Letter from the New Division Chair

TurnerI am excited to assume the position of Chair of the Sustainable Communities Division. The Division’s dedicated and passionate group of members and volunteers have worked extremely hard to build it into one of the strongest Divisions within APA. Over the past few years, the Division has experienced tremendous growth in a number of areas and has shown strong leadership in promoting sustainability both within the Division and throughout APA. The Division is still fairly young and is in the process of further developing many of these programs and the progress so far has been remarkable.

Over the next couple of years my hope is that the growth of the Division will continue along its current trajectory. In terms of overall membership, we are currently close to 550 members and growing. We have over 4,200 LinkedIn Members, over 1,000 followers on Twitter, and over 1,400 e-bulletin subscribers. Our bi-weekly e-bulletin, which has outstanding content, was recently recognized at the 2015 National Conference at the APA and AICP Annual Meeting and Leadership Honors Ceremony. Congratulations to Stephanie Weigel and Beth Otto who work so hard to develop and publish the e-bulletin every couple of weeks. The Division also won the Annual Branding Award which recognizes our efforts to communicate through one brand, telling the sustainable planning story with one voice.

At the National Conference in Seattle we had an incredibly successful reception along with the Urban Design and Preservation and International Division. During this reception, we presented our Second Annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability. We presented awards in eight different categories. The quality of applications was extremely high and the judging difficult, which is a testament to the increased focus on sustainable planning and design in general but also an acknowledgement of the Awards program. Thank you to Becky Bradley who worked so hard to administer the program and congratulations to all of the applicants and award winners. We are looking forward to continue to grow this program as well.

Exciting work is occurring with our pilot Sustainability Champions program. We currently have twelve Sustainability Champions in eleven states representing each APA region. Sustainability champions are currently working on their agendas for the following year and we hope to continue with the momentum of this program. Thank you to Anne Miller for facilitating this program.

Earlier this year the Division began our webinar program with a joint webinar with Audubon International. We are looking forward to providing additional webinars over the coming year for AICP credit. Thank you to Jenny Koch for organizing the webinars.

The Division’s sponsor program also continues to grow. Currently we have 10 sponsors including Clarion, Dewberry, Farr Associates, ICLEI, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, mySidewalk by MindMixer, Nitsch Engineering, Teska Associates, VHB, and WRT. Thank you to our current sponsors and we look forward to expanding our sponsorship program in the upcoming year.
Some of our most exciting work will continue to be led by Rob Kerns, our outgoing Division Chair. Rob has been highly involved with two very important and exciting initiatives, the update to the Sustainability Policy Guide and the Smart Cities and Sustainability Task Force. During the National Conference, Rob presented an update to the Sustainability Policy Guide to the APA Delegates assembly and is currently soliciting feedback on the document. He is also leading the Smart Cities and Sustainability Task Force which explores how technology can be applied to the field of planning and communities in general. We are extremely lucky to have Rob remain involved with the Division, and with these two important initiatives in particular.

I am extremely optimistic about the growth and future of our Division. We have great people involved that have brought us this far already. We are hopeful that more of you will join us as we continue to expand the Division and all of our initiatives. I truly feel that the value of membership in any organization is dependent on the level of involvement of individual members. Please feel free to contact me or any member of our executive committee if you have interest in getting more involved with the Division. We have opportunities for involvement with any of the initiatives I have described above.

I look forward to working with you all over the next couple of years. Please feel free to contact me directly at sturner@nitscheng.com if you have any comments, questions, or concerns.


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