APA Indiana Blog
A primary goal of APA Indiana is to facilitate the exchange of great information among our membership. We encourage you to browse and participate in our blog, Scanning Planning.
Our blog objectives are to educate and grow our membership, educate the public about the planning profession, and build a stronger APA Indiana community.
Introduction to Your TPD Liaison
Hello, my name is Jim Olson. I’m the Indiana Chapter Liaison Coordinator for the APA Transportation Planning Division (TPD). This volunteer position didn‘t have instructions, so I feel free to do it my way. (At least until asked otherwise. :)
I’m now retired from full-time employment, which allows me to pursue planning interests I developed during my career. My background is in engineering, beginning with a Civil Engineering degree, two decades in the heavy/highway construction industry, and 15 years as an appointed County Highway Engineer. Those Highway Engineer years led to my involvement, education, and interest in planning.
I recently attended my first APA Indiana Chapter conference and was impressed by the attendees' enthusiasm and the sessions' quality. It was my first try at getting a taste of what planners face when dealing with transportation. Now I plan to strike up other face-to-face or electronic conversations on transportation planning issues/problems/methods/etc.
As a senior citizen, I’ve now had much time to ponder transportation matters (and others as well.) As a retiree, I see my role as a facilitator for TPD’s mission of exchanging knowledge and promoting mobility with you doing the work “in the trenches.”
Below is Transportation Planning Division info copied from the APA website:
Transportation Planning Division (TPD)
TPD moves APA! With a robust membership base consisting of transportation planners across the US and the world, the American Planning Association
Transportation Planning Division facilitates the exchange of knowledge to efficiently move people and goods, shape urban form, enhance economic vitality
and improve quality of life. The APA TPD collaborates with other APA Divisions and other professional groups to advocate for the transportation planning
profession and promote mobility in the communities where we live and work.
(Italics & bold font by Jim Olson for emphasis.)
Below is a paragraph on what planners do that resonates with me. Note that it’s not how to plan; instead, it’s what is done. I copied it from an APA Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Memo.
Community Planning Comes Down To Change Management
“... Though not all may realize it, community planning comes down to change management. Planners can effectively manage change because the core of
their skill set is based on empathy. They seek to understand the experiences of others and recognize solutions and opportunities. What will do the most good,
serve the greatest good, and make the biggest impact? …”
(Title line, italics & bold font by Jim Olson for emphasis.)
I look forward to hearing from you about transportation planning interests, needs, problems, etc. Also, suggestions for me on what and how to proceed will be appreciated!
In closing, I’m interested in your thoughts on this supposition: “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved" (a quote widely attributed to Charles Kettering, the head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947.)
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Goals for APA Indiana
I am proud to share here APA Indiana’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan 2022-2024.
Thanks to many dedicated committee members, this document will serve as a roadmap toward better representation and more inclusion over the next several years.
We have taken the first significant step toward executing this plan by launching our first ever DEI Membership Survey. I encourage members and planners across the state to take this survey and submit their feedback now through October 31, 2022.
In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about the larger effort to better understand and address the challenges of systemic inequity in the field of planning by reading the following strategic plan.
In 2019, the American Planning Association published the Planning for Equity Policy Guide—reaffirming the commitment to promote equity and remove barriers in policies and regulations that have perpetuated inequity across the country. Disparities in income, health, mobility, and opportunity exist in cities throughout the United States. The policy guide highlights the role the planning profession has played in discriminatory practices against entire groups of people—including women, persons with disabilities, communities of color, and LGBTQ communities. Racial zoning ordinances and racially restrictive covenants were described as some of the most egregious practices, which were exacerbated by federal actions like redlining. Although those practices have been deemed unconstitutional, their detrimental legacies still impact communities today. Additionally, many of today’s land use and zoning practices continue to exclude groups of people.
The policy guide outlines equity-focused approaches planners can use to address several issues—including gentrification, environmental justice, and community engagement and empowerment. It also provides guidance on topics such as education, housing, climate change, heritage preservation, mobility, and many others. However, the guide is not intended to address every aspect of planning practice. APA encourages planners to use the policy guide as a source of inspiration for further steps toward creating more equitable communities.
The APA-IN Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan outlines actions the chapter will take to create a society that ensures safety, health and prosperity for all its inhabitants.
There are multitudes of resources that provide general definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The American Planning Association’s Planning for Equity Guide defines equity as “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.” At the most basic level, when equity is the goal, diversity and inclusion are essential tools to reach it. In planning practice, equity must be a persistent lens informing every level of decision-making.
Perhaps more helpful than general definitions is what results from our incorporating these concepts into our day-to-day practice. For example, in the course of designing the public process for a planning effort, diversity, inclusion, and equity could be defined this way:
- Diversity: Participation from a variety of people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds.
- Inclusion: Ensuring that groups habitually left out of public processes are able to participate.
- Equity: Making participation from underrepresented groups possible by providing accommodations specific to their needs, like choosing times and locations that are most convenient and comfortable for the target groups, providing on-site childcare, ensuring materials and presentations are in the appropriate languages, and offering a variety of ways to participate. After input is gathered and analysis begins, make certain that input gathered is weighted in a fair and just way.
Goals and Strategies
The following goals and strategies outline the chapter’s focused priorities to cultivate culturally competent planners, increase diversity in the profession, and advocate for policies that support equity in all aspects of planning.
Goal: Cultivate culturally competent planners who understand embedded inequities which impact the lives of so many people in our state.
Strategy 1: Coordinate sessions at the chapter professional development conferences to educate planners about issues impacting historically disadvantaged groups and make DEI a more prominent topic in planning discourse.
Strategy 2: Advocate for equity to be an essential part of planning education and contribute to the continued development of local planning curricula.
Strategy 3: Host events that provide opportunities to facilitate communication and information sharing between planners.
Strategy 4: Provide practical resources and tools to help planners effectively advance equity.
Goal: Increase diversity in the planning profession, including APA-IN membership and leadership, to reflect the communities we serve.
Strategy 1: Conduct a DEI study of APA-IN membership and provide recommendations to actively address barriers to recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the profession.
Strategy 2: Work with local universities to identify and address barriers to the attainment and retention of students from underrepresented groups in planning programs.
Strategy 3: Collaborate with schools and youth-serving organizations to engage youth in planning.
Strategy 4: Establish a mentorship program to accelerate the development of planning students and professionals from underrepresented groups.
Goal: Advocate for policies that support equity in all aspects of planning at local, state, and federal levels.
Strategy 1: Monitor state policy trends that impact equitable planning and provide recommendations for the chapter’s policy platform.
Strategy 2: Outreach to state legislators and local decision-makers about policies impacting equitable planning.
Strategy 3: Engage in local policy initiatives without conflicting with AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
To get involved, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Britt Redd, APA Indiana DEI Committee Chair
Surveying Renewable Energy in Indiana
Indiana communities are facing complex land-use planning decisions, specifically in regard to renewable energy. To assist communities, Purdue Extension, through support from Hoosiers for Renewables and Indiana Farm Bureau, released a comprehensive study on land-use regulations for wind and solar renewable energy along with county snapshots.
“Hoosiers for Renewables is pleased with the effort made by Purdue on this important topic, and we look forward to additional studies that will help decision-makers and the general public develop a better understanding of the opportunities that exist with renewable energy in Indiana,” said Steve Eberly, executive director of Hoosiers for Renewables.
In 2021, Purdue Extension’s Land Use Team conducted a comprehensive overview study of land-use regulations for wind and solar energy. The team identified a statewide need for research-based information focused on the intersection of renewable energy, land-use decision-making and ordinance development.
“We hear from our members consistently that they need resources they can look to for ideas as they consider wind and solar projects or ordinances in their communities. We believe this can serve that educational purpose while maintaining local decision-making,” said Jeff Cummins, Indiana Farm Bureau associate director of policy engagement.
The study examined commercial solar and wind development and zoning ordinances for unincorporated areas. Of the 82 counties with planning and zoning, 56% had county zoning ordinances with standards specific to commercial solar energy systems and 62% with standards for commercial wind energy conversion systems. Eight counties do not permit commercial wind in any zoning districts. Ordinances were found to vary in the tools used to regulate renewable energy and define commercial solar and wind as uses.
“The complexity of communities across the state, plus increased interest in renewable energy due to utility plans are causing various community responses. Through this report, Purdue Extension is proud to provide research-based information that can help communities navigate renewable energy and future development efforts,” said Tamara Ogle, community development regional educator for Purdue Extension, who is a member of the Land Use Team.
The complete report and individual county snapshots are found online. The Purdue Extension Land Use Team provides research-based resources and educational programs for Extension professionals, government officials, citizen planners and residents on land use issues affecting their communities.
Submitted by Steve Eberly, Hoosiers for Renewables
Reimagining Muncie Mall
It was a chilly Wednesday morning as I drove to the Muncie Mall, accompanied by two international student planners, Temuulen and
Mauriz. Today marked the beginning of the Urban Planning Department’s long tradition of a field trip week, where the entire department would travel together to experience the built environment of different place. Then, at the end of the week, students would make charrettes based on what they observed and researched throughout the trip. Although this field trip week would only three days due to COVID-19 complications, I was ready for a break from my regularly scheduled classes and excited to focus solely on one project: reimagining the Muncie Mall through the charrette process.
On day one, the department split into three focus groups which would analyze and reimagine the mall in a certain general direction: technology and innovation, youth development, and senior/multigenerational living. I was on the technology and innovation team, where I oversaw researching possible transportation-related scenarios, such as transit-oriented redevelopment with a focus on implementation of modern technology like virtual reality and creating a high-speed rail corridor from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne using nearby tracks. A key feature of the charrette process is quickness and deliberation, which meant we only had a few hours to research and identify key aspects that we thought should be considered in our designs.
At the end of the day, each team presented their findings to the entire department. I was amazed at how diverse the findings were from each team! There were ideas ranging from partnering with Ball State’s Health Department to help provide care in a mall-based senior care facility to integrating virtual reality with customers’ shopping experiences! All these ideas made me excited to get started with the next step of the charrette process: conceptualizing the Muncie Mall with these ideas.
On day two, it was finally time to whip out the trace paper and coloring pencils! We started off the day by dividing each team into two in order to focus on and implement different aspects of what we had learned the previous day. For the tech and innovation team, that meant one group was focused on a scenario with a high-speed rail connection, my group was focused on a scenario without one. As we started, we had to keep in mind that the charrette process put us on an intense deadline to have a final concept in just six hours. However, another key aspect of the charrette process is using existing materials, such as satellite images, to trace over while applying our ideas and improvements along the way. This helped us speed up the work we could get done, as well as the number of ideas we could try implementing onto the mall site!
For my group’s design, we focused on opening the mall to the outdoors and implementing common spaces to encourage interactions and conversations between people of different ages and backgrounds. These common spaces could facilitate innovative thinking as people gain new perspectives from different people. We also focused on having activities that drew in all age groups, such as a technology education center for the youth, an international food court, and flexible office space to be used as testing grounds for AI technology. After an intense day of work, we wrapped up with another round of presentations from each group and headed to home to get prepared for the final day of redesigning the entire mall.
As the third and final day of the Muncie Mall Charrette began, my group reviewed our work from the prior two days to complete our final redesign of the mall. It was crucial to communicate our vision clearly and effectively for the future of the mall. To accomplish that, we created a final comprehensive plan of the site using insights we learned from the charrette process along with gathering graphics and real-life examples. Many groups, including mine, kept a realistic approach to the site in the hopes that some ideas from this charrette process could help inform Muncie’s decisions regarding the future of the mall. In fact, while we worked to complete our visions, community members from around Muncie came to check out our work, including the Mayor!
After another intense day of charrettes and vision-building, we prepared to present our final plan for the future of the Muncie Mall. In the audience, there were notably a few city employees, neighborhood leaders, and some who joined on Zoom! As groups presented, I was once again amazed at the uniqueness of each proposal and vision, as they ranged from a complete transformation to small-scale interventions on the site, and before I knew it, it was my group’s turn to present. I was nervous, but I was also proud and confident of the work we had done over such a short period of time.
As the day came to a close, I felt accomplished and hopeful for the future of the Muncie Mall. Despite only spending three at the mall, I’ll never forget the intensity and impressiveness of the work we, as a department, accomplished. It was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to more weeks like this in the future!
Enzo Lundy, Ball State University student
SCANNING PLANNING – APA Indiana’s new blog
APA Indiana is proud to announce that we’re relaunching our blog, Scanning Planning. Our chapter has had good success in the past with an active blog and member activity, but we moved away from it in recent years. The launch of our new website has provided some momentum to fire it back up, and we’re looking forward to more connection and engagement with our membership and other aligned professionals through this online “conversation”.
Our vision for Scanning Planning is that it will serve as a mechanism to elevate the planning profession, build a stronger community of planners in Indiana, and educate non-planners about the importance of our work. We’re looking for people to share a great story, recognize the outstanding work of a colleague or team, work through the details of how they’ve solved a problem in a novel way, or provide an update on professional standards and guidelines. If you are interested is submitting a blog post, we would love to add your voice to the mix. Reach out to Rachel Gibson at email@example.com for more information.
We are looking forward to a busy and productive year. Thanks for your interest and support.
Tom Vander Woude, APA Indiana Chapter President