Architecture is a unique profession in that it involves both the practical and the spiritual. Architects must not only understand engineering, building construction, zoning, codes, legal concerns, technical data on products, economics, construction practices, etc., but also are expected by clients, building departments, constructors, and society in general to be experts at all of them, in addition, while achieving these demanding tasks, architects must create designs for structures and the environment that ennoble and excite the human spirit. We are trained and tested to do all of this before we're allowed to call ourselves architects.
Architecture is all around us and affects people in countless ways each day - how they live, play, work, study, shop and play. The great excitement of architecture is that is that it is a "people" business. It is not successful architecture if it doesn't work for people. Anything less is perhaps art or sculpture; certainly it is ego gone awry.
Architects should be enlightened professionals sensitive to their impact on the fabric of society. Those who make positive contribution to the world around them are those who are involved in the improvement of their profession and their community. Some get involved in church, service organizations, chambers of commerce, charitable and ethnic social causes. Others are active in various professional organizations such as the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA), the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), the American Land Planners Association (ALPA), etc. They want to give something back and contribute to others. This is important because how we practice architecture is intrinsic to the degree of success we achieve personally and how that success is measured in social impact.
What we do affect more than our clients, it affects the local community. Because SARA starts with a marvelous principle of "Architect Helping Architect", it is set apart in that the Society of American Registered Architects is not self-serving and competitive but truly open in its membership and attitude. There are no "trade secrets" to be covered. Membership is based solely on the fact that you are a registered/licensed architect who wants to join and take part in the various benefits of membership. You don't have to be "sponsored" reviewed and approved for membership by vote of some committee. If you're an architect, you can be a member. It also doesn't have different classes of membership for architects, no special fees mandated. and no corporate structure. Each member is an individual and the national dues are the same in New York, Illinois, and California. Local chapters and state councils are funded by membership dues distributed via national headquarters. The only voluntary contribution is the Student Scholarship Fund. The only requirement of membership is that you care about yourself, your fellow architects and your profession.
Membership in SARA offers you the opportunity to learn, to share and grow as an architect and as a person. If you participate in local meetings, attend seminars, enter competition, attend conferences, read the various newsletters and magazines, you can gain knowledge and strength. We cannot have enough architects involved in their profession and their societ. There may be ways we can work together with other architectural organizations. And those SARA members who belong to many other groups are doing just that. But some people are more comfortable, feel more involved and therefore produce more beneficial work for SARA.