Attending the American Planning Association National Conference

By John Gardocki, GOPC Undergraduate Intern The APA held its national conference in Chicago this year with the theme of “Planning Big.”  The conference was in April and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the conference as a student member of the APA. The planners and speakers were willing to share their unique experiences in all the panels and to discuss the challenges the planning sector commonly faces.


The keynote on the second day of the conference was developed to inspire the next generation of planners to be creative in the design of the American city form. Xavier De Souza Briggs, an associate professor at MIT; gave the keynote, "Inventing the Next American Economy: Why Planning Matters and Where the Pitfalls Lie.” He stressed that all cities are looking to retain and gain jobs; however, the current economics of tax incentives will not entice the technology jobs that sustain the 21st century graduate.

Earl Blumenauer, a U.S. Congressman representing Portland, Oregon, spoke as well about what Congress must do to enhance the planner’s job of sustaining America for generations to come.  He is an advocate for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative created by President Obama to unify projects in the Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development Department, and the Department of Transportation.

My experience at the conference has inspired me to think creatively about planning since a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in every city that needs revitalization. Chicago is investing in an elevated train railway to become a hotspot of activity, while Cincinnati is investing in its riverfront.  Both ideas are specific to the needs of each city.