Here with My Peeps
By: Katie Bannon, AICP, Chapter President
“It always feels good to be back here with my peeps,” Cynthia Bowen, FAICP, APA President, opened the meeting where planners from across the country were gathered in New Orleans. No, not the National Planning Conference. The APA Leadership Meetings. Every spring and fall, the President of every chapter is invited to Chapters Presidents Council (CPC) meetings to discuss APA business and issues that affect APA chapters. Divisions Council (DC) Chairs and the Student Representatives Council (SRC) Executive Committee also hold their meetings during this time.
Leadership meetings began on the Thursday before the National Planning Conference. First, CPC, DC, and SRC attended a Leadership Plenary. Several initiatives were announced, including Planning Home, an affordable housing initiative. As a planner that works in community development and affordable housing, I’m excited to see APA’s renewed focus on the importance of safe, decent, affordable housing in communities. I also learned that APA Learn, an online educational tool, will be released soon. Look for more webinars and interactive online learning opportunities to be available. APA has also been hard at work communicating about planning principles and priorities at the federal level. After the plenary, Chapter Presidents attended an informal reception to meet other Presidents in their region.
Friday’s meetings began at 8:00 AM with CPC Committee Meetings. Each President chooses one CPC committee to serve on: Advocacy and Policy, Certification and Education, Communications, or Membership. I currently serve on the Membership Committee. Major topics of discussion were increasing Chapter-Only memberships among Citizen Planners, Plan Commission, and Board of Zoning Appeals members and how to better engage student members. The Membership Committee also discussed the importance welcoming and connecting with new members by personalizing new member onboarding.
The CPC Business Meeting was up next. The meeting is also called “The Box” because all the Chapter Presidents are seated alphabetically around a large rectangle. This year’s CPC business meeting agenda included adopting a CPC Annual Work Plan, reviewing CPC’s budget report, and updates from committees both within CPC and from DC, AICP, APA and others. APA shared updates about the upcoming Planning for Equity Policy Guide. Here’s some information about the future policy guide:
The committee’s approach to the policy guide is based on two simple, yet bold ideas:
1. Planning for equity is not an extra for planners; it should be practiced as a core skill.
2. Equity should be at the core of all planning policies.
The policy guide will explore these ideas in a number of ways including:
• A candid discussion on the past role of planning and planners in creating inequities
• The power of the field to both rectify past practices while also ensuring that new practices will not create future inequities
• An examination of cross-cutting topics such as gentrification and displacement, environmental justice, and community engagement and empowerment
• A survey of specific policies in action to consider when planning for equity
A blog post I hadn’t previously read was mentioned, Creating a Diversity Committee: Lesson’s from APA’s New York Metro Chapter. CPC discussed how APA’s membership does not adequately represent the diversity of the people we serve and that we need to do more to attract and engage more diverse planners and planning officials.
After the business meeting, CPC members exchanged ideas and participated in a team building exercise. At the end of the day, CPC, DC, and SRC all came together to brainstorm how to increase student engagement. I especially appreciated hearing from all the SRC members in attendance.
While the items discussed and voted on at the CPC meetings were important, I found that the informal discussions between Chapter Presidents were even more valuable. Preparing to leave my office to attend CPC meetings for a few days felt stressful, but as soon as I arrived to be among my “planning peeps,” I felt re-energized about both about the work I do at the City of Indianapolis as well as with APA-Indiana. Happy Spring, Peeps!