July Update: APA policy guide and task force involvement, etc.

Here’s a quick update, followed by some thoughts on “Where Now?”:

Over the last month, six of us contributed edits and comments to the just-beginning update of the Policy Guide on Planning for Sustainability (2000), and Angela and I are helping the committee head get the draft into a form that can be passed on to the APA Legislative Committee. And as you saw in my earlier email we’re now weighing in on the SPTF report.

Online, our LinkedIn site is going gangbusters at 919 members and growing, and I’ve switched our static site over to a free WordPress site because Ning is increasing their monthly fee to $25/month; the home address is still the same, though, at http://sustainableplanning.net. I’ve also re-thought how I’m doing the newsletter to make it less time-consuming and (hopefully) more interesting, and will be sending out the first one of this new cycle today or tomorrow.

As one of the lead instigators of this group I’ve basically followed an approach of “Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks.” Now that we’ve been somewhat organized for a few years, here’s what I’ve seen that has stuck:

* LinkedIn site (http://tinyurl.com/apa-scp-linkedin) — Now over 900 members, and the conversations have taken on a life of their own. If you haven’t joined our LinkedIn site, PLEASE JOIN and participate — until and unless we develop something different, this is where the action now is.

* Behind-the-scenes connections — Thanks to the work and connections of people like Peter, Deb, Chris, Sarah, Ben, Angela, Ralph, Joyce, and others of you, we now have useful relationships with top APA leadership, sponsors who are well-respected in the profession, and untold numbers of other potential partners. And that has already helped us immensely in…

* …mobilizing our expertise — The Task Force report and the updated policy guide are already significantly influenced because of us, and there are other developments within APA (not to mention the profession as a whole) that I feel we could significantly influence if we organize intelligently.

And here’s what I’ve seen that hasn’t stuck:

– Project teams — This was a great idea (see https://apascd.wordpress.com/projects/), and a number of people (including Aaron, Dana, and Ramona) have worked with it. But in the end, it’s just understandably hard to get a bunch of very busy professionals to commit to volunteer projects that have little structure, no staffing, and often no clear deliverable. (I’ve now seen first-hand how even APA has a hard time using volunteer work even WITH structure, staffing, and clear deliverables!)

– Developing our own online content — We tried this about seven months ago when many of you submitted reports of conferences you’d attended or projects you’ve been involved with — which I then posted to our site and linked to from our newsletter. In retrospect this would have worked great in 2001, but in 2011 it’s a flop: that kind of stuff should go to LinkedIn, where both the eyeballs and the interactive infrastructure are.

– Monthly newsletters — I don’t think the newsletters have been useless, but they definitely haven’t been time-effective; we have an ~18% open rate and a ~2% click rate — which for a ~950-person mailing list doesn’t amount to a whole lot of people. As mentioned, I’m going to try a new method that focuses largely on reflecting what’s going on at LinkedIn.

So, there’s some food for thought for you all. In our business meetings at the conference we got our foundations firmly established, and developed some really good ideas of where this group could go (see the meeting notes I sent out in late April). Instead of asking you to mull things over individually and schedule another round of conference calls, I ask you to get involved in the LinkedIn site (or the Facebook site if that works better for you) and get some ideas flowing about what this group can accomplish.

Our group now has over 1,000 planners — plus APA’s leadership — who are interested in what we stand for, and who will give us some attention if we do something. That’s what we’ve built over two years, and it’s commendable and useful. So let do something interesting with it!



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