At the end of September, I carved out a few days of vacation time and ventured to Rome, where I ate plenty of fresh pasta, drank my share of Italian wine, and took in the many, many sights. Among them was the Roman Forum, the heart of the ancient city and empire.
There are many spots of interest among the ruins, such as the Arch of Septimius Severus and the temples of Saturn and Caesar. But the one that remains stuck in my mind is a now-nondescript brick platform. In its day, the Rostra was the place to be seen and, more importantly, heard. Located in the northwest corner of the Forum, it served as a stage from which speakers addressed their countrymen, giving voice to their arguments, concerns, and campaigns.
Today, many versions of the Rostra exist for people to express their views to a local and global audience—thanks to the interconnectedness of the Web and the immediacy of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. I consider this column to be one of my platforms, and in that spirit, here is my declaration: It’s time to find your own Rostra and make yourself heard.
We are in the midst of an important window of time, when your opinions can sway policy on many levels. Most prominent, of course, is the current U.S. election cycle. As someone who emigrated to the U.S. and lived here for 16 years before receiving the right to cast my own vote, I have never understood the apathy of those who choose not to check the box of their choice. The excuse that one vote out of millions does not matter is, in my opinion, lame. Get involved, pay attention, decide which candidates best represent your needs and philosophies, and get to the voting booth on Nov. 6.
In our smaller, professional corner of the universe, now is the time to opine on the proposed changes to the LEED rating systems. As we chronicled online in June at eco-structure.com, the USGBC delayed the ballot vote on the system update until Summer 2013 in order to allow for additional feedback and refinement, and then added an unprecedented fifth public comment period. Don’t miss your chance to speak up on LEED v4: The comment period—anticipated to be the last before the ballot vote—is accepting commentary online until Dec. 10.
Visit new.usgbc.org/leed/v4 to review the drafts and summaries of changes from the fourth public comment period to the fifth. This is also where you can share your thoughts, pro or con. So, a few notes to keep in mind: You can submit one set of comments per individual credit, and comments may not be edited once they are submitted. There are two ways to submit comments, as detailed on the USGBC site. First is via the credit library, where you can select a specific credit for comment. Second is via the LEEDuser forum at leeduser.com. In both locations, representatives of USGBC member and nonmember organizations are encouraged to submit comments collectively, so get your ducks in a row.
I’m not one for inspirational quotes, but the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” commonly (and incorrectly) attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, seems most appropriate now. Step up and participate. Whatever you choose to be your Rostra, make your voice heard.