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

Making great communities happen

International planning finds a way

By Hing Wong, AICP, and Alex Hinds

Around 20 fully vaccinated and masked local planners celebrated 20 years of Northern Section’s International Program on Saturday, July 31, 2021. The mixer was held at Peña Pachamama Restaurant and Cultural Center in San Francisco’s North Beach. In addition to reconnecting, networking, and enjoying South American-based snacks and beverages, the attendees brainstormed how to adapt international activities during a lingering global pandemic.

Historically, the International Program has consisted of two parts: customized travel learning tours and collaborations. Past tours were to Cuba, China, India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Initially our collaborations focused primarily on activities in São Paulo and Ouro Preto, Brazil. More recently, an online webinar series, COVID Conversations, covered the intersection of planning with socioeconomic and environmental injustice, racism, social unrest, housing, transportation, density, wildfires, and climate change during the pandemic. COVID Conversations was co-sponsored by the Chilean Planners Network and three APA Chapters: California, New York Metro, and Illinois.


A new initiative – Connecting the Americas: Collaborative Planning, North and South – is now being launched. We are sharing ideas on getting more students and emerging and mid-career planners involved with international activities that include less expensive, shorter, in-person trips. We hope to continue online activities with the Chilean Planners Network as we move forward on our Connecting the Americas initiative. We are currently working to establish additional contacts in Canada (Vancouver), Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and to provide future in-person activities at those locations when possible.

For more background information, visit our website, and stay tuned for international planning news and articles in the Northern News as we move forward during these still uncertain times.

The authors are the International Planning Co-directors for APA California Northern. Alex Hinds was a university lecturer and a senior consultant for the center for sustainable communities at Sonoma State University from 2009-2019, community development agency director for Marin County, 1999-2008, planning and building director for San Luis Obispo County, 1990-1999, and Lake County planning director, 1984-1990. Hing Wong, AICP, was President of APA California, 2015 and 2016. He retired in 2017 as Senior Regional Planner, Association of Bay Area Governments, where he had worked for 33 years. 

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