"The Year of Awareness: A Call to Action" was the theme for enlighten 2006, the International Association of Lighting Designers' (IALD) annual education conference. Held at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, the sunny location made an equally strong impression on the 200-plus attendees, as did the conference agenda.

Presentations during the two-day event covered a range of pressing topics. Gregg D. Ander, chief architect of Southern California Edison, who discussed energy efficiency and load management issues, delivered the opening session. An insightful talk on the different characteristics of America's five generations--G.I.s; Silents; Baby Boomers; Gen Xers; and Millennials--by Chuck Underwood, president of the Generation Imperative, proved to be another conference highlight.

One of the more interesting, albeit confused discussions took place during the Town Hall Meeting. The question posed for this moderated debate between IALD president Graham Phoenix and recently-named IALD fellow Jim Benya was: Should the IALD change its ethics and have a more open membership? Phoenix argued that the current code of ethics and resulting membership criteria should remain intact, less there be a loss of professional integrity and client confidence. Benya countered that the current membership rules are too limiting, adversely affecting the profession's recognition by allied design professions such as architecture, as well as the general public. At times it seemed as if two different topics were being debated, leaving this editor to wonder is there not a way to retain a professional code of ethics, and still find compatible methods for growing the IALD membership?

In keeping with the education theme, 16 students from lighting and design programs in the United States and Canada attended the conference thanks to support from the IALD Education Trust. Their schedules were kept busy with a presentation by Rogier van der Heide of Arup Lighting, portfolio review sessions, and a design charrette resulting in four landscape lighting installations called "Light Play" on view during the final evening activities.

Thought-provoking discussions and inspired surroundings characterized the event. The question is: will participants take heed of the conference theme--a call to action? Only the coming year will tell.