Thanks for a great conference!

From our beginnings at the national conference in 2010 in New Orleans, we’ve always done things a little differently. That year, instead of holding an early morning strategy meeting of our 10 core people over an expensive convention center breakfast spread, we plastered the conference with colorful posters directing people to a raucous off-site launch party at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar.* (Want more history? Read it here.)

Last week, when we held our first reception as an official APA Division at the national conference in Chicago, we also got creative. Instead of either a formal but productive business meeting or an informal but unproductive party, we combined both for an informal and productive Reception featuring an interactive digital map of best practices, real-time voting on priorities, and a “tree” of member wishes for our Division. Not to mention drinks, food, and lots of networking.

We’re still processing all the feedback we got and will report on the results in the next email bulletin – along with ways you can get involved in our next steps. For now, here’s a quick snapshot of what happened:

  • Our Facilitated Discussion on mobilizing sustainability in APA’s State Chapters drew about 40 people. Attendees learned about the efforts of four state chapters with sustainability committees, and then broke into small discussion groups to talk about further collaboration opportunities.
  • Our By-Right Session on sustainability best practices drew over 300 people, and featured stories from communities setting high standards in community sustainability planning practice.
  • And our Sunday afternoon Reception / Meeting drew over 150 people who told us what they wanted to see this Division accomplish, added their own best practices to an interactive digital map, and signed up to volunteer on our activities. We also gave away print copies of our first quarterly newsletter, which you can read here.

I want to extend an enormous THANK YOU to all the folks who organized the reception and volunteered at the stations – especially our core organizing committee of Rob Kerns, Michael Davidson, and Ramona Mullahey! Thanks also to Carine Arendes, Anne Miller, Scott Edmondson, Jennie Nolon, and Deb Lawlor, who organized our facilitated discussion and our session. And many, many thanks to our generous sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible!

If you’re a member of this Division, thank you for supporting and being part of this work. If you’re not a member, please do consider joining. It’s a tall order to push sustainability to the forefront of the planning profession – we’ll need all the help we can get!

Daniel Lerch

* We were also only a couple hundred dollars of hiring a small traditional New Orleans marching jazz band to lead folks from the convention center to the bar. I’m not kidding.


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