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Thread: Advice about joining the American Planning Association (was: APA?)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Advice about joining the American Planning Association (was: APA?)

    I would like some feedback about the APA.

    Some of my professors have always advocated and encouraged myself and other students to sign up and join the APA.

    I have read some comments or signatures of other members throughout the summer practically implying that the APA is not all it is cracked up to be.

    So... what should I know about the APA?

    opinions or facts.
    Moderator note:
    I changed the thread title. Please provide descriptive thread titles outside the Friday Afternoon Club. No teaser or vague titles in the professional forums, such as this forum.

    Thanks,
    mendelman
    Last edited by mendelman; 02 Aug 2007 at 7:06 AM.
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    oh gees, I'm outta here, this thread will either be hopping or the peepers will all that will be heard...

    for me, I think professional organizations are a good thing, they aren't going to provide you with everything you could ever want, but they are generally a good thing - to join as a student? I didn't do that - you can read Planning Magazine in the library and they usually get all of their other publications so it's not completely necessary -

  3. #3
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Jaded, Cynic Warning.

    If you're not:
    -A Designer
    -Living in Portland (and to a lesser extent, Chicago)
    -Or on the cutting edge of legislation

    Don't bother. You will be unnoticed and find little value.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It all depends on what your goals are. Some employers like the idea of you being AICP, others could care less. There is quite a bit of information given in Planning Magazine (fee with your membership) and the National Conferences are terrific.

    I can’t speak for the Texas Chapter, but here in Michigan, our state chapter gives out scholarships, but it requires that you’re an APA member. As with everything in life, you get out what you put in. They are not a one stop shop with all the answers, but they do have some good points.

    If you’re still a student, I would recommend joining since the fee is next to nothing. If you get active in meetings and conferences, it can also be a terrific networking opportunity. I personally would say go for it, but I don’t know what you want or expect from it.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Well, seeing as how they are pretty much the primary and most recognized certifying organization (AICP), I would say the membership has value... at least until somebody else steps up and provides them some real direct competition.

    Professional organizations are generally a good thing, especially for people early in their career. My affiliation with APA provided me the opportunity to meet my current boss, which eventually resulted in me taking my current position working for her. In addition, they provide a good networking opportunity. Sure, for the first few years you can find answers in textbooks. But after 3-4 years you will likely be in a more significant position that requires you to show innovation and more creativity--the kind of thing where it helps to have trusted peers to go to for ideas.

    A search for APA on this site will reveal several people's opinions, including my own from my more intimate experience with APA. Compared to other professional organizations, I don't think we get good value or as broad of a perspective on planning as we should. The criticism of APA failing to leave the ivory tower is valid, from my experience. Its as though they are oblivious to the day-to-day lives of most planners. As Zman said, a discussion of urban growth boundaries in Portland really has no relevence to me in Texas. Also, I rarely see criticism of popular planning concepts in the magazines.

    However, a student membership is cheap enough that I would suggest joining.

    Though I am not a member, several people have said they got better value from Urban Land Institute than APA. The real kicker is the AICP though.
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 01 Aug 2007 at 5:11 PM.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I have bashed the APA many times in this forum and I will continue to do so for many reasons, including the reason ZMAN gave (they're completely out of touch with mainstream planning and glorify urbanism to the extreme).

    However, I can respect that the APA lobbies on behalf of planning, which is an important role that can be easily overlooked. The organization needs to better walk the line between being a resource for planners and a effective lobbying/political entity IMO.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    I have been an APA member for many years, mostly because it is usually expected at many places, and if you are in a private firm AICP is almost required as you climb the ladder. But if I had a choice I would not bother, the leadership is waaaay out of touch with the membership...the continuing education requirements for AICP for example, implemented without any forethought as to how that might impact those of us in less populated areas (ie most of the western US that is not on the coast).
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    The APA.. isn’t that the American Psychological Association? There isn’t a planning organization for planners is there? What would they do... hold me up for money and feed me bad academic BS? Would they allow anyone to join that could pass a BS academic test? We should create something better that would elevate the field and gain planners some respect.
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Joining is beneficial

    I'm in APA, Texas Chapter, and must say it is much more active than the chapter I was in as a student. I would highly recommend it. On top of the numerous opportunities for networking, Texas APA and their regional sub-chapters offer many workshops and training sessions that provide skills and knowledge about everyday working environments and situations that you often don't get in an academic setting.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Thanks!

    For all who have replied or glanced through this thread, thank you!

    Last edited by MM1648; 02 Aug 2007 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Thanks mendelman! I remembered that once I posted it, but could not edit the title.Perhaps that could be changed for users:]
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  11. #11
    Cyburbian plnrgrl's avatar
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    I just joined ULI and find their monthly publication Urban Land much more practical, educational, and substantive than Planning, the APA publication. I haven't found Planning to be helpful in my daily practice, which I found has been my only 'benefit' of APA membership. I wouldn't be a member of APA if it weren't for AICP - it's holding me hostage.

    If your chapter lets you join without national membership, I would look into that. I get no benefit from the national level, but the state organization is outstanding.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I'm in APA, Texas Chapter, and must say it is much more active than the chapter I was in as a student. I would highly recommend it. On top of the numerous opportunities for networking, Texas APA and their regional sub-chapters offer many workshops and training sessions that provide skills and knowledge about everyday working environments and situations that you often don't get in an academic setting.
    Wow, you are obviously in a different part of TX than I am!

    The TX state chapter seems to exist to put on the annual TxAPA conference. Otherwise, I see no benefit to them. Granted, the state conference is usually pretty good (I have to pay out of my own pocket, so I don't go every year).
    My local chapter doesn't seem to do much at all. They have a website. It has ZIPPO info that is useful, unless I want links to other organizations. No conferences, no workshops (except the random seminar on how to study for the AICP exam), and no help at all with figuring out the new education requirements.
    Basically I'm in APA because I am AICP. Otherwise, I would be outta there!
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ouch....

    Some negative energy in this thread......

    I joined APA my first semester in grad school because.....well.....it was there and relatively cheap. The primary benefit over the last 10 years of membership has been AICP and the various seminars and legislative stuff. The legislative stuff REALLY helps out when in a manager/directors position.

    While I have enjoyed ULI events and membership for one year....it is REALLY REALLY expensive, so it kind of makes me laugh when I see people complain about APA costs. ULI is also only good in truely URBAN areas, they have zero influence or impact on rural or exurban areas, hence the U in ULI. I think people forget this for some reason.

    Also, I would suggest that members should contact their area representatives more often for advice or technical questions. This would keep them honest and accountable to the membership.

    Having said all that, when I worked in the private sector.....I didn't enjoy writing the check to APA/AICP and that's when I got the least from both organizations.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  14. #14
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    ...Basically I'm in APA because I am AICP. Otherwise, I would be outta there!
    If my employer stops paying for my memberships, I'll be right behind you.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Since your a studnet I would encourage it. the fees are dirt cheap, but when you get into the work force, if your employer doesnt pay ofr/require it, i wouldnt bother.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    Wow, you are obviously in a different part of TX than I am!
    Central Texas Division. It kicks ace. I've been working here for a little over two months, and there's already been a lunch seminar on greenspace development, an historic overlay district workshop, and a formal banquet at a swanky hotel in downtown Austin.

  17. #17
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Central Texas Division. It kicks ace. I've been working here for a little over two months, and there's already been a lunch seminar on greenspace development, an historic overlay district workshop, and a formal banquet at a swanky hotel in downtown Austin.
    CenTex is certainly the exception rather than the rule. The statewide chapter, however, leaves a fair amount to be desired.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  18. #18
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    I'm a member of APA for the AICP, as has been written. It was of virtually no use in NY, but was almost required when I went looking for a Director's position, and was required in Delaware.

    Until some other acceptable acknowledgement of professionalism comes along, I am going to have to keep paying and finding ways to do cheap CM.
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    If you're a student, just join. It's $20 (or close) and you get discounts to conferences and stuff as well as free Planning magazines. You can network at those conferences (an opportunity most don't take advantage of). My student membership discount is expiring at the end of this year and my employer will be picking up the tab. If they weren't, I would seriously consider dropping the membership. It's like a gym membership. If you don't use it, it's not worth it. If you're involved and go to things, it is.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    $40 student membership now, plus chapter dues.

    I just renewed, hey I'm going to school full time, I'm getting the student membership!

    Nothing like taking the AICP on a student membership

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    APA like all professional organizations has its benefits and its BS. I do not think it is a bad thing that people from different part of the county share their experiences, their innovations, and their issues. It allows us all to learn from each others sucesses and mistakes. I do agree that ULI is also a fantastic organization. It is more geared towards developers so it has practical research about the actual construction and implementation of projects where the APA is more theoretical in approach.
    Satellite City Enabler

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    At one time I was interested in joining the APA, but no longer. Since they make it pretty difficult for planners working with the enemy (multi-disc. firms doing land development) I didn't have the required experience, and I now have no interest due to the steep CE requirements.

    Too bad the ULI isn't working on a credential. (Hint, hint...)

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