Live From Vegas: Millennial Planners, Activist Planners, & The CE Soap Opera

Chris Steins's picture

Las Vegas Strip I'm at the Paris Hotel on the Vegas strip for the 100th annual American Planning Association (APA) conference, which started Saturday, and runs through Thursday, May 1. The conference offers 300 sessions and 60 mobile workshops to the approximately 5,000 participants.

And it's going to be a crowded week, if the 30-minute line for coffee this morning in the Paris boulangerie is any indication.

Infrastructure matters; Planners should be politically active.

These were the key messages Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) delivered to a standing-room only audience at the opening keynote address on Monday morning. Infrastructure is the foundation of the economy and our future security, and planners need to think creatively about planning for the future infrastructure.

As an example, he called for the US to renew its investment in passenger rail as an alternative for airline flights of under 350 miles, which are no longer economical as oil prices exceed $100 per barrel. He challenged planners to show their passion for planning by becoming more actively engaged in politics.

AICP Certification Maintenance

If you've been watching the unfolding soap opera of the AICP continuing education program roll out, the thorny issue of pricing remains unresolved. The highly anticipated meeting of the AICP Commission met Saturday to reconsider fees proposed by APA that training providers (including APA sections and divisions) will need to pay, after the original proposal was widely criticized.

The AICP Commission opted not to make a decision at the meeting, but to hold a conference call in a few weeks to decide what to do. The AICP Commission is reportedly concerned about the potential quality of training delivered via the Internet. APA has already posted an update on the discussion.

APA volunteers and staff were outside of most sessions scanning the badges of conference participants seeking AICP continuing education credit for their participation. In a couple cases, this has led to lines outside some popular sessions, but nothing remotely as long as the coffee line.

Jobs In Australia

If you're looking for a new job, consider Australia or New Zealand. Neil Savery, President of the Planning Institute of Australia and Keith Hall, AICP, Executive Director of the New Zealand Planning Association, joked at the APA Board of Directors meeting that both countries were suffering from a shortage of planning professionals, and well -- it's apparently not so hard to emigrate to either country. (In fact, Planetizen has a course for planners thinking about moving to Australia.)

The Next Generation of Planners

Quinn Fahey, Evan Johnson, AICP, and Monica Villalobos offered the APA Board of Directors a glimpse into the needs of the next generation of planners. Defined as the GenX and GenY/Millennials (generally, those under 35).

(If you haven't watched the CBS video on the Millennials, it's a must-see. I'm just old enough to be sympathetic and amused at the same time.)

The three are members of the APA's "Young Planners Task Force" established by APA President Robert Hunter, FAICP, to study how the newest generation of planners is different from their baby boomer managers in work approach and career goals. Their recommendations to APA included:

  • Improve secession planning: Preparing APA and employers for the coming demographic shift.
  • Revamp the website to increase access to fee-based content, increase technology-based social networking opportunities, and create a website focused on young leaders.
  • Use other forms of communication such as Facebook and MySpace.
  • Increase activities and events focused on young leaders.
  • Offer greater recognition of young leaders at the APA conference, and increase opportunities for participation at the conference.

Conference Blogs

Finally, you can keep up with the conference with several blogs that are offering regular coverage for the conference:

Photo Gallery

Some photos from the conference.

Paris, Las Vegas
Welcome to Paris.

Keynote address
Scanning registration banners for CM credit entering opening keynote.

Opening Keynote
Opening keynote session; standing room only.

Entrace to conference from Paris Walkway
Entrance to conference from Paris hotel.

APA Registration Area
Conference registration.

APA Conference Session, Planning for Green Infrastructure
Building green infrastructure conference session.

Las Vegas Monorail
The underused Las Vegas monorail.

Las Vegas Construction
Construction is everywhere, including right outside my hotel window.

Chris Steins is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.


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