Newsletter: Will we become the APA’s 20th Division?

After collecting 1,000 subscribers to our mailing list and (as of yesterday) a cool 2,000 members to our LinkedIn site — and after much discussion among our core group and with our allies elsewhere in APA — we’ve decided we’re going to start the process to become the American Planning Association’s 20th Division!

What will it mean for us to become a Division? How can you help? Who was our 2,000th member? Read on…

Richard Wyatt mural, Los Angeles Union Station

Richard Wyatt mural, Los Angeles Union Station

Next Stop: Division Status

This group started back in 2007 with the intention of becoming APA’s first Division completely focused on sustainability. A lot has since happened, including the decision to be a more informal Interest Group for a while.

But recent developments have led us to decide that now’s the time for the big step. Here’s why:

  • APA needs a sustainability-focused Division now more than ever.APA leadership has embraced  the integration of sustainability thinking into planning practice. But it’s a tall order—and meanwhile, sustainability is quickly spreading through the profession in a variety of forms. Other Divisions deal with specific aspects of sustainability, but a new Division focused on the broader issue of sustainability as planning will help APA track, research, and direct this important stage of the profession’s evolution.
  • We need a more institutionalized structure and presence.We’ve grown faster and larger than just about any other APA member group—but we’ve also long struggled with activating our  membership on meaningful projects. Becoming a Division will give our members many more ways to plug in to APA, and will give our core team the structure and funding to do some truly meaningful work.

Over the summer we’ll be getting materials together for our formal proposal to APA at the Division Council and Board meetings in September. How can you help in the meantime? Two ways:

  1. Participate in our scoping discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere.To help develop our Division Work Plan we need to know what YOU know (and what you want to see happen) about sustainability in planning. We’ve had some great preliminary conversations at our LinkedIn site, and we’re looking at using more sophisitcated tools like MindMixer to further digest things.
  2. Become a Charter Member of the Division.The more people we have pre-registered (and paid) when APA officially approves us this Fall, the faster we can get to work. If you’d like to be a Charter Member, tell us and we’ll prompt you to register when the time is right.

Meet Member No. 2,000!

recently joined members

One of these fine folks recently became our 2,000th member on LinkedIn! We asked some of them why they’re interested in sustainable community planning:

  • Amanda Schoonover, Princeton (NJ) Chamber of Commerce”Sustainable community planning isn’t just a hip term for designing attractive ‘green’ spaces; it’s the key to a global society free of poverty, preventable disease and environmental decay.”
  • Uzma Noormohamed, Foresight Design Initiative, Chicago”Sustainability intrigues me because it’s a powerful tool to analyze a whole system rather than parts of it at a time. I’ve found the concept especially useful applied to development strategies that are otherwise compartmentalized and, as a result, inefficient and expensive. I’d like to see more collaborations like the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative in which the EPA, DOT, and HUD are collaborating to identify opportunities to plan together and build resilient communities. My biggest concern about sustainability is that it’s largely characterized as an environmental concept rather than one that balances multiple values and impacts.”
  • Jennifer Armer, Institute for Local Government, Sacramento”For me, sustainability is integral to every part of planning and reaches into so many fields: the built environment, financial planning, economics, environmental concerns, healthy living, etc. This is why I am so excited to have just started in my new position of Sustainable Communities Program Coordinator for ILG. We have just launched the Sustainable Communities Learning Network, a project of ILG where sustainability practitioners in California can connect and exchange information, discuss best practices, seek feedback on project ideas and discuss challenges. I hope our groups can work together!”

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