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Poll results: I belong to APA because:

Voters
18. You may not vote on this poll
  • The APA is a great organization!

    1 5.56%
  • There not perfect, but they are better than nothing!

    7 38.89%
  • Career ticket punch only!

    7 38.89%
  • To destroy from within!

    1 5.56%
  • Dude, for the weed!

    1 5.56%
  • Chairman Mao told me to join!

    1 5.56%
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Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: A Crisis of Faith - Prepare for an Old Fashioned Rant!

  1. #1
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    A Crisis of Faith - Prepare for an Old Fashioned Rant!

    Disclaimer: I am never going to run the planning departments of LA, SF, Chicago, or even Carson City for that matter. I know that Ė Iím fine with it. I know Iím not an APA prototype. I donít want to grow up to be a planner in a $1000 suit. I donít have visions of rising to APA leadership or being exalted as an example of planner greatness. Iíll admit I joined APA just because I had reached the point in my career where I had to join or otherwise suffer the consequences. APA and I donít see eye to eye on more issues than I care to mention. Thatís OK. I donít have to march in lock step with an organization to be a member of it. But what do I get out of APA membership?

    I was reading an article today about sprawl in a state rural water association magazine. At the end of the article they had a list of contacts Ė the author never mentioned the APA. That is telling. He probably never heard of them. I have never seen a staff member or elected official of APA in the national news giving spin on any subject. I search the media thoroughly when it comes to planning.

    In this monthís APA magazine there is a little presentation by a candidate for the APA presidency where he mentions that he canít find ďAPAĒ in a search engine. Heís right. We have the national visibility of the American Potato Association. As far as getting out and spreading the gospel you are going to find the American Podiatry Association has more media savvy and intensity. (They have also done more for pedestrians overall than our profession in my estimation) So, what am I paying through the teeth for? I sit here and I wonder why I provide support something I donít believe in and something that has been of very little assistance to my career or my ability to perform my job.

    PS I pay my dues, not my employer Ė that may be the root of the problem. If APA felt they had to be responsible to their members perhaps things would change. And I canít stand this sliding dues scale based on your salary Ė thatís Socialism! It is not their business what I make. I donít feel someone making more than me owes me to pay a portion of my share. I can either pay my share or not. I pay my APA dues based on what I make AFTER taxes. Maybe that is cheating Ė I feel perfectly fine with it. I donít know why I belong anymore - Why do you belong to the APA?

    Whew! I feel so much better now. Thanks
    Last edited by el Guapo; 16 Nov 2001 at 5:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
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    South Milwaukee
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    8,935

    Well its better than the Hair Club for Men...

    JOINING THE RANT --

    I am only an APA member because my employer pays for it. Period. Our local chapter / district do some good things, but thats a function of the people in office and not a function of the higher organization. WIthout APA, I dare say I'd still selectively see many of these same peer-professionals for lunch, golf, a beer after work, etc. and network just as much as I do now within the organization.

    Lets face it, our profession is a combination of art, social science, and material science, and the bureaucratic automaton known as APA usually can hit 2 of the 3 on any given issue. This became very clear when our State Smart Growth legislation passed about 2 years ago. After being hacked apart by special interest groups it was (is) a disaster. The chapter website had an open letter to the membership asking not to criticize the law, because the chapter worked so hard to get legislation they didnt want the appearance of mediocrity (amongst other embarrassments). Rather, they wanted happy faces sharing the love...

    Related Rant : I have applied for AICP and am eligible to take the exam, but have declined to take the test for the past several years even though my employer has promised (in writing!) a good raise for passing the exam. Why? The dues they pay will go up, all I get is some money - which isn't why I'm in this to begin with - and 4 capital letters behind my name. Besides, I've been a Planning Director for 8 years of a 12 year career and no one has questioned my ability despite not being AICP. Having a ribbon on my name badge at the national conference is NOT motivation to be AICP.

  3. #3

    Registered
    Sep 2001
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    somewhere cold
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    I belong to APA and I am one of the only people in my office who does. I have no problem with APA, and I wish that the City that I work for recognized AICP. Where I work, I am one of only 10 or so planners out of a 300 person staff. The people who call themselves planners know nothing about planning and therefore, make very (VERY!) bad decisions about everything. For example, building suburban style housing in a historic district, demolishing most of the historic downtown buildings, hiring three full-time crews to demolish what is left of our housing stock day after day after day, generally ignoring urban design, ignoring community input, our stormwater management is a disaster, as is our transportation system, and we have no public transit. I have to drive for 40 minutes to get to a grovery store because we have no retailers. The suburbs have been kicking our ass since the 70s and the future looks worse. Out retail choices consist of liqour stores and coney islands.

    All of that said, I realize that APA can not solve the problems of my City, but I think that a good planning department consisting of good planners who are educated in planning and meet a certian standard (that set by AICP) would make a big diference. I don't think that the lack of knowledge in my Ciy about APA is due to a lack of effort on their part, instead it is a lack of support on the CIty's part. People know what APA is and what they do, but since most "planners" in my city lack an education in planning they will not support it. I am thankful to have the support of an organization that holds planning in the highest regard, even if my employer does not. Although I would love not to have to pay the high dues, It is a small price to pay for the excellent books, conferences, support, and magazines that I get access to in return. I wish that my collegues had access to the same information, perhaps then our city would not be such a mess.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
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    Greensburg, Kansas
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    2,963
    Would I be a member if i paid my own dues? Interesting thought, since the last time I paid was as a student. As AICP, I would continue to pay, because it helps the resume and employment potential.

    The last issue of planning was bemoaning the decline in commission members...that is a local budget issue rather than membership. The vast majority of commission members have their dues paid for them--I did that once when I was running for a state office and desired to pad the votes (I lost anyway). But during budget time, I cannot justify commissioin memberships over a computer.

    Socialistic dues structure? What about the elitist attitude of dividing ourselves among the grunts (APA), the i'm better than yous (AICP), and the effete 400 (FAICP)? That structure is straight from a Prussian tactics book.

  5. #5
          Downtown's avatar
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    Oct 2000
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    I haven't belonged to the APA since grad school. Our Planning Board Chairman is a member, and our department's 4 planners browse his copy of Planning before it gets passed on to him. I'm really very conflicted about getting my AICP, there is no incentive from my employers for having it, and if I ever leave this job, I'm sure I'll be leaving planning all together.

    I agree with Bturk, our local chapter does some cool things, but again, that is because of the leadership, not any support from national. Actually, our local planners group isn't even affiliated with the APA, or Upstate NY Planning Association.

    El Guapo, you forgot to add to your poll "Not a member"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Yep, I missed it.

    KMateja,
    You are correct. I forgot to add a "Not a Member" category. I should have. That is the problem with a rant - you're not thinking straight while you type.

    Only the Great and Powerful OZ (our good administrator Dan) can make such changes. Perhaps he will?

  7. #7
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 1998
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    On the Mother River
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    4,582

    A Crisis of Faith - Prepare for an Old Fashioned Rant!

    Perhaps we should look at the broader question, do we need a professional organization at all? If we agree we do, how can it avoid the pitfalls that APA has fallen into? Is the problem that we are so diverse that we can't agree on anything? It seems, judging from planning history, that we have struggled with this as long as we have exsited as planners.

  8. #8

    Registered
    Nov 2001
    Location
    coffee county, ga
    Posts
    16

    Crisis of Faith - Indeed

    I've been with APA since '85, AICP since '95. Planners get no respect because we don't do our share to earn it. APA/AICP doesn't help much because their staff realizes that many of its members are subserviant to their government's admistration. Also, they realize that in most states, elected officials view planning as a form of communism. Further, it's funny that it's okay to plan (strategic or otherwise) in the private sector, isn't it?

    I earned my AICP designation because I wanted to be well-grounded as a planner. I was an MPA rather than a MUP, so I wanted to show my credibility. I love planning. Ultimately, AICP doesn't make good planners - it just should ensure that we are all created equal (I've ranted on this before). If more employers and schools connected on this, we would weed the hijacking planners out.

    Remember, it wasn't long ago that lawyers and doctors were widely considered as quacks. It's amazing what new and regal furniture at the professional schools along with a little more creative marketing and recruitment would do for our trade. After all, unless your a summa cum laude Harvard MBA, your gonna get out of school and make $25,000 a year as an MNBA telemarketer, anyway. Everyone builds their own career ladder over time - planning is no different.

    Therefore, when real planners are done doin' the "Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get no respect line," we will do better. Our profession is not yet a century old after all. Let's prove our worth by being able to say "I told you so!" Politics is full of wins and losses.

    To return to APA, I've noticed that they have been very ineffective in recent years. I can't bitch about dues because my employer pays them. Half the people probably lie about their income anyway to pay less dues (I'm speculating). APA needs to spend less money on marketing their already overpriced resources and give it back to their state associations so they can do more.

    As a last rant, I was on the state APA Board a few years ago. I tried to get them to use the interest income and surpluses off their "fat" reserves to provide a seed grant program for worthy planning projects needed in less affluent communities. Okay, it only would have amounted to about $5K a year. A lot of places would jump on it. Couldn't jump that battery with a Die-Hard! It's not like our state association supported a staff and overhead. This is what began to disillusion me about APA.

    APA should quit trying to tell everybody how smart we already know we are. Instead, let's try to get a seat at the table instead of behind it. Our APA leadership should be jockeying for positions in the Courthouse or Statehouse, not the out house!

Closed thread

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