Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Director’s note

By Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, August 19, 2020

Stronger together …from afar

I started as Section Director half a year ago in what feels like a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent world. I saw 2020 as a year of vision and clarity. Now, looking back at my first Director’s Note, I can’t help but reflect on where this year has taken us so far. While not at all how I imagined it, this has been a year for re-eval­uat­ing prior­ities, val­ues, and fu­ture di­rec­tions.

Back then, my chal­lenge to every­one, in­clud­ing myself, was to commit to being a little terrified every day, which is what I was challenged to do on my first day at Facebook three-and-a-half years ago. I certainly am meeting that commitment, and I expect you are too, as we deal with ever-changing information on safety, a supply chain that struggles to meet the demand for essentials, and a jarring shift in the way we work, learn, and interact with others.

While we live in a time where hugs, handshakes, and being less than six feet apart from anyone not in our social bubble or “qauranteam” (especially without a mask) is temporarily a thing of the past, we’re fortunate to have the technology to stay connected while not physically close. We can hold a little device to see and talk to anyone nearly everywhere. We have social media to keep up with each other and to share in some of life’s moments. And we hold public meetings in new ways that we hope will broaden and increase participation.

We’re also at a point where we can’t ignore the injustices in our society and our role as planners to move us toward a more equitable and inclusive society. We still have a lot to learn and even more work to do, but we can and we must.

And even though we’re physically apart, we’re stronger together now because of our resilient nature and collective efforts, even if imperfect. It hasn’t been easy, but we are thriving even as we learn valuable lessons.

What lessons have you learned that you will share with others? How will you take the information about the new realities and turn it into action?

The APA California Conference is virtual and nearly here

Schools are starting to open — well, at least laptops are starting to open with students and teachers connected virtually — and it’s the beginning of conference season. In case you haven’t already heard, the APA California Conference will be virtual this year for the first time ever.

I was really looking forward to seeing Riverside and learning about the great things happening there. Instead, I’m looking forward to reconnecting virtually with my planning colleagues, learning about best practices around the state, and conversing about major issues, including housing, transportation, racism and bias in planning, and new ways of planning for the future — all without having to book a hotel, arrange for travel, or even leave the kitchen.

Find out more about the conference and register here. I hope to “see” you there!

Return to the September issue here.