on useless Departments, such as Communitions and Policy, stop that trashy and useless marketing waste of time “Iwanttobeacompletetosser” and such pointless initiatives.

    What we need is to cut back in unnecessary staff, appoint properly qualified staff, PAY THEM WELL to do their work well and keep a close eye on all strategic decissions, which must rest in the hands of Landscape Architects at all times.

    Then we will have the money, the time and the right environment to look after OUR heritage.

    Mr McCapra’s views are vandalic, yobbish, and simply wrong and he needs to stop working against members. What he is doing now is to keep the President’s and Trustees pants up with his teeth whilst he tries to confound Memebers with his self-important Managerial Mumbo-Jumbo and pomposity. I am not sure what he’s doing with his hands, but I would like to ask him to take them out of my pocket: he is grabbing something other than my wallet, right now.

    The shabby and unjust treatment I have suffered at his hands depicts his character as rather controlling and manipulative. Abusing his position and riding high over Members rights is not beneath him, very much the opposite.

    The fact that neither the President not the Trustees have acted to correct the situation and assert my rights, is an stark example of the moral cowardice and lack of ethical backbone that corrodes our Institute. They are more than ready to sacrifice our institute and bury our profession in order to save their tattered reputation and their fake chumminess. Assasinating my name and reputation means nothing to them, I am just another paying dork, suffering their largesse with money that is not theirs.

    This has to stop!

  9. Jim Mairs

    In response to the email sent by Tom Turner regarding the state of the LI

    I fundamentally agree with your comments as I have watched the Institute the since the mid 70s progressively become an irrelevance through its appalling changes of policy and an apparent unwillingness to listen to those warning of the consequences of such action. One member of the local chapter who has been in the profession for over 30 years made a simple, though profound statement about the Institute and the profession: He summed it up as being “a profession in terminal decline” and how right he was. .

    It is not uncommon, in the established professions of law, medicine, architecture and engineering for three and four generations to following in their parent’s chosen profession; yet in the past 40 years I have only met one person who followed their parent’s profession of landscape architecture and that was over 35 years ago. Clearly the profession is considered as an unsuitable occupation by those who are truly knowledgeable about the profession, its credibility, security of employment and earning capability.

    I am a member of the ASLA as well. It has been and continues to be, a very effective organisation as it represents the concerns and aspirations of its members and those members are landscape architects, not landscape managers or landscape scientists.. The ASLA is completely focused on the affairs of landscape architects and actively promotes the profession in a well coordinated manner and has considerable political influence through its endeavors. It is free from ambiguity, has a clear statement of purpose and does not suffer from the stupid schizophrenic characteristics of the LI which I see as the fundamental cause of the present demise. Let us not fall into the trap of assuming that the grass is greener on the other side of the pond. The earnings of landscape architects in the USA, from a quick check on the internet, indicated at they earn about a quarter that of a lawyer.

    What is the way forward?. As I see it; get back to basics. Strip the organization down and re-focus it. Get rid of the landscape managers and scientist. They are dead weight. Return it to the Institute of Landscape Architects and thereby create a new leaner organization dedicated to the its members and actively engaged in promoting the profession, generating work, creating employment opportunities and promotion prospects for Landscape architects. This is what we as Landscape architects need require and deserve. I would suggest that Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe clearly had very similar understanding of matters all those years ago. If the LI fails to deliver, as it has over the decades, then it does not deserve to exist and we, as professional landscape architects, will see our earning and prospects declining to the levels of gardeners. And lets face it, most people think we are glorified gardeners.

    This is a mess and I frankly do not think the situation will improve unless there is a radical approach. We need a much more businesslike approach. We need to see prospects and earning increase to attract the best people into the profession. I am sick and tired of hearing sandal shoed, tweed jacketed persons telling me that working in Landscape architecture is some kind of “Calling” and that earning as not important. What rubbish: This perverted mentality is what has got us into this mess.

    The Institute is 30 years too late in realising the problem. The solution will be painful and we are certain to see many P45’s being issued as a consequence of the lack of direction by the Institute.


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