From Chapter President Joshua Clements
Planners are embedded throughout our governance ecosystem, as public, private, non-profit professionals, and citizen planners at all levels. Among planners are social scientists, natural scientists, technocrats, civil servants, entrepreneurs, advisors, consultants, provocateurs, advocates, community organizers and more. Our work impacts nearly every aspect of our communities, from land-use patterns and transportation, to environmental quality and social equity.
Critical to governance, planners function at the front-lines of the continual process of making and remaking our places in pursuit of our communities’ collective vision. The wicked problems of our present age, including (but certainly not limited to) Covid-19 and associated fallout, housing affordability and access, deepening income and social inequality, runaway climate change and environmental degradation, political division and aggressive distrust, are perhaps the most vexing and threatening conditions we’ve faced in our lifetimes. The world is changing and we are within a punctuated period of upheaval, restructuring and disruption. These challenges make our lives and our jobs much more difficult, and yet more critical and necessary.
If you’re reading this, you very likely are a practicing planner, collaborating professional or engaged resident, and these observations are not revelations. I think it is important to reflect upon the nature of the planning profession, our roles within our communities, our spheres of influence, what we’re able to accomplish when we stretch, when we lean in, when we work together. Why did we pursue this line of work, anyway? I’m guessing you are driven by a mission of public service, concern for our common society, and a desire to make the world a better place. How can we rekindle and maintain that inspiration and motivation in world where our duties and routines snuff out that fire, where our sharp edges are ground down by the daily routine and immensity of our problems, where we are regularly diverted to other, seemingly mundane tasks? How can we rediscover and sustain that passion within the context of our daily lives?
As a professional association, the purpose of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association lies in “creating great communities for all” by advancing the practice of members and positive impact of planning through continuing education, networking, and policy advocacy as a community of practice. Our focus is our profession and members in Wisconsin, but the Chapter exists within the broader professional and organizational ecosystem of APA that provides opportunities for additional breadth and depth of resources and support. Our communities are never absent from challenge and change. However, the daunting challenges of our present age are perhaps the most vexing and threatening conditions we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Each of us have limited capacity and bandwidth to seek evidence-based resources to apply to the many situations we face in our practice. APA is designed to be a valuable resource as we collectively support and equip our profession and practice to do our very best. I am humbled to guide our volunteer board for 2020 – 2021 as we work to support one-another and serve our communities in these truly difficult and unprecedented times.